We were super excited for this weekend for a long time because meeting up with friends that are tricky and rare to see is always a special occasion, and via "planning" on Kakao it rapidly spiralled into a Treat Yo Self weekend (that's a reference to Parks and Rec) starting with burgers and cider at our fav: Grabab
Import drinks? Treat yo self. AVOCADO? TREAT YO SELF.
Anyway, the next day was the actual concert and naturally we passed the time with selfies, because the road to the Olympic Park is a long and boring one.
The area outside the venue was really eerie. It's the same place as most of the other concerts we've been to, and it's usually packed with overseas attendees, fanclub meets, and a long, winding queue for the merch stand. This time, however, it was mostly deserted.
We'd been following ticket sales in the run-up to the concert and what should have been a sold out event, or close to it, suddenly had a huge number of cancellations thanks to MERS and the useless reporting on it. There should have been pretty much 0 risk of infection with the precautions they had set up, but still nobody bought up the tickets, mostly fans from China and Japan with poor info sources and pressure from their peers.
The disinfectant spray, thermal imaging tents, grey skies and white sand (?) all the way through the entranceway made it look even creepier than the lack of people. It definitely felt a bit like a zombie apocalypse was happening.
|One lone info booth where the dozens of merch and promo tents usually stand.|
|TVXQ-branded MERS info|
The show was an 'encore', so it was basically the same as the one we went to a few months ago, so we knew it was going to be great regardless of any minor changes. The main difference I noticed was that on every seat was a bracelet that looked like a watch, except the 'face' lit up in various colours. At several points during the show, the bracelets reacted to something (possibly radio signals? Whatever it was, it was spectacular and effective) and the whole room would light up and flash in unison, sometimes even with each section having a different colour.
It's such a shame so many people cancelled, especially when this was one of their last shows for a long time if not maybe forever ;A; Everything was fantastic, but the fan surprise (as is standard at these events) flopped slightly due to large gaps in the crowd :(
Each person was meant to hold up a carefully-placed giant card, red or white, at a certain point in the show, and it would spell out some cute message for the boys to see. I'm not sure if it worked or not in some places. Nicolette and I had to hold up 2 cards each and other people around us joined in to fill out the huge empty row either side of us.
As we were leaving, I stubbed my toe whilst tripping on the heels of the person in front of me, partly because it was so crowded and partly because I'm clumsy as heck. Unfortunately it started to bleed, so I ducked away to one side to try and tend to it.
Suddenly, as if from nowhere, we were descended on by a group of Japanese mums (they looked like mums, anyway) all clucking over me and asking if I was okay. It was incredibly reassuring. One of them was rummaging in her bag and talking to the others in much faster Japanese than they'd been using to us, and another informed me that she was a pharmacist! (That one was in English)
They presented me with an array of plasters for my poor toe, checked I was okay aside from that and then just chatted to us for a while. So friendly! They asked us if we were students, where we were staying, if we were also attending the concert the next day. They also told us we should visit Japan some day and were very pleased when we said we'd already visited before!
We let Justin take most of the conversation, with interjections from myself, because he has the best Japanese out of the 4 of us, but I'm really impressed with how much we understood even if we couldn't say anything, and how quickly we managed to gear-shift from English/Korean to Japanese.
We thanked them for their help, and before we could leave, they all rummaged in their bags again and presented us with a different kind of flashing bracelet. They told us they were from TVXQ's last concert in Japan (where all the great merchandise comes from! Why, Korea, why?). TVXQ are REALLY popular in Japan, and I think more of the audience that day were Japanese than Korean, haha.
To round off day 1, we upheld tradition (and the "treat yo self" mantra) and went to McDonalds for disgustingly soul-crushing-yet-satisfying fast food at 1am (whoever invented the 24hr McDs was an evil genius)
I'll spare you an unnecessarily long post about the next day and make a separate post for it.