Sub-title: Whoring oneself for Inkigayo tickets
Charity, Lou and I got home from Daegu at around 11:30pm. We were supposed to meet RizzaB at the hostel, but she wasn’t there when we arrived and the Golden Girls weren’t downstairs at the reception area, neither. It’s either they went out or they’re asleep. Anyway, we were dead beat from the trip so we just decided to call it a night. We haven’t heard from our Korea-based Cloud member Chris if our Inkigayo schedule is still a ‘go’. The situation was this: Chris asked his Korean friend to sign us up for February 7 Inkigayo tickets one week prior to our departure to Korea. His friend did manage to get us tickets, but there’s a problem: the tickets he got were for the February 11 recording. We still have another option, that is, go to the studio as early as possible and try to get in by chance. However, I wasn’t able to contact Chris anymore since we arrived in Korea because of our busy schedule so that night, I sent a message to him asking if we’re still pushing through with it. I waited for about 30 minutes and didn’t get a reply. Lou and I just decided that if the situation is iffy, we’ll just skip Inkigayo altogether and tour the city of Seoul instead. We haven’t really gone around Seoul, after all. Before we went to bed, I made a bet with Lou that our Titas would be knocking our door early in the morning the next day.
True enough, the next morning, we woke up with incessant knocks on our door from Tita Remy and Tita Susan. None of us got up; both of us were waiting for the other person to answer the door. I heard both of our titas already panicking as they were wondering why we are not answering the door (answer: we want to stay in bed and catch up on some much needed rest). When I turned to see if Lou is awake, I saw her still lying down facing the ceiling with her eyes open. Then, she went under the covers and continued her slumber. So I guess it means she’s not getting up no matter what, so I decided I should get up before the neighbors complain about the noise. At the time, I didn’t check my watch so I don’t know what time it was; it felt like 6:00am. Just then, both titas barged in through our door. Apparently, they were so worried about us that they decided to ask the front desk for a copy of the keys to our room so that they can check if we’re still alive. It was then that we were informed that it’s already past 9:00am and RizzaB was waiting for me downstairs. Apparently, they went out with her the night before and she came back to see me.
I hurriedly dressed up and brushed my teeth and went downstairs to meet RizzaB. In between chats and a quick breakfast, I decided to check my email. Chris has sent me a message saying Inkigayo is still a go, and we should meet him at the Gayang station of Line 9 between 8-9 am. By that time, it’s already 10:00am. I haven’t combed my hair, let alone showered yet! I quickly borrowed RizzaB’s phone and called Chris up to relay the situation to him. Since Chris was just at nearby Dongdaemun, RizzaB told him to just wait for us at Jongno 3ga station at 11:00am because we’re not ready yet. Long story short, we finally met Chris at around 12:30pm and off we went to SBS studios in Balsan.
For future reference, here are the directions going to SBS Studios in Balsan, where shows like Inkigayo and Star King are being staged:
- Take the subway and get off at Line 9, Gayang station.
- Go out at Exit No. 10.
- Turn to your left and walk straight until you reach SBS. SBS should be at your left side.
That’s easy, right? But that’s the only easy part. Getting inside the studio is an entirely different story.
One question that I was asked in other forums when I told them that I was able to see Inkigayo live inside the studio is how was I able to get tickets. Actually, one of them even questioned me if I really was able to watch Inkigayo that I had to slap him/her with the photo evidence. As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s not easy. First option: you can sign up at the SBS website for Inkigayo tickets, but you have to be a Korean citizen or a foreigner living in Korea legally (with emphasis on legally) because they will require your ID number. Signing up does not assure you of tickets. There’s still a raffle, and if you win you’re only entitled to bring one other person with you. I think this still depends on who is guesting for that particular date, though. Option 2: Become an official member of the fan club of any of the guest artists in that particular episode of the show. Each fan club is given a seat allocation, and the clubs usually raffle the tickets off to the members or they would ask you to show up at the studio with a copy of the artist’s latest album or an evidence of a legal mp3 download of the song the artist is currently promoting. It’s first come, first served, so you still have to show up early as there are limited seats available for each club. If you are a member of a big club like that of SM artists, your chances of getting picked are smaller. I think what the big clubs do is that they negotiate with SBS that some of their members can watch the parts earlier recorded while the others will get to see the live broadcast. That way, more people will get the chance to see their idols. Option 3: If you don’t get picked from the web raffle or are not a member of any fan club, you can still go to the studio early and pray that there will still be available seats after they bring in the raffle winners and the fan clubs. Or you can do Option 4: whore yourself to any fan club and pray that they give you any extra tickets they have. Option 4 works only if you’re a tourist because Koreans and Korea residents know the procedures very well so they can’t invoke the “I’m a foreigner and I don’t know how things go” excuse.
