Oct 13, 2012

My Friend the K-pop Star

Last weekend was a three-day weekend, with Monday being a national holiday (体育の日, Taiiku no Hi- Sports and Health Day).  Did the mountain-climbing thing on Saturday, and then Sunday was just a day for recuperation.  Monday was also mainly going to be another relax day, maybe go run some errands, but as I was sitting around Sunday night being lazy on Facebook, a friend of mine messaged me.  He was one of my housemates when I lived at the guesthouse in Osaka for a month last year.  He's back in Korea now, but we still message back and forth every once and a while, which is why I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary when he first sent me a message, asking if I was still in Tokyo.
I said not exactly Tokyo but close enough, and then he asked if I was free the next evening.
At first I was thinking, Oh maybe he's in Japan visiting or something?
But then he said, My friend is in a Korean band and they're performing tomorrow night in Tokyo.  If you'd like you should go, you can get in for free, just give them your name.
I was like, What, really?? Okay, sure!
K-pop is my guilty pleasure.  When I was first introduced I just waved it off- just a bunch of silly boy bands after all.  But I suppose growing up in the boy-band era of the 90s with N*Sync and Backstreet Boys and all that, the nostalgia won me over.  The music is quite catchy too, in my opinion.

Anyway, he sent me a link to their Japanese website ( http://ntrain.hanryu-concert.com/ ), and then said, My friend is the band's leader, lol.
Wow, talk about connections!  I don't think they're too well known here yet- definitely not Super Junior or TVXQ status- but I feel like they are gaining some popularity.  They had a pretty good turnout at their show.
Anyway, of course I agreed after confirming if I could bring Roomie with me.  Gave him our full names, and that was it.

The next day I was really nervous on the way there.  I wasn't sure how to go about the whole "just give the staff your name" business.. it felt so VIP, and I had just found out about the band the day before!  I was telling Roomie I felt like I was going to get up there and tell them our names and then they'd be like, "Who are you?  We don't have your names down anywhere, goodbye!"
And that, kinda almost happened lol.

Getting there
We went up to the counter where you could pick up pre-purchased tickets or buy day-of tickets, and told them our names.  They of course didn't have our names down on their sheet.  I told them my Korean friend's name too, but they didn't have anything under his name either!  I pulled up Facebook (hooray for 3G smartphones!  Glad I bought one finally) and showed the guy the conversation with my friend, and the kanji for his name too just in case.  They still couldn't find anything, and while they could've just said, "Sorry, we have no proof of anything for you and we can't just go off of some Facebook conversation", they still gave us free tickets inside.  Granted, they were the cheaper 3000-yen seats, but I feel like if the same thing had happened in the US it would've just been a too-bad-so-sad sort of ordeal.

After we sat down though I messaged my friend again and told him that I told the staff our names but they didn't know anything about it.  He messaged back rather quickly saying, "What?  Just a second, someone should be coming to get you soon."
And sure enough, not even five minutes after we had sat down, one of the staff came and got us and took us up to I think about the 3rd row- to the expensive 7500-yen seats!

The Show
Then the show started.  They came out and did one of the only two songs of theirs that I had been able to find on Youtube, which I think are the only two songs they've officially released?  They did another song, I don't remember what but I don't think it was one of theirs.  I really don't remember!  After they did two (or possibly three, according to Roomie) songs they talked to the audience.  A lot, lol!  It was great seeing them try their hardest to speak in Japanese, and they honestly did quite well and only had to rely on the translator a couple times, though I still had trouble understanding their accents..  Any accent when someone is speaking Japanese is hard for me.. actually, the only accent I'm used to is my Filipino coworker's accent, haha.
The best part though was when Yu Jin said, "ウンコください!  (Unko kudasai! Poop please!)" instead of "音楽ください! (Ongaku kudasai! Music please!)"
They each came out and did their own solo thing- Jung Kyun (my friend's friend) first on the piano and singing.  Next was Sang Woo I believe.  He played the guitar, then did some stuff on the piano too.  They all had really amazing voices, but Sang Woo especially- when he started singing, Roomie and I looked at each other just like, "Wow!"  It was nice to hear that they all were really great singers even without all the synthesizers.  
After him was Soul J, who did a break dance of sorts with a couple backup dancers, which also involved him ripping off his shirt.  He then surprised us with an amazing cover of "I Believe I Can Fly".  Then was Seung Hyun, who came out and did a pretty good cover of Linkin Park.
Last was Yu Jin, who is adorable, though I don't remember what he sang.  I was too tickled by the whole poop mistake.  x)
They all came out again, talked to the audience some more, did a few more covers, and gave us a preview of some new song they're releasing.  Oh, and as a surprise for Soul J's birthday (which is this month) they had everyone at the show use green or pink paint to leave their fingerprints on a shirt as they came into the venue.  I left a couple green fingerprints not even knowing what the T-shirt was for or anything.  They brought out a cake and presented Soul J with the shirt.

