Music shows are one of K-pop's most important forms of artist exposure and fanservice. They showcase the new acts, the returning acts, and give fans one more way to connect to their idols. There is a music show every day of the week and artists often hit many of them in order to promote new singles, mini-albums, and albums. Internationally, they allow fans to see their idols live on a weekly basis. In Korea, attending music shows is an involved process that gives fans many opportunities to see their bias groups live.
I was lucky enough to attend a live broadcast of Mnet's M! Countdown episode # 446 on October 8, 2015. KOFICE secured entry for the Korea Joa (KJ) 2015 members and we got to see the tail ends of the live music show process. M! Countdown is pre-recorded and broadcast from CJ E&M Center Studio in Seoul, and that's where the KJ 2015 members lined up with the rest of the fans to catch the show. There were hoards of fans, most girls, carrying paraphernalia dedicated to their idol group of choice. In Korea, fans pick one group to whom they dedicate their allegiance. This is because fan club membership and ticket acquisition is such a long and involved process. Being a fan in Korea means a serious monetary and time investment. International fans like me tend to have several groups to whom they dedicate their K-pop love because we don't have the same opportunities to attend live events or the fan culture that exists in Korea.
I digress. The Korean fans who sat in orderly lines had already gone through a rigorous entry process comprised of album purchase, proof of purchase, ID, and more. Fans are ranked on their levels of dedication and place in line accordingly. That was how we KJ 2015 members found them when we queued up pre-live broadcast. Some of the acts shown on television such CN Blue and Ailee were pre-recorded and would not perform for the live audience, although CN Blue showed up to dance to their tune " Cinderella " as fan service. Pre-recording is a regular part of music shows that help the shows run smoothly by saving time for the show and the artists.
MCs Key of SHINee, Lee Jung-shin of CN Blue, and Jr. and BamBam of Got7 waited in the MC area while fans poured into the standing-room-only audience. There were several choices of where to stand: closer to the performance stage, closer to the MC area, or closer to the exit from the stage. I chose to stand closer to the MC area because I am a SHINee fan. In retrospect, the stage would've been better because the bulk of the show is music performances. It would've been nice to see them more clearly - it was nice to see Key in person, though!
The acts that performed on stage were numerous: Taeyeon had her solo debut, iKON and GOT7 duked it out for the winning spot, and Park Bo-ram, Bigflo, Oh My Girl, 2Bic, Playback, Lovelyz, Ailee, Homme, 24K, Roh Ji Hoon, DIA, Red Velvet, MONSTA X, Seventeen, CN Blue, UP10TION, JJarmongttang, and 2EYES held their comeback or goodbye stages. iKON took their first win for "Rhythm Ta", which was exciting because I had just seen their debut concert. (They were fabulous.)
The experience as an audience members was unforgettable. The music was wonderful, but the crowd was stifling. Experienced music show goers brought water and food. A few had snuck in cameras. Several girls pushed me for better standing spots; another girl protected me. The audience experience was one I didn't much care for, but I loved to see the performers, especially the ones I had seen before. It's always interesting to see how live performance differs. MONSTA X was especially impressive and KJ 2015 was fortunate enough to get photos with the group. What struck me most about the photo experience (and my first view of Key) was they they were enormously tall. The small screen doesn't do these young men justice.
It's difficult for international fans to gain access to these shows, but if you can, I would recommend attending. The experience is unforgettable.
You can find all of our Korea Joa 2015 coverage on this page.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Korea Joa] Lisa's Diary - M! Countdown"
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