Obviously, since we don’t have tickets and we’re not members of any of the fan clubs present that day, we took Option 4.
The thing was, we arrived at the studio at almost 1:00pm. By that time, a lot of fans are already lined up, not to mention that SNSD is on the guest list and SM Entertainment is notorious for hogging practically all of the seat allocations in music shows (this was a common complaint in 2006 when Rain was promoting his 4th album alongside DBSK. We were advised to not even think of going to music shows because the chances are really slim as majority of the seats already went to Cassiopeia). I should mention that the people lined up were all kids. I mean, if I had a kid at 18 years old some of them could be my children. When we got there, Chris immediately looked for someone from SBS whom he can negotiate with, while the others like Charity, Jean, Joelle and Lou began befriending the fan managers of SM in the hopes of getting tickets. The rest of us waited and observed (basically because I’m really bad at negotiations so it’s best that I give that task to the experts). Chris was able to score one from SNSD, but when he told them that he needs ten more, his ticket was snatched away from him. We were given numbers for SNSD posters, though, which we took because if we don’t get Inki tickets, at least we got a little something from that trip. However, we left the area for a few minutes so I don’t know if they did eventually distribute the posters.
Things I noted while observing:
- I’ve seen it here in the Philippines during the Kpop Con, but it really hit me in Korea: Majority of SNSD’s fans are guys. Our titas did not believe it at first, but when they saw the SNSD line composed of 90% male, they finally believed it.
- Korean fans are really something else. Their tenacity and loyalty is unprecedented. Imagine lining up at the studio that early under that weather, most probably without the knowledge of their parents (which is probably why they cover their faces whenever they see a camera aimed at them) and they don’t even know if they will get a ticket or not. I used to find it weird whenever I see fans crying and becoming overly dramatic whenever their idols hit Number 1 or they see their idols in person, or when they demand that they don’t get enough attention from their idols. Now I understand why. Fanaticism is a career in Korea.
- To further prove how precious an Inkigayo ticket is: there was one fan who accidentally dropped both her ticket and her cellphone at the same time. She quickly picked up her ticket and carefully dusted it off, completely ignoring her cellphone which her friend took care of for her. Jean and I chuckled when we saw this, but then by that time, we have already experienced how difficult it was to obtain that ticket so we completely understood her. Well, not really, but I didn’t find her actions ridiculous at all.
Just then, some press people started interviewing some fans and taking photos of them. They are from Inkigayo Magazine. After interviewing the SNSD fanboys, they turned to us (us being, the part of our group who are members of Cloud Philippines) and asked if we’re fans of which artist. For which we replied, “So Nyuh Shi Dae” which is a total lie and I almost got a nosebleed from it. I admit to being able to sing Gee without guessing the lyrics, though. The reporter was amused that there’s a group of non-Korean, non-young people in there so they asked us if they can take a photo for the magazine. Of course we said yes, in the hopes that maybe they could score us tickets in return. They asked if we have banners with us and of course we don’t, so we borrowed from the fanboys and posed for the pic. Unfortunately, since all 11 of us are in the pic, we don’t have a copy of it. Unless someone can score us Issue No. 2 of Inkigayo Magazine.
After that, we told the lady reporter about our need for tickets and she said in broken English that she will try to do something about it. At least, that’s what we thought she said. But when she came back, she didn’t have tickets but she did have 11 copies of Issue No. 1 of the magazine, which I later found out that it’s only given to raffle winners. Well, at least we won’t go home totally empty-handed. The magazine has, among others, features on C.N.Blue and MBLAQ and while the text is in Korean, the photos are amazing. So it’s definitely a keeper.
