Tag Archives: Psy

Live: WAPOP [Collaboration of K-Drama and K-Pop]

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Dance performance team Blue Whale Brothers performs in the WAPOP concert at Children’s Grand Park. SCREAMfmLondon

When a friend offered me free tickets to a “k-drama k-pop concert thing” called WAPOP, I, of course, just had to go see the live combination of these forms of entertainment.

WAPOP is an ongoing event that takes place at 8 p.m. every single Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The name comes from some strange combination of “Wow Pop” and “World & Asia,” and the event is clearly marketed toward tourists specifically from China. The website is offered in Chinese, Korean and Japanese, but a lot of the pre-show content deals with the relationship between South Korea and China, and a lot of the dialogue is in Mandarin.

The performers change from night to night, but the current players frequently include 24K (my favorite rookie group from last year’s Dream Concert!), A.Cian (my favorite rookie group from this year’s Dream Concert!), Bloomy and Minx.

In addition to the k-pop concert, WAPOP also offers live k-drama performances, b-boy dancing, and wild laser light tricks. The whole thing is virtually hosted by actor Lee Byung-hun, who escorts the audience on a train ride through space and time via incredibly deluxe 260-degree panorama video projection.

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The duo Meivley performs a song from the original soundtrack of the popular drama “Descendants of the Sun.” SCREAMfmLondon

When I imagined “live k-drama,” I basically just figured they’d show an episode of “Boys Over Flowers” on the big screen and be done with it. However, the k-drama bits are, in fact, very cool. The big screen is used to show key scenes from popular shows like “My Love From Another Star” and “Descendants of the Sun” while live musicians and dancers perform dramatic scenes on the stage.

When Lee Byung-hun first drops us off in the Joseon Dynasty for some Korean culture, the historical drama is augmented with hip-hop dancing to the tune of a traditional Korean stringed instrument, the gayaguem. The k-drama scenes make great use of the stage and the theater’s technology.

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Minx performs T-ara’s “Roly Poly” onstage at the WAPOP concert. SCREAMfmLondon

In between each k-drama performance, a different rookie idol group takes the stage to perform a few songs — usually two original songs and one cover.

On the night I attended, girl group Bloomy performed first, introducing original songs “흥칫뿡” and “Because of You,” which are both surprisingly excellent. The group is really new (they debuted in February), but the performance was legit. The second girl group, Minx, was less impressive, but they performed a fun cover of T-ara’s hit song “Roly Poly,” so that was something.

A.Cian, the only boy group that night, closed the event. I remember loving their catchy single “Touch” the last time I saw them live, and they delivered again at the WAPOP concert. Their dancing is over-the-top cute, their outfits are over-the-top stupid, and they are overflowing with fanservice. The perfect combination. They, naturally, closed the show with a cover of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” because that’s what you do when you’re targeting an audience of tourists.

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A.Cian performs their single “Touch” at the WAPOP concert. SCREAMfmLondon

I actually really enjoyed the whole show, and I ended up downloading both A.Cian’s and Bloomy’s albums when I got home. Loved it and would totally do it again.

That being said, I have no idea who the hell would pay $70 for this experience. There are a million opportunities to see huge k-pop stars perform for free. So why would anyone pay this price to see some random rookie acts perform two songs alongside a video projection of Lee Byung-hun? If they sell any tickets at all, that blows my mind.

But WAPOP is a cool experience, really. I would pay, like… five bucks to see it again.

WAPOP
238 Neungdong-ro Gwangjin-gu
8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Tickets range from 50,000 to 70,000 KRW
For more information, visit www.wapophall.com.

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Food: Lamb skewers, fried cheese and more

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A new restaurant just opened up on my street specializing in lamb skewers on a cool rotisserie grill. Fun and delicious! SCREAMfmLondon

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I could not resist the strange fried cheese on a stick while wandering the streets of Myeongdong. It was surprisingly appetizing and mozzarella-y. SCREAMfmLondon

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This summer, YG Entertainment launched its first restaurant. Samgeori Butchers in Hongdae has since been visited by YG artists such as Psy, Big Bang, iKON and Winner. The menu features delicious thick-cut pork served with a variety of tasty dipping sauces, pork fried rice, jjigae and more. SCREAMfmLondon

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Check out this atmospheric, candle-lit burger at Burgeroom181 in Songdo. The selection there is a little lacking, but this was the best “cheese halo” I’ve ever had. It was not, however, the best burger I’ve ever had. It’s a good place for a solid, middle-of-the-road burger. SCREAMfmLondon

I performed at the 2015 Summer K-pop Festival

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Infinite closes out the 2015 Summer K-pop Festival with a performance of their recent single, “Bad.” SCREAMfmLondon

I hear the roaring applause of thousands of k-pop fans as I’m nailing every moment of my chicken-inspired choreography. I land my final jumps, and the crowd goes wild. Then, I have to hurry off the stage because world-renowned pop superstar Psy is up next.

That’s (basically) (more or less) how it went down when I performed as a backup dancer for Korean comedian Kim Young-chul’s set at the 2015 Summer K-pop Festival on Aug. 4. The four-hour concert boasted performances from artists such as GOT7, Infinite, T-ara, Crayon Pop and Psy.

