Tag Archives: hologram

SMTown: Getting a 3D print with a k-pop star

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The future is now: my 3D print with Key from SHINee (featuring a photobomb from cardboard Infinite). SCREAMfmLondon

This is absolutely one of the coolest souvenirs imaginable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: k-pop is truly on the next level. The k-pop fan’s experience is unparalleled. With hologram concerts of the biggest stars and 3D-printed statuettes of fans standing with their favorite idols, it does not get any better than this.

SMTown Theatre: 3D Printing

SMTown at COEX Artium’s sixth floor houses the 3D printing theater, where fans can buy tiny, keychain-sized likenesses of SM artists or go all out with a sizable print of themselves posing proudly beside their idol of choice.

The full-size, unique figurine with an SM artist costs 625,000 KRW (that’s about $550 USD). The price is pretty fair — most places that sell 3D prints will charge around $300 for one person. It’s definitely well worth the cost to have such an incredible memento of this moment in your life while you’re still young, cute and really into boybands.

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3D prints of the artists on SMTown at COEX Artium’s sixth floor. SCREAMfmLondon

First, you select your favorite k-pop star and the appropriate pose. I picked Key from SHINee — a controversial choice, apparently, as the staff gave me incredulous looks, repeating, “Key? Are you sure? …Key?” throughout the process.

But I think he was the perfect choice. Of all the SM artists, I feel like Key and I are an excellent match and could totally be friends. Like, we’d really get along well and could probably watch RuPaul’s Drag Race together. Beauty fades, but that kind of spiritual connection is forever.

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Best friends forever. SCREAMfmLondon

I wanted a pose where we were interacting somehow, but I couldn’t imagine us standing in a romantic embrace with his arms around me. Plus, they had to digitally alter him so he was tall enough (“I think you are… bigger than him,” a staff member said, very delicately. “Do you want us to make him taller? Or the same size?”). We finally decided to loop one of my arms through his as he stood casually with one hand in his jeans pocket.

Next, I was led to a green screen studio where I had to hold my pose, arm crooked awkwardly in the air, while they scanned my entire body with a kind of radar and snapped several close-up photos of the details like my face and hair.

As I was scanned, the three-dimensional image materialized on a computer screen at the front of the room. This part actually turned out to be a huge hassle because the print on my dress did not scan well on the first try. I had to change my (meticulously-selected for the occasion!!) outfit to something with bright, solid colors and come back to be scanned a second time.

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Before the big reveal. SCREAMfmLondon

After the scanning, it takes about two weeks for the product to be printed, painted and finished. It was carefully packaged and presented with a weird little Polaroid of Ki-bum and myself outside on the patio that I now have framed on my desk because what else do you do with that?

The finished product is amazing. It’s one of the best things I own. It’s so strange to be able to hold myself in action figure form and inspect it from every angle. It’s surreal, and I love it. I will treasure it for the rest of my life. It will be passed down for generations, until the kids are asking, “Who’s that random cute guy standing with grandma?” It will be my legacy.

Check out my guide to SMTown’s SUM Celebrity Shop and LIVErary Café here.
Check out my guide to SMTown’s Studio and professional k-pop dance class here.

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SMTown: SUM Celebrity Shop and LIVErary Cafe

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K-pop cafe: EXO cupcake and SHINee “Dream Girl” green apple drink in SMTown at COEX Artium’s LIVErary Cafe. SCREAMfmLondon

SMTown at COEX Artium is a sprawling, six-story k-pop hub. Located beside the gigantic COEX Mall in Gangnam (a shopping center so big it houses an entire aquarium and a huge movie theater inside as well), SMTown offers everything a k-pop fan could want: a hologram theater, branded merchandise, vocal lessons, a photo studio, a cafe, etc. And I’ve done (pretty much) all of it.

Here is my rundown of the two most accessible floors of the SMTown complex:

SUM: Celebrity Shop, Artist Goods, Artist Picks, Gifts
SMTown LIVErary: Cafe, Music, Media, Books, Special Goods

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SM Entertainment decorations lining the SMTown walls. SCREAMfmLondon

The building is tall and glittery from a distance, decorated with the names of SM Entertainment’s most popular artists: SHINee, Super Junior, EXO, Girls’ Generation (SNSD), f(x). The first floor’s Welcome Stage features a tall tower of flatscreens playing SM artists’ most recent music videos.

