How to: See your favourite K-pop artists (Inkigayo Edition)

This sign leads to free mini-concerts!

Disclaimer: This is only one of many possible ways to go to an Inkigayo taping. Depending on the time of your artists’ pre-taping, the size of their fan club, and when you arrive, your situation may be different.

Concerts are not something that happen often with Korean artists. Many artists will debut with their CDs and singles long before they get their first concert. Groups like SHINee, who have been around 2008, only had their first solo concert at the end of 2010. When concerts do happen, they are expensive and the ticket sales can be very competitive.

So how is a fan, a foreign fan especially, suppose to see their favourite artists? Easy – by watching music shows in Korea. Getting in to see a taping of a music show isn’t nearly as impossible as it may feel, as long as you’re willing to put the time, patience, and research into it.

What you’ll need:
~A physical copy of your artist’s latest CD or single, as proof of being a fan (which, as a true fan, shouldn’t be an added expense, right? 😉 ) or your fan club card.
~Some skill in Korean
~Your entire Sunday (the process takes most of the day)
~A cellphone (sometimes)

Before Sunday, look into the artists performing that week on this page . If you have access to the fan club for your artists, check on their website. Sometimes, there will be a taping list that you can get yourself on. If you are not a card carrying member of the fan club, be prepared to spend your entire day towards this, and getting in still won’t be a sure thing.

On Sunday, show up as early as humanly possible. The SBS station is at Gayang station, on line 9. Take exit 10 and turn left after leaving the exit. The SBS building is about a block from the exit.

There are two reasons you want to show up as early as possible:
1. Pre-tapings can start very early, depending on the events happening during them (fan signs, handshake events, etc etc)
2. Korean fans are very hard core when it comes to supporting their musicians. They will have been there much earlier than you. And will scream louder than you and seem crazier than you.

“Pre-tapings?” You may ask. “But I thought Inkigayo was a live show!” And it is. But, the way these show manage to work flawlessly as a live show is by pre-recording any performances that will be back to back with another song, or with major sets or effects. This way, the artists will still be on stage during the live taping, but the song has been recorded before with all the effects and sets needed, without worrying about something happening in the mad rush of changing the set. The big groups, like 2ne1, DBXQ, Girls Generation, etc etc will all have some kind of pre-taping to allow for perfection on stage and fan events.

This was about half the group of people showing up for SNSD/Girls Generation. At 9 am.

So it’s Sunday morning, and you’ve arrived at the SBS station, your CD in hand, and one of two things may happen.

1. You’ll see a crowd of people holding the same CD. Join them, try and be adopted as one of their own. Someone in the group will speak just enough English to tell you what you need to do next.

2. There is no crowd holding your CD, just a sign on the steps or taped to a tree that says your group’s name, and a phone number, along with lots of other Korean words.

Now, my Korean is beyond pathetic, so this is where I turn to my friends who are better than me at Korean and get them to call for us. Or, some kind soul will be there who speaks English and helps. What that sign is saying is that the person in charge of the fan club line up is not there. Calling the number on the sign is very important, because it will get you to the person with The List.

With both options, you need to find the person with The List. This list keeps you in queue for tickets into the show. The person in charge of The List will sometimes do roll call to see if you’re still there. And if you’re not? You’re off The List.

I never said getting into Inkigayo was easy. Just free.

I was #2 in line to see 2AM back in November

If you’re not a member of the fan club, all of this waiting may be in vain. Even if you were there at 7am, if card carrying fan club members show up later, they get priority. Depending on what group you’re going to see, this could be enough to bump you far enough down the line to not get into the main taping. In the two times I’ve been though, they’ve often found a way to make sure the two foreign girls get to go in. Which is nice. 🙂

Some time in the afternoon, you’ll be given a number with your group. This is your spot in line, generally no exceptions after that. Once you have this number, this is when you’ll get a good idea of if you’ll get in or not. As long as you have a decent number, you’ll probably get in. I’ve gotten in with the #17 on my wrist as well, so even when they say there might only be 10 seats, I’ve found they’re good at squishing people into the building. But don’t take any chances! Now that you have your number, do your best to stay very close to the station, in case they start handing out tickets.

Victory! Ticket = Got!

Getting the ticket is the ultimate goal. The ticket means there is a seat in the audience for you, fan clubs be damned. You can relax and breathe easy once that ticket is in your hand. Now all you’re required to do is stick around and wait for them to start lining up according to group. You do not get to keep the ticket, so take a photo of it to prove you’ve been there! You do get a really cool magazine though with the artists being featured that month, which is fun to read.

Going to Inkigayo is a long day. Depending on the weather, it can be a tough afternoon on your feet most of the time. To make things better, here are some final tips:

♥ Wear practical shoes. You’ll be standing most of the day.
♥ Keep some snacks on you, in case you’re too lazy / paranoid of losing your spot in line to go over to the Home Plus or the Seven-11 down the road.
♥ Dress for the weather! You will be outside most of the day on an open sidewalk. There is not much shelter from wind or sun. There are some heaters put out in the winter, but they’re close to useless.
✽ Avoid voicing your love for all the bands performing while in line. You may be excited to see many of your favourite artists at once, but remember that the Korean fans can sometimes be very focused. If you start voicing love for groups other than the one you’re lining up for the fans look at you strangely. I don’t know if anything would come of it, but I choose to just keep quiet about the other bands until I get inside.

That’s about it! I hope that this helps you in getting to see Inkigayo live. If you do go, or this has helped you at all, leave a comment to let me know how your show went!