Ok, so SNSD fan club whoring = Fail. Next victim: 2AM.
Our emissaries kept on looking for people who could help us, and there’s this sweet young lady from the 2AM fan club named Susanna who graciously lent a hand as she can speak English. She said the chances with 2PM is slim since 2PM is not promoting anything (the Hottests are only given an allocation because two members of 2PM are hosting Inkigayo) while for 2AM, we might need to buy their latest album to be included in their list. Unfortunately, even Susanna’s chances are slim because her rank is already at the 40s. We were willing to purchase the CD, though, since we kinda like 2AM, anyway (thanks to Jo Kwon) and most probably someone will be interested to buy the CD from us here in the Philippines. Chris and I went to the department store just across the road from the SBS studios to check if they have 2AM’s album in stock and also to buy some food. When we came back, some of our friends have gone off to have late lunch, while Charity and Lou remained at the studio to look for more options. The latest update we got is that Susanna is still trying her best, but the chances are really slim since 2AM is requiring mp3 downloads, not a physical copy of the album. So 2AM/2PM fan club whoring = Fail.
Just then, an SBS TV crew has started interviewing some fans and naturally, being the cam-whores that we are, Tita Susan waved at them. So they approached us. They asked us some questions about which K-pop artists do we like – and was completely shocked when Charity mentioned Shinhwa – and then asked us what event is coming up. We already know the purpose of the interview having observed the previous ones, so we said, “Winter Olympics”. The reporter then asked us if we could watch some clips from the portable monitor they’re carrying, so we drafted maknae Lou and the K-pop expert Charity to do it. The clip showed random people on the streets singing and dancing some K-pop songs with altered lyrics for the Olympics promo. It was fun watching the male reporter getting really surprised and amused whenever Cha and Lou would identify the songs that the people on the clip were performing.
After that, he asked us if we know the song that was used on the promo clip. It’s 2ne1’s Fire, and of course we know the song. Duh, even ordinary Pinoys who listen to radio and watch TV know that song. He asked us to sing and dance to Fire but change the intro part to “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-o-lympics… 20-10!” Sheesh, that’s too easy. Anything to get Inkigayo tickets, baby! Which they don’t have (the reporter had already previously said that he can’t help us with that), but we’re camwhores, so if we can’t watch the show, why not be ON the show?
SBS Olympics promo = SUCCESS, but in a different way. I wonder if it got aired?
By that time, a few other fan clubs have arrived. Kim Jong Kook, C.N. Blue, U-KISS… I was willing to join the KJK bandwagon since I do love Kook Jong even before he became part of Family Outing. Meanwhile, Charity, Joelle and Lou have started conversing with the fan coordinators of U-KISS. Their leader, Sae Bum, is really, really nice. I think she knows that we’re not exactly U-KISS fans but she made an effort to help us. She even said that they won’t go in if some of us will not be able to go in. She promised to come back for us at 3:30pm (we think she went inside the studio to catch U-KISS’ recording) and will do everything in her power to help us get tickets. However, because SNSD has practically half of the ticket allocations, she could only give us two. Which turned to be hers and her co-fan coordinator’s tickets. It was really a very thoughtful gesture on their part because as we learned during the actual show, that day was U-KISS’ comeback stage. For Sae Bum and Co. to give up their seats to total strangers at their idols’ comeback stage, that was really something else. I dare anyone from The Cloud to do that. (When pigs fly, maybe.) (Maybe not even.) (Come to think of it, who was the one who helped us get tickets in Hong Kong? It wasn’t The Cloud, it was BiKyo Family. In Macau, it was Madalena. In 2005-2006, it was Helena and Raina and they did it because we’re friends, not because they are Clouds. At the MTV Live WOW recording in Seoul, it was Mr. Kim – yes, Mr. Pink Tie Bodyguard – who ignored the protests of Korean Clouds and let us cut in line amongst them because the Clouds wanted us to go to the end of the line even if we were there several hours ahead of them.) Meanwhile, Susanna was successful in getting a ticket but was still apologetic about not being able to do anything for us. She didn’t have to apologize for it but she still did. That was really sweet of her. You know what, some people are saying Korean fangirls are nasty, but I did not see anything like that there. If anything, Korean fans are probably the most helpful, accommodating fans anyone could find.
