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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ~ !