As my trip started in Korea and I had the chance to see my favourite K-Pop group there, I start my trip review in Korea as well. First the basics: Flight was on the 20th of Decembre, like always, with FinnAir and, also as always, I was glad when we finally landed at Seoul, Incheon Airport. There my sister, together with a friend, collected us and we were able to get ourselves some crazy tasty Ice Cream there. Mine was also shaped like a rose, to the dismay of my sister, who just got a regular cone. *heh heh* Also we received some lollies for free. Read carefully, not lolis but lollies! Not that I wouldn’t had appreciated the other ones as well – supposedly.
Getting to the hotel with our heavy luggage (I HATE winter clothing) was adventurous everytime when there happened to be no escalators. Arriving at the hotel at least was easy – it was basically right next to the subway exit, but – no one at the reception! So me, who was tired, placed myself in the lobby, meanwhile my sisters plus friend were going out for something to eat. I was to tired for food. Half an hour later they returned, finding the situation at the hotel still unchanged. This meant continuing playing the waiting game. So we all set down and awaited the official check-in time. Then the receptionist appeared from the back room, obviously just awoken from slumber. No matter the situation, I found this funny. So much about 24 hour receptions. We soon got our key, for a room which was much too small, even smaller when the second bed had to be placed on the only free space on the floor, which took away every opportunity for storing our luggage away. Of course there weren’t any cupboards or anything. How are people supposed to travel in the mindset of hoteliers? My sisters then soon went out (JYP), me I checked the wifi in the hotel and went to sleep in the late afternoon. I would have probably slept until the next morning if the hotel hadn’t some other distraction up its sleeve: The floor heating. As my bed was basically just a mattress put on this before mentioned floor, the heat was spreading out everywhere – it felt like lying on a heating pad. Such joy. But should have been good for my kidneys. But it turned out not so bad: When getting up and jumping around to the bathroom – walking was impossible because of the overheated floor – I realized the water wouldn’t get warm. This balanced out the night of sweat. The hotel seems to regard the health of its customers very high, providing such easy means for a Kneippsche Water Therapy. (Can not find an english description, but a part of this German treatment is about transitioning from hot water to cold water and vice versa, with several repetitions.)
Anyway, I felt the result of the flight and the room climate the next day – a flu was approaching. Well, like in my last trips. It’s always good to meet an acquaintance, isn’t it? I was still able to enjoy Seoul with its Christmas decorations and shopping in Myeong Dong is a blast everytime. I may not find something to buy, but I always enjoy crowded spaces (no joke!) and like to observe the people roaming around.
On the third day me and my sisters made ourselves on the way to Busan, as my sisters wanted to attend a concert there on Christmas Eve, by a singer named K.Will, surprisingly not a member of the Hallyu Wave, but a serious Korean musician. The trip there was uneventful, despite riding a train that was over booked so we had to stand the entire 2,5 hours. Busan hadn’t changed since the last time, if you disregard the temperature of course. We took a walk at the beach and in the evening watched ‘The Hobbit’ (Part 3) in a nearby Cinema. The name of the place was Sfonze, which according to my sister was an english transliteration and has to be pronounced ‘Spon-gee’. Who would have guessed? The movie, by the way, was terrible. The whole Hobbit Trilogy is such a disgrace to the franchise. The next day was the 24th, so the day of the concert. Nothing special to report here, except that we seemed to be the only foreigners in the crowd which is a rarity in Korea. But as I said, the performer is none of the Hallyu stars who receive the most attention. I also didn’t know K.Will before but still enjoyed the show. He also had funny intermission videos, even when you didn’t understand what they were saying. The ticket business in Korea is something I have to praise here though. In contrast to Japan, Koreans like to boast to other countries with their nation, culture and whatever. So they take efforts for foreigners to take part in the activities as well. In the example of concerts they have special english language websites and even sometimes a contingent specially reserved for foreigners. The actual purchase of the tickets is also quite easy, as you pay for them at the venue right before the show and they will hand it out to you, just by mentioning your name. Japan, as you know, is much more isolated in that regard. But of course this procedure can’t be expected with idol shows, as there is a big difference between both countries here, which I thematized in this blog a few times already. For example live shows apart from TV appearances in Korea are rare and announced in time (relatively), whereas Japan idol shows are frequent, consisting of many Mini Lives and are sometimes only announced via Twitter on the same day. The adoption of the Korean concept obviously would be impossible to put into practice.