The second floor houses the SUM shop. This deluxe merchandise store features branded merch of all the bands and general Korean souvenirs, as well as “artist picks,” which are extremely expensive designer items worn by some of the band members. Some of the merch is cool, but the coolest stuff (tote bags with song lyrics printed on them, t-shirts, posters and pillows) are sold out or not yet for sale, despite the fact that the shop has been open since January.

Unless you’re looking to buy a pair of $400 sunglasses a member of SNSD was photographed wearing, you can find better k-pop merch in any given subway station. But they do sell a (pricey) replica of the treble clef necklace Chanyeol wears in the iconic classic “EXO Lives Next Door.”

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EXO staring at you from every direction. SCREAMfmLondon

On the building’s fourth floor is the SMTown LIVErary Cafe. This is an awkward way to say that it’s an SM-themed cafe. Some additional merchandise is sold on this floor (mostly CDs and DVDs), but the main attraction is the dessert case. Macarons and cupcakes printed with band logos are available for a (high) price, as are some tasty band-themed drinks.

The different bands all come in different colors and flavors. I ordered an EXO cupcake and a SHINee green apple-ade. The EXO “capcake” (har har) is chocolate cake topped with cream cheese frosting and a tiny EXO snapback. Someone informed me ahead of time that the caps are actually not edible, which was good to know because I definitely would have attempted to eat it. They’re about 8,000 KRW per cupcake, which is quite a lot, but they’re actually pretty tasty, and you get to keep the little hat as a souvenir.

SHINee’s green apple ade was also exceptionally delicious, and comes served in a cool, collectible “#DREAM GIRL” bottle. The drinks are super syrupy sweet and slightly carbonated, which I greatly enjoyed.

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Band logos printed on macarons at the SMTown LIVErary Cafe. SCREAMfmLondon

In the cafe, most of the tables and chairs have been signed by various SM artists. The walls are decorated with albums, plaques and a timeline of SM Entertainment’s biggest milestones. While enjoying your expensive snacks, you can try to grab a table at a listening station, where you can play SM artists’ music. It’s a cool setup, and it’s even moderately cozy, so big SM fans can end up spending a lot of time hanging out.

Check out my guide to SMTown’s Studio and professional k-pop dance class here.
Check out my guide to SMTown’s 3D printing theater here.

Live-ish: G-Dragon ‘AWAKE’ Hologram Concert

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K-live: the k-pop experience. SCREAMfmLondon

The future is now.

Your watch doubles as a cell phone, cars can drive themselves, and I have appeared onstage as part of a hologram concert.

This is no glitchy “Star Wars”-style hologram, either. This is the real deal. Hologram concerts should be everywhere — this cutting-edge telepresence technology is impressive, interactive and super fun.

K-live, located near the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, is a dedicated k-pop hologram concert hall hosting regular hologram performances from artists including Psy, Big Bang, 2NE1 and, for a limited time, a G-Dragon solo show.

Before the main event, you’re able to mill around K-live and enjoy various interactive stations. There’s a “welcome square” where you can get in a car with Big Bang holograms and, later, dance to “Fantastic Baby” with them. There’s a window where you can ring a doorbell and wait for Psy to appear (if there’s any reason you’d like to do that). There’s a garden from which you can get a great view of Seoul and sip very expensive music-themed drinks. There are bronze handprints where you can compare your gigantic monster hands to the stars’ delicate and dainty ones (I’m about 60 times larger than Park Bom, in case you were wondering).

My favorite is the live photo booth where the life-size hologram of your choice will appear onscreen beside you. Not only will they pose for a photo with you, but they will look right at you and talk to you as well. G-Dragon gave me such a tantalizing once-over in the photo booth that I felt a little flushed moving into the concert hall for the show.

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Such small hands. SCREAMfmLondon

Once the doors are opened, the fans are led into the holograms’ air-conditioned lair, where we first have individual headshots taken. Floor-to-ceiling screens show a variety of different flickering images of G-Dragon, which immediately brings life to the room. There is a designated “standing zone” near the front of the stage as well as some bleacher seating in the back. Both options are awkward, as there are only about nine people in attendance, but we all mostly opt to stand up front.

