How to: See Your Favourite K-Pop Artists for Free! (Music Core Edition)

Disclaimer: This is only one of many possible ways to go to an Music Core 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.

The main doors for MBC Dream Centre

There is a very good reason as to why this how to has taken me over a year to write:

I don’t really like Music Core.

Because of my work schedule, I’m only able to make it to two of the four major music shows that run in South Korea: Music Core and Inkigayo. I find that Inkigayo is much more user friendly, however I know some who go to Music Core only.

Lets review the basics first though.

Going to a live taping of a music show is like going to a short concert playing the top 15 songs in the nation. You get a chance to see a lot of new music, and a lot of major artists at a close range that would never be possible at a concert. It’s a fantastic experience if you’re a big fan of a group.

But, it’s not the easiest day in the world.

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? ;) ) and/or your fan club card.
~Some skill in Korean
~Your entire Saturday (the process takes most of the day)

Before you head out, make sure to check either your group’s schedule (which is more often than not on their Daum Cafe) or the Music Core website. The worst thing ever is to spend the hour or so it takes to get to Music Core, only to find out that the show has been cancelled or moved (which has happened to me before.)

One of the things that I find frustrating about Music Core is the location. Music Core is filmed at the MBC Dream Centre.  It’s about half way between Jeongbalsan Station and Mado Station on line 3. The thing with Ilsan it is really far out, and can be a really irritating commute. The fastest way to get up to Ilsan (from Seoul station, at least) is to take the Gyeongui line to Daegok and transfer to line 3 there. The Dream Centre is well marked from the station, so just follow the road signs once you’re out of the station.  Ilsan is a satellite city of Seoul, and so was designed to be well connected with buses. After making the trip a few times now, I’ve come to prefer to depend on Google Maps, especially on my iPhone. Luckily, the Dream Centre is easy to find on Google Maps. Look up “mbc 드림센터” and you’ll be able to get directions directly to the station. Personally, I prefer taking the 1000 bus to Ilsan, simply because it runs more frequently and I can nap and not think about transfers.

Once you get to the Dream Centre, you’ll notice something that Music Core has that Inkigayo doesn’t: it has SPACE. There is a large courtyard in the back of the building. On Saturdays, there will be signs set up with the names of each of the groups pre-taping or recording that day. All you need to do is line up at your sign, and wait. And wait. And wait.

One other thing that the Dream Centre has is that it has a much better variety of restaurants and cafes in the area. Including a Starbucks. Which is heaven compared to loitering in the basement of Homeplus for Inkigayo.

Other than that though, I find Music Core feels a bit disorganized compared to Inkigayo. There are no tickets, and so you have no idea if you’re getting in until the show is already running. The first time I went, for U-Kiss’ “0330” promotions comeback weekend, we were made to sit in the stairway, and I really wasn’t impressed, especially since it was COMEBACK WEEKEND. Other times, I’ve gone to Music Core, and found nobody there. The staff had no idea what was going on, or where the show was. It turned out that they had changed the location and nobody at MBC knew where to.

Just like with Inkigayo, what you’re going to do is go there as early as possible, and find your line. Almost all groups will have a sign, and a line forms there. A member of the fan club staff will be around some time in the morning or early afternoon to get the list. Until you get your number, you really shouldn’t move from the line. Once the staff come, they may have their own rules for what to do, so you need to listen carefully to them.

As mentioned in the Inkigayo write up, if you’re a fan of a larger group, and not in the fan club, all your waiting could be in vain. Fan club members always get priority, so even if you show up at 7am, a fan club member who shows up at noon will get to be before you in line, as long as they show at the time the staff say they’ll be there. Once staff show up, you will be given a number in order of line. You’ll be given a time to return, and then you’ll be able to go and get something to eat and drink, normally.

Music Core can be quite a long day, so be logical with your decisions. Here’s some suggestions:

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.
Dress for the weather! You will be outside most of the day in the open. There is not much shelter from wind or sun.
Avoid voicing your love for all the bands performing. 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. People have been kicked out of lines or banned from further line ups because they were cheering too loudly for other groups. Especially with smaller, new groups, they’re very sensitive about people cheering for bigger groups, because it looks like you’re using the group. And, technically, if you picked the smallest group because they’re the best choice to get into the show with, you ARE using them. So be careful.

I hope this post helps! If you end up going to Music Core, let me know how it goes! I hope you have better luck than I’ve had!