Thursday, 31 December 2015

SM Tour and Rookies Concert

Memorise these tiny, adolescent faces.
Because in a few years' time, if EXO are anything to go by, and the fact they already have a lot of hardcore fans before they've even debuted, they'll be all you hear about for a long time.

We went to the COEX mall again, because SM were holding a few concerts for their "Rookies". If you're not particularly down with your kpop info, most of the big record labels still live in the 90s golden era of manufactured pop stars. And, despite all the jokes we made (and still make) about it, I think in the case of a lot of these artists, they're a lot better off for it.

They hold auditions to pluck willing and highly-talented (and beautiful) tributes barely out of nappies (okay, slight exaggeration, but they're usually primary school age when they get taken in) from the public sphere and basically put them into Pop Music Hogwarts. Or maybe Fame Academy. Whatever. They live in dormitories, usually with their future group members-to-be, and get trained daily by the best vocal coaches, choreographers, public speakers, models, personal trainers, drama teachers, musicians, etc, to be the perfect pop star.

And to be honest, it pays off. I'll get more into that later, but basically they school these kids until they're "ready" and then pop out a group of ready-made celebrities every few years or so. One of the things that's impressive is how prepared they are for hoards of screaming fans. I suppose it's because they gradually expose them to this most terrifying part of fame throughout their training. We'd seen some of the older Rookies during the SM Town concert as backing dancers and occasionally given a brief set to sing or dance. Presumably, this series of shows was also to get them used to a concert environment as well as gauge popularity, what works, what doesn't, and to generate hype.

SO. Being rather into kpop (in case you couldn't tell), we fought our way to some tickets and headed over to the COEX. We popped into the merchandise shop just to see if there was anything interesting or new, but mostly I was amused by the fact they'll brand ANYTHING. Here's a multipack of snack nuts (called Super Nuts, presumably linked to Super Foods) and someone presumably went "omg, you know what else starts with Super? Super Junior. Slap some faces on it. Boom. Done."

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Seoul Food | Cheese Otaku

Been a while since I did a post like this, eh
Now this is a story all about how... we went and ate an absolutely enormous meal back in June. Hongdae is a great place for food of all kinds, so it's hard to get bored considering the amount of choice they've packed into one area.

We went to Cheese Otaku (치즈오타쿠), a Japanese-themed restaurant along the "barbecue street" where the star of the show is a gigantic platter (with different sizes starting at, I think, a 2 person serving) that sits in a custom slot in the table to keep the food warm, sauces at the right consistency, and to melt cheese. CHEESE!

I guess it should be obvious from the name that you get a lot of cheese.

Depending on the portion you buy, you also get a sizeable chunk of a whole chicken. Goodness me.

There's also fried rice, fried chicken, corn, and a million other things all on this sizzling platter. I can't remember if it came with fries or if we ordered extra. But they were there and they were rapidly consumed.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

BoA 봐

photo stolen from Nick, sorry
Just another short post to mark the fact we saw BoA live! We go to an awful lot of concerts here because we're very aware that once we leave Korea, we probably won't have another chance to see Korean artists, and especially not for the same price. 

I saw Big Bang and Super Junior in London, and the atmosphere wasn't the same either. I don't think the shows were as long, and not as spectacular either, because I suppose venue rules and last trains are different, they can't ship over some of the set pieces, and they can't chat to the audience very easily.

We shared this bingsu with 예슬 the night before. LOOK AT IT.
Also, I tried to make some sort of fake kimbap without it falling to pieces.
This is the building it was in. A proper concert hall by Gyeongbokgung
We arrived at the venue pretty early, so after working out what doors we'd need to go in through, and scoping out the merchandise (as ever: disappointing) we went for a walk in the sun. (Remember when that was a thing you could do? Ah, winter.) There was a huge poster set up in the lobby for taking a picture with, but there was also a huge queue, so we decided it wasn't worth it.

The building itself was beautiful though, so it was great just to wander around there and take photos from afar.

It was summer, and I spotted a Gong Cha, so I was determined to have some bubble tea to tide me over until the show started.

Monday, 28 December 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 15)

Last one! This was the last day before we packed up, headed to the airport, and got on that long, long flight back to Korea.

First of all we met up with one of Nick's friends, and I'm glad we got to meet and walk around Liberty for a while. It's a beautiful shop full of beautiful things and I like to daydream about filling my non-existent house with their products.

But then I had to zoom off to make one of the last arrangements of my holiday, which was with a group of people I've known for a very long time, but never actually managed to meet (other than Syd, once) before now. So I was super nervous as well as excited.

We decided to meet at Five Guys (yet another burger! What am I doing?!) which was great because I'd been meaning to go there for a while. I mean, I know it's just another US burger chain, but with all the hype I at least wanted to check it out.

Actually, we stayed at Five Guys for about...five hours. Quite possibly tried every one of their multitude of soft drinks (they seem to have every shade of Fanta, Coke and Sprite under the sun) and some combinations, which lasted us well after the burgers and fries were long gone, supplemented by the free peanuts. Free peanuts!! After a while we were just cracking them to have something to do with our hands. Not wanting to waste anything, we took all the shelled nuts home in little boxes 🙈

Monday, 14 December 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 14)

Photo stolen from Loti. Sorry/thanks Loti 🙈
So, I got up bright and early the next day to speed my way to Stratford to meet up with Loti from uni and actually meet her son and husband-to-be, for the first time. Even though it was only a few hours I was glad to meet up, have a wander and catch up before heading on to my next appointment. 
Busy busy busy.

Sadly, these are the only two pictures I have from Nat and Andy's barbecue that we went to. The picture on the left being a wasp we trapped and shamed for bothering us, feat. excellent lamb cooked by Andy (or what was left of it). The picture on the right is some remnants of the cakes that I devoured before considering the fact I should maybe take a picture. If I remember rightly that green cupcake was alcoholic. Gin and tonic? Tequila? I can't remember because someone kept providing me with generous glasses of white wine. ;p Either way it was all delicious, as expected, and absolutely hilarious, as expected. I think I had a cry on the way home. I cried a lot that week and continue to despise my slow descent into being a massive crybaby.

We did take some polaroids, but they don't photograph well, so you have my apologies.
Nick also took one where we look like some kind of dysfunctional Victorian family at a funeral but I forgot to take a picture of it, so you'll just have to imagine that one :p

This is the strangest and most wonderful photo I've taken so far
Nick x Monkey = true love

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