When the show begins, it’s with a brief film on G-Dragon through the ages: footage shows his baby rapping at age eight (adorable!), his trainee days, the debut of Big Bang, the launch of his solo career. But, still, (the narration tells us) he wonders who he really is… And then he remembers… He’s G-Dragon!

The curtain lifts, and the G-Dragon hologram appears onstage particle-by-particle like he’s traveling by Wonka Vision. When he takes a swipe at the air, his hands appear on screens at either side of the audience. It’s spectacular.

Finally, the hologram becomes completely fleshed-out. It no longer looks like virtual reality — it could really be G-Dragon as he breaks into his first song, “Heartbreaker.”

There are dazzling visuals coming from every angle, costume changes and bubble machines as GD’s hologram powers through a medley of “Crayon” and Big Bang’s hit “Fantastic Baby.” The crowd goes wild! Girls are screaming all around me, and it’s hard to believe that none of this is real.

After “Fantastic Baby,” the energy shifts as GD explores his sensitive side. Onscreen, he rifles through a box of mementos from past loves, including (of course) the photo booth pictures of us, his adoring audience. He flips through them, commenting on a few.

“It’s totally over with you!” he announces about one girl, crumpling up her photo and crushing it underfoot. Beside me, she gasps indignantly.

“I wonder if you still turn red when you drink?” he asks wistfully about another.

Then, oh, god, my photo appears onscreen.

“I really miss you,” he tells me. He flips through more photos — my goofy face photoshopped next to him in romantic embraces. The indignant gasping from the crowd intensifies as GD approaches the telephone and begins to dial.

As I’m watching, I’m grabbed from behind by staff members who escort me swiftly up the stairs toward the back of the stage, where a payphone has suddenly become illuminated. It rings, so I answer it.

“Uh, hello?” I literally say out loud, even though I’m well aware I’m talking to a hologram. Instead of an answer, I see my own image materialize onstage as a hologram. Whoa.

As the opening bars of “Who You?” begin playing, GD walks casually back out onstage, heading straight toward me. Our holograms coexist on the same astral plane, and all is right with the world.

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Doesn’t it look like we exist in the same dimension? But he is a hologram and I am a human — it can never be. SCREAMfmLondon

He proceeds to serenade me — it’s very suave. He even gets down on one knee and reaches for me. The other girls in the audience are panicking, but I’m fully engrossed in My Moment. It’s truly magical. GD’s hologram twirls around me, playfully interacting with my hologram. I’m still standing at the phone booth and, in hologram world, light rain begins to fall as the song comes to a close. GD produces an umbrella from thin air and smoothly pops it open over both of us. Then, he tilts it toward the audience, covering our faces as he leans in for the kill.

I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s just so realistic. Feels just like a real kiss! Who needs space travel? This is the most exciting use of technology I’ve ever seen.

A K-live staffer offers me his hand as I stumble back to my original position in the audience, trembling slightly with adrenaline after my adventure through space and time with G-Dragon.

I’m taking some time to recover when the YG “KRUNK” bear appears in the crowd and starts reeling people in to high five and dance with him. After this brief interlude, KRUNK is whisked backstage and then reappears as a hologram onstage. He removes the head of his bear suit to reveal none other than G-Dragon himself! Natch.

The bear suit dissolves as “Crooked” begins. This performance is the most surreal of them all. They take full advantage of the medium to play with the size and position of GD and his backup dancers, as well as his interaction with the scenery. It’s very cool, and I wish I could live in this hologram wonderland.

It’s a little sad rejoining reality after such a strange, futuristic experience. But on my way out, I’m handed two free tickets to another hologram concert for my participation in the show.

So, maybe I will get to live in hologram wonderland after all…

G-Dragon “AWAKE” Hologram Concert
100-196 9th Floor Lotte Fitin, 264 6-ga Eulji-ro Jung-gu
7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday through July 31
Tickets are 33,000 KRW.
For more information, visit www.klive.co.kr.