The next day was Christmas Day which meant for us the return to Seoul. Our next show was awaiting us there – the One-Man of T-ARA, my favourite Korean idol group. My favourite Korean band would be Jaurim.
Their show actually happened to be their first One-Man on Korean turf, something that was planned a few years earlier, but had to be postponed because of a scandal around the group back in the days. But we had to arrive in Seoul first and this became ‘exciting’. Then while interchanging the subway line in Busan, my sister forgot her bag which she had put on the overhead compartment. Luckily she remembered the waggon number so we were able to look for the Lost & Found. There she explained the situation and we were told to wait. Fifteen minutes later they approached us, telling my sister they couldn’t find her bag. It turned out though that they looked in the wrong train. So we corrected them and waited – again. This time it was successful. The bag was found, but was at a station, 45 minutes away. To collect it ourselves wasn’t possible as then we would have missed the concert. But my sister was able to provide her Seoul address so that they could sent her bag via postal service. This event took us roughly one hour so we had to take a later train. This didn’t matter as it was still enough time. When being on the train for about half an hour already my sister got a call on her mobile. It was the hotel in Busan we stayed in. Apparently they forgot during check-in to give my sister her passport back so they still had it! Another opportunity now to test the Korean postal service. As if Christmas wasn’t enough work for them already. So much trouble in such short amount of time – my sister was fed up for the rest of the day. Now she just had to hope that she wouldn’t be checked for her visa over the course of the next days. (She wasn’t and both her passport and bag was delivered a week later.)
When we arrived at Seoul, I bought a friend some Korean Ginseng he was asking me for and then we made our way back to the hotel, to put our luggage there. Well, with the exception of one of us. Soon after we went to the venue, which was located at the famous COEX Mall. My sister needed to buy a recharge cable for her iPhone beforehand as hers was in the bag left in Busan, but finding the Apple store turned out difficult, as the escalator downstairs to it was only at located at one spot in the huge mall(others went down to parking lots) and the store itself wasn’t called ‘Apple Store’ in the directory but ‘A-(lot of korean letters following)’. This strained the nerves of my sister even more today. It was a cheerful time in her company now, as you might imagine. At least the venue was easier to locate. A lot of fans where already waiting, a big amount of them being foreigners, mostly from other parts of Asia. The merchandise was very poor, to my dismay. No T-Shirts. Korean marketing at concerts is even worse than the Japanese counterpart. I just got me desktop calendar. A poster and a handkerchief were handed out free for all.
The show itself was great, but all places were seated and standing during the show in front of seats is very uncomfortable. At least we were not far from the stage (though not near enough to call it Shaun-distance, of course). The setlist included all their hits, but could have used a better arrangement as most of their best numbers were already performed at the start. Costume changes happened a lot as well, which in most cases I didn’t mind. The exception being their cover version of Little Apple, dressed in strange jogging wear accompanied by big glasses. Uggh!
In comparison the One-Man of 4Minute in Stockholm was superior, mostly because it was all standing, took place in a small venue (Shaun-distance here) and had events afterwards. But T-ARA‘s music and the look of their members appeal a lot more to me, so seeing the girls for 2 hours on stage was still something I didn’t want to miss. The show also made me realize that in case of T-ARA I am a total DD, never able to decide on a favourite member. The performances itself was different from Japan idols as well as 4Minute, which were very intense and cheerful, with lots of audience interaction. But the effect of the venue size and the seating automatically results in different stage shows. T-ARA‘s dancing was more choreographed and distant, but at the same time had a lot more sex appeal, which Korean groups are famous for. As you know I prefer the more cheerful performance style, but this is something you can not expect from an established Korean group, especially not in their own country. Or could you imagine Momoiro Clover Z doing frequent shows in small clubs again? Anyway, here is a fancam of the show, which, although to focused on the stage center, should give you a good impression (of the sexiness) and also lets you hear the chants of the Korean audience (mostly female). I like the group choreography during the refrain, when they just slowly move their hips, something I saw again when I went to a show by Chu-Z. But that is a story for another time.
The next day, Boxing Day, was already my date of departure – to Tokyo! This as well will become a topic of a future post. And on something different: What do you think happens when I post about idol haircuts and criticize a certain style? The idol will run immediately to the next barber and get exactly the haircut I disliked in the post. Need prove? Here is the new Naomi: