When I first moved to Korea, I went to plenty of concerts. The first one I saw in Korea was actually with my husband. We went to see Beast, one of my favorite k-pop groups. He was really bored, though, so I knew if I wanted to see them again, I’d probably have to go without him. And I realized it’s been such a long time since I’ve listened to them.
However, Beast left CUBE (their record label) and changed their name to Highlight and had some new music. I loved all of it, so I tried to find out if they were having a concert soon, and sure enough, they had a fan meeting scheduled for the weekend before my birthday (which is today!)
I’m not in the fan club and I didn’t know about the event until after the tickets had sold out, but I managed to snag one being resold for a reasonable price. I decided to make a day of it, to get up early and to go to Seoul for a me-day. I knew my husband wanted to rest, since it was a rare Saturday off for him. I hadn’t been to Seoul alone since the first time I visited Korea back in college.
Back then, I didn’t have a phone that worked or had internet, so I got lost a lot and couldn’t speak Korean. Not many people helped me out but I was able to go to a dance studio where Taeyang and a lot of other famous artists practiced. I took a hip-hop class with a famous instructor and I think it was a successful day!
Now, though, I speak Korean and I have a smartphone. It’s much easier to get around in Korea when you have the subway app. First, I found out where the concert was going to be held and then I found things to do along the way from Seoul station.
I decided to go to a museum, so I went to all the major museum websites and found out that the National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관) was having an exclusive French painting exhibit, and it was going to be open when I was there, but I think it closes soon. The museum is only about 15 minutes from Seoul station on the subway, so it was a quick trip there to Ichon station.
The French painting exhibit was about ₩6,000 (about $6) and they offered an audio guide and there was also an app that you could pay for to get more information about the paintings. I just went in without paying for a guide; all of the paintings had information in English, so I didn’t really need it. The exhibit was called “Masterpieces of the French Art of the XVII–XIX Centuries from the Collection of the Hermitage” done in collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
I loved all the artwork. They had oil paintings, sketches, bronze statues, etc. They even had a Monet, which I was surprised to see.
The only thing I was annoyed about was the fact that there was a tour guide, leading a huge group of people around the exhibit. It was already a small space, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience having to move out of the way of 50 people crowded around one painting, led by a woman with a microphone. I did my best to avoid them, going back to things they’d just seen and going ahead of them when I could.
After the exhibit, I headed over to the actual museum, which is three stories and mostly houses Asian art and artifacts. They have things from Korean, Japanese, and even Indian history, and it was fun to walk around all the (mostly empty) rooms. The main part of the museum was free, too, which was nice! I noticed that the gift shop sold notebooks and trinkets with what looked like Japanese art done on scrolls. All of them were of cats! So I wandered around trying to find the cats, but I only saw one painting of a cat in the Korean section, along with a lot of dogs. I guess I’ll have to go back and find the cats one day.
I was starving by the time I left, but I noticed that the outside of the building had a really nice view, and the flowers were in bloom, and I was able to see Seoul N Tower from the back of the building. I took some selfies and made my way to Gangnam for a Shake Shack burger.
After lunch, I shopped around and bought some clothes. I actually went to American Eagle, which I hadn’t been to in forever. In Daejeon, I usually shop in the underground shopping center for cheap stuff, but I wanted to splurge and treat myself to some nice stuff from AE. I also found an awesome used bookstore called Yes24 and they had a decent selection of English books. One caught my eye and I just had to have it. They also sold a lot of stationary, so I bought a really nice, made-in-Korea journal.
It was almost time for the concert, so I got back on the subway and went to Sports Complex station and it was really crowded. I soon realized it was a baseball weekend, but I eventually found the crowd of girls headed to see Highlight. I went straight to the goods booth to buy my light stick, which didn’t have any batteries in it, so I had to run to 7/11 but they were sold out of course.
I got in line to go inside and was behind two Japanese girls, so I asked them if they had any extra batteries and they said no. They were impressed that I knew Japanese, so I told them I lived in Japan for a while. I told them that I was a Johnny’s fangirl and they asked me my favorite group (NEWS) and member (Massu) and thought it was funny (like everyone does) that a foreigner was a Johnny’s fan. We went inside and I said bye to them and found my seat.
I was still upset about not having batteries for my newly-bought light stick, so I plucked up the courage to ask the girl to my right if she was also alone. She said yes, and then I asked her if she had an extra battery. She had two, but I needed three, so I asked the girl on my left, and she had one! They both gave me their batteries and I was able to use my light stick during the concert! I’m so grateful to both of them. The light sticks used bluetooth and during the concert, would change colors to match the stage lighting. It was something I’d seen other groups do, but I’d never experienced it myself.
The fan meeting started off with the members coming on stage to sing a few songs, and then they talked for a while. They sat in chairs and each member was given a report card of sorts, with grades for things like Math, Korean, English, Social Studies, etc. They were also given comments, probably provided by their producers or close staff members?
Yoseob was mad because he was the only one who got an F in anything (math). It was silly but it was sometimes hard for me to know what was going on because the Korean grading system didn’t used A-F, they used random Korean syllables and I never knew which was a good grade or not. As the audience oohed and ahhed, I figured out which ones were good or bad, but I had to go home and ask my husband for the exact order they went it. (For the record: A = 수 B = 우 C = 미 D = 양 F = 가)
Then they played some games onstage, mostly physical based competitions. Whoever won received a prize, chosen by one of the members. They competed to see who could ride their bike from one line to another as slowly as possible without touching the floor. They also had to try to do as many water bottle flips they could in 60 seconds. It was really funny to watch them play all the games, and it was almost like watching a Korean game show.
The members went back and changed and then came out to sing a few more songs. After the encore, the show was over and I had to trudge my way back to the subway station. My legs were killing me after all that walking and going up what seemed like a million stairs. I had a great solo day in Seoul, though, and it really made me excited to get out more this spring/summer now that the weather’s nice again.