So U-KISS fan club whoring = SUCCESS. Because of that, I vow to help promote U-KISS in my country any way I can, especially when they do their promo tour here (there’s a press release about an Asian promo tour and Philippines is one of the stops).
Jean and I were drafted to have the tickets since it was Jean who had really wanted to see Inkigayo and me, for blogging purposes, I guess? The Golden Girls decided to continue their city tour and agreed to just meet us at N-Seoul Tower later that night. At least, that was the plan. Chris and the rest will wait for us at the Dunkin’ Donuts branch at the department store, which was later changed to a nearby coffee shop because Sae Bum told them that they could watch the show from the in-house TV. Sae Bum, her companions and the SM Entertainment fan managers also saw the show from there.
So Jean and I lined up at the U-KISS fan club section. When they finally let us in, the guards took our tickets (good thing we took photos of it while waiting in line!) and once we’re on the other side of the gates, we noticed a few fans without tickets who cut in line by climbing over the fences (see what I said about them being tenacious?). But the fan coordinators were very alert and they knew who were those who cut in line and who were those who are part of their group. Once inside the studio, the guards were very strict. Everyone should fill up the seats in the order that they came in. Jean’s seat was already at the end of the row and she had wanted to trade seats with the person after me so that we could sit together but the guards wouldn’t let her. We can’t even go to the bathroom once we’re inside the studio. Jean absolutely had to go, so I asked the fan coordinator who went with us if she could ask the guards for permission and based on how I understood it, she explained to the guard that Jean is a tourist and needs to be assisted. According to Jean, the guard even accompanied her to the bathroom. Needless to say, taking fancams is completely out of the question. Jean has a guard in front of her and I have one behind me. There’s no way we can risk doing that and having our assess kicked out of there. No way, not after all the sacrifices people have done for us to be there! What I did was I took advantage of the guards being busy getting the audience area organized. I saw other people using their phones to call or text someone, so I took out my phone and pretended I was texting, when what I was really doing was taking a photo of the Inkigayo stage. It’s a good thing I did this, otherwise people would never believe that we really were able to watch Inkigayo live at the studio.
Some of you might’ve already seen the show itself, so no need for me to tell you what happened. I can tell you some behind-the-scenes stuff and impressions on the artists, though.
(1) I gotta say this: Korea is verrrrrrrrrrry very far from the Philippines when it comes to staging music shows like this. The way they seamlessly switched from recorded parts to live parts without the viewer noticing it was so astonishing, my mouth gaping wide open when it first happened that I hardly even noticed that After School is on next. What they do is they pre-record either the last verse or the first part of the performance to enable the artists and production crew to set-up the stage and switch to the next number seamlessly since the show has no commercial gaps in between. But the way they execute it was so impressive. Even the spiels of the hosts flowed smoothly.
(2) I noticed that most Korean celebrities look better in person than in photos or on the screen. Case in point: U-KISS. The night before, Lou and I were watching E! News Korea and there was a feature on U-KISS. I found them a bit bland and plain-looking. But when I saw them in person, they’re like, completely different people. They actually look good. And I’m not just saying this because their fan club gave us tickets. Actually, while they were being interviewed by Taecyon, Wooyoung and Sulli, my attention was grabbed by the next artist waiting onstage: 2AM. All the while, I was swooning but it’s because omigad, Jo Kwon is onstage and he’s the only one in his group wearing a fantabulous Kuya Germs outfit. But eventually, U-KISS grabbed my attention because they look good, after all. Them being nice to the fans is a big plus. While waiting in the wings for their interview, they were waving and blowing kisses at their fans.
(3) It’s easy to spot which among the celebrities are plastic fantastic. In order to protect my hide from butthurt fans, I’d rather not give specifics.
