K-pop in the Philippines has come a long way since Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” and Wonder Girls’ “Nobody” took the country by storm in the early 2010s.
Since then, more Filipinos have found themselves falling into the rabbit hole that is K-pop – with a 2021 Twitter report even naming the Philippines as the third country with the highest number of K-pop fans in the world (beating South Korea itself)!
It’s no longer surprising, then, that most of the K-pop shows staged in the Philippines since restrictions were eased in May have been sold out. Understandably, Filipino fans are now more than eager to witness live performances of their favorite artists, especially after two long, silent years on the live music front.
In fact, as soon as South Korea announced in June that they had opened their international borders to Filipino citizens – many took the chance to go to Seoul to attend these live concerts.
“It’s my first time going to South Korea. Honestly, I didn’t have plans of going to South Korea but [K-pop boy group] SEVENTEEN made me do it,” Niqui, a 32-year-old businesswoman, told Rappler.
Finally going to a concert after 2 years!
Denise, a 27-year-old engineer, flew to Seoul to attend Super Junior’s Super Show 9 concert on July 15. “It’s actually my first-ever K-pop concert, and it might have been a very impulsive decision to have my first concert in a foreign country,” she said.
But even though she knew that there was a possibility that the Philippines might be included in the group’s world tour stops, Denise pushed through with going to South Korea instead: “I really wanted to see Super Junior and watch them perform live…. Super excited na ako (I was just so excited) that they can now do offline concerts again after two years.”
The lull in the live music front was also what drove Niqui to attend SEVENTEEN’s Be The Sun concert in Seoul from June 25 to 26. “Due to the pandemic, concerts were put on hold for more than two years so I told myself that as soon as South Korea’s borders open for tourists and concerts resume, I will apply for a visa to watch SEVENTEEN’s concert,” she shared.
The same went for Madz, a graduating nursing student, Dani, a college student, and Aichi, a business owner. Their main reason for visiting Seoul was to attend a K-pop concert.
Following their successful trip, they shared with Rappler their experiences, which other Filipino fans can take tips from.
Making the Seoul trip happen
For all of them, the most important factor when going to a K-pop concert in South Korea is successfully securing a concert ticket.
They said that Filipino fans should do ample research on the process for ticket selling as several entertainment companies and concert promoters have different guidelines and requirements. Luckily, tickets can also be purchased online, which makes it easier for fans outside of South Korea to secure theirs.
Denise also pointed out that some groups have pre-sales for members of their official fan clubs. They warned, though, that it won’t be easy, considering that many fans from around the world are also trying to secure tickets online. And if the tickets on the website have already been sold out, some resort to buying tickets from resellers on other social media platforms.
In Niqui’s case, she got her ticket for the concert’s second day on the official website, while she bought her ticket for the first day from a reseller on Twitter.
“I was advised by friends to be very careful when buying tickets on Twitter since there are quite a lot of scammers. A Vietnamese friend who lives in Seoul told me that if the prices are triple or even more than the original ticket price, that’s mostly a scam. If you buy from Twitter and you get blocked after sending your payment, then you have been definitely scammed. So best to check the account [of the seller] when it was created,” she said.
Madz echoed the sentiment, saying that before buying from a reseller, it’s best to verify the ticket first. She said that for the Be The Sun concert, names are already printed on the ticket. So for reselling transactions, the original owner has to be comfortable enough to accompany the buyer in claiming the ticket for it to be valid.
After securing their concert tickets, that’s when they started processing their visas. Niqui recalled that the list of requirements – which are all listed down on the Korean Embassy website – depends on the tourist’s classification whether they’re student, employed, self-employed, housewife, etc.
Aside from the concert ticket and visa, fans traveling to South Korea should also arrange flights and accommodations for their trip. Expenses for the RT-PCR tests, food, transportation, and other necessities should also be included in the budget. Some agencies also offer tour packages that include concert tickets and accommodations near the venue, which international fans could also consider.
What makes a Seoul concert special?
While most K-pop groups often include the Philippines as part of their world tour, many fans say that it’s still different if you attend a concert in Seoul. “Watching them in their home country is a whole different kind of experience you’ll never regret in your life,” Dani said.
Aichi recalled that Seoul concerts usually last longer compared to international stops because artists are more talkative during their ments: “They freely express themselves on the stage since the show is run under the assumption that the majority of the crowd would understand Korean. There are no translators for international fans.”
Fans also notice that on international stops, there are usually changes in the overall production such as the number of songs in the setlist, or the absence of backup dancers as compared to the shows in Seoul. There’s also additional perks such as raffle prizes and other executions for fans in Seoul concerts that aren’t often found in international stops.
“Ticket prices are cheaper [in Seoul concerts as compared to international stops] but international fans would also have to spend for other travel expenses, so it might not be cheaper in the end,” Aichi added.
Making the overall trip worth it
Aside from experiencing a K-pop concert in Seoul, having the chance to roam around South Korea also makes their trip memorable.
“The top thing to consider is to make your visit there worthwhile. If you’re able to get more vacation days, consider going to other places outside Seoul as well. Plan it efficiently to save up on expenses. It would also be more fun if you could go there with other K-pop enthusiast friends,” Denise said.
While Niqui, Madz, and Aichi all went to Seoul alone, they were able to meet Filipino fans who also attended the concert that made their trip in South Korea more fun. “I initially planned to go on the trip alone. But in a fandom, you really are never alone, I guess,” Aichi said, recalling that she and her friends ended up visiting places that their idols went to during their stay in Seoul.
“If fellow fans can and have the means to, they should definitely go [to Seoul for a concert, too]. It’s a whole different experience as a fan,” Madz recalled.
Niqui added, “As long as you are capable, why not give it a try. It is a good experience and you can keep memories that will never be forgotten. But I also believe that there is always a perfect time for everything. So, no need to rush, just be patient and once you get there, you can say all the wait was worth it.” – Rappler.com