They came back out for an encore, then the show ended.  The five of them went around to stand in a line in front of the exit to clasp/shake hands with everyone as they left.  Roomie and I were the last ones in to leave from the pricey area, and as we approached them, Yu Jin, who was first in the line, looked sooooo surprised to see a couple of whiteys there!  His eyes got all big and he looked soooo excited and said, "OH!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!" as he grabbed our hands (they weren't doing normal handshakes, it was more like a double high-five hand-clasp-in-the-air thing).  It was weird to have a (semi-)famous person be so excited to see me!  Then I approached Jung Kyun who was in the middle of the line, and when he saw me I think he realized who I was, because his eyes got all big and he was trying to ask me if I was so-and-so's friend, though I didn't get a chance to answer because there was some staff lady who was standing there and pushing everyone along, so I tried to nod my head and shout "yes" before I was pushed out of sight.

Roomie and I were standing out around the merchandise booth, trying to figure out how to get into the signing session so I could at least try to greet him properly, when a cameraman came up wanting to interview us.  I hope they never air that footage because it was so awkward having this huge camera lens a mere foot away from my face, and to finish it up they wanted us to give a special message to the band while holding the little file-folder set I had just bought in an attempt to get a pass to the signing session.  All I could think of was I just found out about these guys yesterday, what the hell should I even say!?  We ended up just saying generic things like, "We love you N-Train!  We're rooting for you! Ganbatte! Fight (said with Japanese accent)!"
Afterward we found out that we'd have to buy this 4000-yen merchandise set to get into the signing session, and were just ready to give up and leave when the staff guy that brought us to our special seats came to fetch us and took us upstairs where the signing was taking place, then just left us there right near the signing table.  Roomie and I stood there awkwardly while waiting for the signing session to finish, all the while trying to ignore the stares of all the people in line who were probably thinking "Who the hell are they?"
Roomie said she saw Jung Kyung pointing to me and (probably) explaining to the other guys who I was.  After the signing finished, they all came over to greet us- shook our hands, introduced themselves in English, thanked us for coming, yadda yadda.  They all seemed genuinely nice.  Then Jung Kyung suggested we all take a picture, so the group gathered and one of the staff took a picture with my phone.  They of course were very busy and the staff/management people were trying to hurry them away for whatever they had to do next.  We said our goodbyes, Jung Kyung shook my hand again and.. said something along the lines of contacting me through our friend.  Or something.  (Two non-native Japanese speakers speaking Japanese to each other can sometimes lead to miscommunications!)

Anyway, that was that.  My friend must really be close to Jung Kyung because by the time I got home and logged onto Facebook, my friend messaged me saying, "How was it?  Jung Kyung told me you guys took a picture, I want to see it!"  So I uploaded it, he tagged me and Jung Kyung, and then later Jung Kyung sent me a friend request.  (Because nothing's official until it's on Facebook right?)
So that was my unexpected, most exciting moment of the year, haha.  And I did enjoy their performance and I do like the two songs they have out, so if K-pop is your thing I would definitely recommend checking out N-Train.  :)

Back, from L to R: Roomie, me, Jung Kyun.  Middle, LtoR: Yu Jin, Seung Hyun, Sang Woo.  Front: Soul-J

(In addition to my hair looking stupid, I just realized... I'm the oldest one in this picture, and that makes me sad!)

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