Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Gangnam Autumn Festival Finale: JYJ K-Pop Concert!

The Gangnam District in Seoul, Korea, is one of the most affluent districts in the peninsula. On weekends, the area around the Gangnam Station is popular area for couples and friends to meet up, chat and shop. This was where I once brought a friend to be welcomed by Psy's silhouette next to the station.

Also in Gangnam, Garuso-gil is a popular hangout place where, if you want to people-watch, you can just spend an afternoon on one of the many cafes along the street and just chat the day away.
                           (JYJ blue wristband ticket)

And this year, as a finale to the Gangnam District's autumn festival, the District (sounds like Hunger Games) threw a K-pop concert! And the artists they featured is not just any boy band or girl band, it's....JYJ!

Weeks before the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Asian Games, fans of JYJ were posting angry messages on the Asian Games' Facebook page to express their disappointment on the news which broke out that week that JYJ was no longer performing. But a K-pop war was averted when JYJ finally got out on stage on the night of September 19 and sang the theme song of the Asian Games on stage.

Happy were the JYJ fans that night; their idols finally showed everyone why they were appointed ambassadors for the Games. 

But on the night of October 5, not at the Asian Games in Incheon, but in the Gangnam District in Seoul, thousands more of the JYJ fans were not just happy. They were ecstatic, excited, wild and loud!
                 (The crowd couldn't get enough of Junsu)

Two days before JYJ's k-pop concert, the bloggers sitting in the audience to watch the My Dear Love, Chunhyang ballet performance were given tickets to JYJ's concert. I got one, but I really wasn't intending to stand right in the middle of a huge crowd of K-pop fans screaming and shouting every time any of these artists representing a J-Y-J initial started to sing, dance or pretend to take his shirt off. Although I appreciate the free ticket from the Gangnam District, I'd rather stay back, observe and take photographs of the whole experience. This wasn't my first k-pop concert after all. I've been turned deaf by the screaming several times before. Ha-ha-ha!
I was especially interested to find out if the crowd during Rain's concert in the same area would be bigger or smaller. Before he enlisted for the mandatory military service in 2011, Rain held a concert in Yeongdong Boulevard for his fans. Compared to this JYJ concert, his was smaller in scale and in attendance. Of course, even compared to Psy's concert at Seoul Plaza in the fall of 2012, which practically closed the whole of downtown Seoul, Rain's concert looked like a PTA meeting.

Now, back to the JYJ concert.

JYJ, for non-k-pop fans, stands for Jae-Joong, Yu-Chun and Jun-Su. These three bolted years ago from their previous group, TVXQ, and formed their own group. I guess that was the right thing to do. On their own, they successfully held concerts; they were the only K-pop artists to sing at the last presidential inauguration; they have been appointed honorary ambassadors of the Asian Games; and tonight, they successfully dragged me out of my Yongsan neighborhood and into Gangnam to watch their concert!
                             (Yoochun and Jaejoong)
And they did not disappoint. For every song they sang, their fans sang with them, even providing back-up singing for a few bars of each hit song. And even though the main stage provided a huge LED display screen which enabled the farthest audience to still see what was happening onstage, a ramp, more than 50 meters long, extended the stage outwards, letting JYJ and their dancers perform closer to the farthest fans standing along the Yeongdong Boulevard.

I was only able to catch on TV a few minutes of the opening ceremonies of the Asian Games last month. Luckily, those last minutes included JYJ's performance. That's why, when JYJ sang the last song at the concert, I recognized it. "Emtpy" was the song, and all the fans standing next to me screamed even louder. I remember the fans singing with JYJ the chorus of that song, "Let it go...let it go...let it go", which I think signaled that it was time to, well, go home. 

So, thanks to the Gangnam District Office for the invitation to watch JYJ concert that night. These almost two hours of non-stop k-pop singing, dancing and screaming were indeed a Gangnam-style finale to your autumn festival.

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