Preparing for a fan sign event

Hey all!

Happy Lunar New Year. 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

I’m here with a few tips for my fellow Kpop fans out there. I’ve been to a few fan sign events now and I thought I’d impart some small bits of advice to y’all.

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Usually these kinds of events happen through CD stores. You’ll have to check the stores website or look on your favorite group’s fan cafe to see when these things happen. In Daejeon there’s only 1 store that handles fan signs and that’s Synnara. I try to check it once or twice a week to see if anything’s up. We’re not a very popular city so we don’t get lots of groups coming through here. Seoul is obviously #1. Other than that it’s Busan, Incheon, and Daegu.

So your first step is getting the CD. Most of these events are held via lottery. For every CD you buy you get a chance to be picked to attend. I’ve seen fans buy several copies (over 10!) just to have a chance. I almost never buy more than 1. If the group is a new (or “nugu”) group than it’s just first come, first served. When I saw History last year that’s how it was, but this year it was a lottery. I think, though, as a foreigner you have a better shot. I’m not saying it’s a for sure thing, but I have a feeling that they may have a set number of non-Koreans that they allow in so that it’s fair (we are outnumbered after all).

Let’s say you got in — congrats! Now what?

1) Check the location

The event may be at the CD store, but it might be elsewhere as well. In Daejeon, Synnara is pretty small. Of all the ones I’ve been to only 2 have been at the actual store. So make sure you’re in the right place. Also make sure whether you have to stop at the store first. When the event is somewhat far from the store then they pass out the seating numbers at the location. However, when it’s been close by, but not at the store, then I had to stop at the store to get my seating number.

2) Proper clothes

Depending on location and time of the year you want to be prepared. Is it gonna rain? Be swelteringly hot? Freezing cold? Of course you’ll want to look nice when you finally get up in front of your idol, but be ready for the weather as well.

3) CD

This should be obvious, but don’t forget the CD! I almost did that one time. >.> They only sign the CD that you bought.

4) Post-It notes

This is optional. I only did this for the first time for History a couple weeks ago. You may choose to write one or all the members a question on a post-it note and tuck it in the booklet. I was drawing blanks so I looked up a few examples online for other groups. It’s usually silly stuff anyway. For example I wrote things like “Who is the funniest member?” and “What do you think about foreign girls? ^^”. I’m not sure this is allowed for every group so take a look around at other fans while you’re lined up and see what they’re doing.

Also it helps to write your name on a Post-It and stick it on the CD. Then you don’t have to waste time spelling out your name for every member. Whether you write it in English or Korean it doesn’t really matter. I’ve never had a problem with people copying English.

5) Gifts/letters

Again, this is optional. I’ve only done this a few times. I wrote letters for 3 groups – U-KISS, FT Island, and History. I only gave a gift one time (Dokyun from History). I’d recommend doing this ahead of time, but I have also done this while waiting in line. My Korean isn’t great, but I can write enough for a basic sort of letter — My name is…. I’m from…. I like you because…. etc etc.

In most cases they aren’t going to look at your gift right away. It sort of depends what it is. They may take a peek and ask about it and say “thank you”. Sometimes fans bring silly gifts like ribbon headbands (for boys) or toys and the group may or may not play around with them right there. If the managers/staff are being nice they’ll let them. In my case, I found FT Island to be the best ‘cuz they kinda just did whatever they wanted haha.

6) Pens/markers

If you plan on writing your notes on the day of then you’ll need these. Even if you’re not sure it’s nice to have them on-hand. You never know when a fellow fan will be in need of something. I’ve borrowed pens and scissors from other fans on a couple occasions.

7) Camera

Not a necessity, but I think we can all agree we want some visual memories of the events. I have a pretty nice camera (SONY NEX-5), but nothing compares to seeing the hardcore fans pull out their DSLRs with crazy big lenses. O.O I’m so jealous… They get really good shots! Don’t despair if you don’t have one of these paparazzi cameras. Those fans are most likely putting them up on fan sites or the fan cafes anyway.