(4) UEE’s face is not as big in person as it is on screen. I don’t know if it’s because her hair is covering half of her face or what…
(5) Kim Jong Kook is not as hefty in person as he is on screen and he’s tall.
(6) ZEA and U-KISS gave fine performances. It’s just too bad that U-KISS did not sing live.
(7) I’ve said it before and I’ll never get tired saying this again and again: THE GUYS IN C.N. BLUE ARE ALL SUUUUUPER-CUTE. And Towel Boy’s sex appeal is explosive, especially when he raps.
(8) Surprisingly, SNSD is so… underwhelming. Rainbow actually performed much better than them. Taeyon was almost non-existent and Yoona is so stiff when she dances. The only one that stood out for me, beauty-wise, is Sunny. My eyes involuntarily followed her wherever she goes. (Me ducks away from butthurt SNSD fans.) I was amused at the fan chants, though, because the voices I heard were mostly manly ones. Try singing “oh-oh-oh-OH!” with a masculine voice. That’s exactly what was heard at the studio.
(9) I nearly cried when Jo Kwon and another 2AM member cried non-stop while doing their encore. But when Taecyon came in, grabbed the mic and sang along with them, my tears went back up because I know that Taecyon doesn’t really sing. Although in fairness to him, he didn’t sing badly and him comforting Jo Kwon – who was still sobbing at that point – was a touching gesture.
When we got out of the studio, we were greeted by Sae Bum to tell us that our friends are waiting for us at the nearby coffee shop. Which, as we later on found out from Charity, et al, was completely voluntary on Sae Bum’s part because they didn’t know that the reason why she left was because she would be looking for us to tell us where our friends went. Really, I never knew that these kind of people still existed in the fangirling world. I really should go look beyond the realms of The Cloud. We told Sae Bum how impressed we are with U-KISS – it’s not lip service, we really were impressed with them – and Sae Bum said the best thing about U-KISS and their management is that they give really good fan service. Er.. ouch? Was she a former Cloud or something? Just then, a teary-eyed Susanna came by (she’s overwhelmed with 2AM’s win) and she once again apologized for not being able to help even if she doesn’t have to. It’s really cool to have met such wonderful people with this adventure.
We then met up with our friends to catch up on the chika and just as we were about to leave for the subway, we heard fans screaming. An artist’s van was caught in traffic and guess what: the artist, who turned out to be Kim Jong Kook, rolled down his window and shook hands with the fans who ran in the middle of the high-way to get closer to him. What the hell, so Korean artists actually do stuff like this?? I thought they’re class A snobs? Just my idol, then? OK. (OK, some of you might play the “he’s a World Star so he can afford to be snobbish” card, but remember: we were in Korea and in Korea, Kim Jong Kook is a top singer. He can afford to be a snob there, too, but he wasn’t. See the diff?)
So that ends the SBS Inkigayo story.
After Inkigayo, Chris brought us to Gangbyon where we hoarded on K-pop CDs and DVDs, then we parted ways in Itaewon after we exchanged money and after I emptied my pockets for a zip-up Storm Trooper hoodie. We were supposed to meet our titas in N-Seoul Tower next, but we were so hungry so we decided to have late dinner at Myeongdong first. But not before we got caught by the shops that greeted us when we came out of the subway station:
Nature Republic, Tony Moly (Hyun Joong is the model), Roem, etc. An ad on the Philippines (the “Land of the Loving” commercial by Smart) was also on rotation at one of the big video billboards there.
We had dinner at a dumpling restaurant where we ate… what else? Dumplings.
After that, we were supposed to go straight to N-Seoul Tower but we ended up emptying our wallets once more at the DVD shops and this shop that sells idol merchandise where we hoarded pig rabbits and other stuff. Surprisingly, not that many items on Rain. We only got some notepads and postcards. We got so engrossed with shopping that when we did a time-check, it’s already 11:30pm and the last bus going down from N-Seoul Tower is at 12:00mn. We decided to just do the Tower thing after we go back from Yongpyeong.
(Additional photos courtesy of Chris Ventura. More pics at my Facebook photo album.)
Next: Sweating it out in Yongpyeong