And me, of course.

SM Entertainment, sign me up

The adventure began around 7 p.m. the night before the concert, when the dancers were all herded en masse through several crowded subway transfers until we reached our stage at Seoul City Hall.

At the venue, we were quickly taught the moves and positioned onstage, where we ran the dance until 9 p.m. We had no idea what song we were dancing to until the next day, but, boy, were we dancing. We danced and danced, were given disapproving looks, and then we danced some more.

The choreographer seemed quite exasperated every time we failed to perform our dance in perfect synchronization, but I’m pretty sure that the steps were different every time we ran through it. I’m also pretty sure that they were making it up as we went along.

He was terribly intimidating (even when he congratulated us on a job well done at the end of the concert). I felt like I was in an audition for a Very Serious entertainment agency. Which was actually super fun for me. I was having a blast. I could do that all day every day. SM Entertainment, sign me up!

SM Entertainment, don’t call me — I’ll call you

The next day, we arrived bright and early to our dance team holding tent backstage while fans were already staking out spots on the lawn to watch their favorite groups.

“We just saw some k-pop stars!” one of the girls exclaimed excitedly as she ran up to our group. “I think it was Infinite!”

‘No way,’ I thought. ‘I am sitting around in this sweltering tent backstage for six hours because I don’t actually have a life, and what else would I be doing? If I was an actual k-pop star, I’d show up like five minutes before I had to be onstage. And I’d demand a dressing room or something.’

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Super Junior’s Zhou Mi gets ready backstage before emceeing the concert on Aug. 4. SCREAMfmLondon

But no sooner had the thought occurred to me than Infinite themselves popped out of their own black tarp tent and made the glamorous journey toward a shared porta-potty. Along the way, they resignedly waved at the jittery fans who were intently watching said journey to the porta-potty.

Amazing! Not only were they, in fact, sitting around in their backstage tent longer than I was, but they also had a lot more pressure surrounding the general porta-potty experience than I have ever dealt with. Possibly, I do not want to be a k-pop star after all. SM Entertainment, don’t call me — I’ll call you.

Make it happen

Once the seats were beginning to fill, we went onstage for our soundcheck. This was the first time we’d heard the song we’d be dancing to — a remix of Kim Young-chul saying “Cheer up, superpower” on an episode of “Infinity Challenge.” It was also the first time we’d met him, but we were pumped. I was pumped. I was ready to roll, ready to party, ready to dance on the very floor where Nam Woo-hyun would also dance.

I felt even better when we came off the stage from our soundcheck, hurrying down the right side of the staircase because Infinite was making their way up the left for their own soundcheck. ‘Yes, this feels right. This is where I belong. Me and Psy — we’re like peers, really.’

Finally, the time came for our official, broadcast-ready performance. We waited patiently in the wings while MCs Zhou Mi of Super Junior, Lee Hong-bin of VIXX and Park Ji-yeon of T-ara gave an introduction. As they passed us on the stairs, Zhou Mi gave us a thumbs-up and whispered, “Fighting!” I grinned. We’re totally peers.

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Why aren’t there any better-quality videos of my moment?! Yours truly, second from the left. SCREAMfmLondon

I felt so alive with all of those confused eyes on me as I wildly flapped my arms in tune to the song. ‘Yep, this is the life,’ I thought. My face was projected on the screens at both sides of the stage as I danced my heart out. I hope Psy saw it, and I hope he appreciates my passion. My face was broadcast on SBS MTV throughout South Korea as I danced my heart out. I hope everybody saw it, and I hope they appreciate my passion.

It went great. The crowd didn’t know what to do with themselves. It was the greatest thing they’d ever seen, I assume.

The Summer K-pop Concert

Exhilarated from the performance, we eventually took our seats in the audience to watch the rest of the concert clutching towels and posters painted with the phrase “I LOVE K-POP.”

It was awesome. Psy was electrifying, and he got the entire crowd up and dancing to “Gentleman” (such a jam) and other hits that shall not be named. He played an unprecedented four songs, and I loved every moment of it. He’s such an incredible entertainer — I’m absolutely certain that I screamed louder for him than any of the boy bands.

GOT7 was awfully super adorable with “Just Right,” which was tragically the only song they performed at the show. The bubbly you’re-perfect-just-the-way-you-are vibe is the cutest and will never fail to warm my heart. I also love the accompanying dance. Watching professionals like GOT7 command the stage really reminded me what dancing is supposed to look like after spending so much time looking at myself dance (or try to, anyway).

Infinite was wonderful, as always. They performed “Bad” from the recently-released mini-album “Reality,” and then closed the show with a more somber ballad. “Bad” is a really awesome song with a theatrical, Hans Zimmer-style introduction and a dark, sexy overtone. It shows off the strengths of several band members — namely Dongwoo, whose rap verse and featured dance were some of the highlights of the performance.

Altogether, I had a blast at the concert. It was one of the most entertaining strange situations I’ve ever inserted myself into. I sincerely hope I get to do it again. SM Entertainment, I’m back onboard.

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Psy performs at the 2015 Summer K-pop Festival. SCREAMfmLondon

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.