8) Snacks/water

You never know how long these things are gonna last. You’re probably going to be sitting for a minimum 1-2 hours depending on how early you show up. I try to at least have a bottle of water on-hand. Something like a granola bar or cookies isn’t a bad idea either.

Now as for language, well, I can’t say there isn’t a barrier if you don’t speak Korean. I have an awkward time most of the time. It’s part nerves and part Korean ability. But really I’ve found most idols can say things like, “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?” in English. It’s something, right? And I think that they’re pretty glad to see their foreign fan base anyway, so you being there is a bonus for them. So don’t worry too much. I actually found I had the easiest time (besides when there were English speakers) when I had prepared the post-it notes. It gave me a topic that I had sorta thought about so I could make a few vague comments about it.

Also try not to be discouraged if the staff moves you along as a fast pace. Sometimes the groups are really busy and they have to adhere to schedules. It’s kinda sad when you don’t have enough time to talk, but just being there is a pretty lucky thing! Enjoy the time you have even if it’s a bit short.

I hope if you come to Korea that you get to experience one of these events. 🙂

Who is the group you’d most like to see? If you could give a gift to your favorite member, who would you give it to and what would it be? I’m curious!

Laters ~ !

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Gringos Korea: burrito delivery!

There’s plenty of good food to be had in Korea. While I don’t eat Korean food all the time, save for at work, I do enjoy it. But sometimes you get cravings for the food you like back home. “Ah, I could really go for some Mexican food about now,” you think one day. If you’re lucky enough to live in a big city you may find a restaurant that sells such food. The thing is they tend to be a bit pricey. While in the U.S. a burrito might set you back around $6 at Chipotle or Qdoba, here they may run between $12-18 (and they’re smaller too).

But fear not, friends! Gringos Korea has got you covered. I learned about them by word-of-mouth. Two guys, Mike and Mark, working out of Ilsan having been cooking up food for fellow expats for a couple years (at least as long as I’ve been here).

Everything is made for scratch and delicious. They have 6 kinds of burritos – chicken, ancho carnitas (pulled pork), carne asada (steak), tofu, bacon breakfast burrito, and chorizo breakfast burrito. They all range between 5,500 – 7,000 won. They are all, also, quite yummy. I’m a fan of the pork and breakfast burritos.

They also have bean n’ cheese dip, salsa, and chili which go for 5,500 won each. I honestly recommend everything especially the chili. Nothing like a cup of chili when it’s chilly out.

You might be thinking, “Mail order burritos? Whaaaaat?”. I too was somewhat confused, but it’s pretty nifty. They send all orders out Monday and guarantee next-day delivery. Your delectable package will arrive in a styrofoam container like mine below.

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(Aww they even send a few sweets along with it.)

You can freeze your order right away or throw it in the fridge. I personally put it in the fridge because a) they re-heat better and b) they only last a couple days in my house. I can’t resist gobbling them up ASAP.

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Take a gander at the carnitas burrito and bean dip I had today. Very satisfying!

Ordering is simple. You can email them at gringosburritos@gmail.com or hit them up via message on Facebook – ‘Gringosburritos’. Final order day for the week is every Thursday, so try to get them in early. You pay via bank transfer, and them give them your mailing address and phone number. Then all you have to do it wait. That is probably the hardest part. It’s well worth it though.

You also have to order a minimum of 6 items, but that’s pretty easy to do too. If it seems a bit much for you I recommend ordering items and having a dinner party with friends. I did that before and you will definitely have some grateful amigos if you feed them this yummy food.

Check them out at Gringos Korea.

Happy eating!

History fan sign in Daejeon

Hello and Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is doing well and staying warm. I got to go home to the Midwest for vacation, so I too got to enjoy the wonderful -50 F weather a few weeks ago. Fun, right? 😀

Anyway I’m back again with another fan sign post. I got to see History for the 2nd time. This is the 1st time that I’ve been to the same group’s fan sign more than once. I really do like this group. I’d love to see them snag a #1 someday.

The event was at the Daejeon Jung-gu Cultural Center. It was a nice theater space was comfy seating. I got there about 1 hour early, hoping to be a bit closer to the front. Turns out I should’ve been there earlier. I was #75 out of 100 fans. The other Storias knew better I guess! I passed the time getting organized and writing my Post-It note questions for each member. I’d never done that before and I was blanking on questions, but I managed to come up with stuff. It took my awhile though because I wanted the Korean is be as grammatically correct as I could. ㅠㅠ Not always easy for me…

We didn’t have to wait too long because they got there a little earlier than the start time. I really love the blue suits the had on. Last time I saw them the outfit were mint green. I much prefer these. They got the fan sign underway and we all waited our turn. Sometimes I wish I had one of those cameras with the massive lenses like other fans do. I could see the really nice close-ups they were capturing. Still, I managed to get some nice photos and video with my Sony NEX.

I was really surprised at the pacing of the event. Normally you don’t get much time to talk as the staff/managers are pushing you along. This usually has to do with a group having to keep to their schedules. In our case, though, they were being really generous with time. Most fans moved on their own at a good pace and the staff weren’t too pushy with their “move ons”.

When it was my turn I grabbed my CD and gift for Do Kyun (another 1st for me – just a note, hand cream, and chocolate). First was Yijeong. The greeting were the usual “Hello. Where are you from?” in Korean. Then we went over my post-it. It said “Yijeong is ~” A. Handsome B. Sexy C. Cute . I wanted him to pick, but he motioned for me to choose first. I circled ‘A. Handsome’. He kinda raised his eyebrows and then circled the other 2 as well. :3

Next was Jaeho. He made every attempt to speak as much English as he could. I was kind of answering 1/2 English 1/2 Korean so we were sort of awkward together haha. His post-it said “Jaeho ~ which member in History is the funniest?”. He circled Si Hyung. I wonder if he’s extra goofy when out of the public eye?

Leader Kyung Il was next. He is just too good-looking in person. I mean, damn. It’s kinda not fair! I didn’t like the bleached hair at first, but it looks nice up close. [My conversations are pretty much all the same for every person/Kpop group by the way – What’s your name? Where are you from? Are you student? etc.] Kyung Il’s note said ” Kyung Il ~ can I be your English tutor? :P” A. Yes~ 선생님! B. Nope. Of course he circles “Yes” cuz it’d be kinda cruel to say “no”. 😛

Do Kyun was after. He’s kinda my bias for the group so that’s why I only had a gift for him. He said I spoke Korean well which I denied, but it’s still nice to hear. His note read “Do Kyun ~ how about foreign girls? Do you like me? ^^” A. Not really… B. They [you’re] okay C. Yes! They’re my ideal type D. [You/They’re] Pretty. He circled C & D haha. Again it’s just fan service, but still nice to hear.

Last was Si Hyung. He asked, in English, “Hello. Where are you from?”, but Do Kyun interrupted “Hey she’s really good at Korean”. And I’m all “Nooooo *^^*”. Si Hyung tried to speak English too. He was a bit unsure (like last time), but it’s very cute. His post-it said “Si Hyung ~ if I teach you English will you teach me Korean?” and he wrote “Of course!”.

I was giddy leaving the stage. There’s usually some point during a  fan sign when I get super awkward because of speaking Korean, but I felt pretty confident when I was talking to all of them. I think it helps having seen the group before and having those post-it questions ready. It gave me a topic kinda lined up in case the conversation dropped off. Plus it doesn’t hurt when the group is so nice.

I wish I lived in Seoul since fan signs here are so few and far between. There are fans who go to each of the cities to try and get into each event. I actually talked to a Storia from Seoul who had been to all the the cities for the signing (Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, and Seoul). That takes some really dedication! Traveling, buying CDs, and all that. It’s a big investment or your time and money. But I’m content to see who I can here and enjoy it when I’m able. It’s all fun. 🙂

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ohhappydae’s photostream on Flickr.

*Please do not re-post without proper credit*