I wanted to write this post for two reasons.
One, to document the first time I attended a K-pop concert in Korea – something of a bucket list goal that I always wanted to accomplish ever since I started down the slippery path that is fan-girlism.
Two, to share my experience with SMTOWN Travel’s S.M. Global Package for anyone who is considering travel for a concert.
If the title and big picture above isn’t clear enough already, I watched EXO’s encore concert of their 3rd world tour – The EXO’rDIUMdot in their home ground of Seoul in May 2017.
Why Select SMTOWN Travel’s Global Package?
If you are reading this post, you most likely are a fan of K-pop and you would know just how notoriously hard it can be to get tickets to concerts in Seoul. Well, luckily for international fans, S.M. Entertainment has their own travel agency in SMTOWN Travel and you are given a chance to watch your favorite artists on stage. While chances of you getting a ticket via the Global Package is definitely higher than going through the regular ticketing channels, do take note that for the Korean concerts at least, places are likely to be limited and sell out fast. I opted to take up the Global Package for the security of knowing that I would have secured my spot for the concert with an official ticket (and not try my luck getting a ticket from a reseller or scalper) plus the convenience of having transportation to/from the concert venue (this was especially important for me even though I am relatively familiar with Korea).
I won’t bore you with the details of what I went through to get the Global Package, but in short I missed the first round of tickets and managed to scrape through the second round that was opened on the following day. Some pointers specifically for fans who are considering to take up the Global Package for concerts in Seoul:
- Make up your mind ahead of time whether you want to see just one night, two nights or all nights of the concert once dates are released. I say this because I dithered over my choice and eventually semi-regretted that I only opted for the final night of the concert.
- From my booking experience and reading other write-ups of the Global Package for previous tours, there will usually be 3 or 4 categories of the Global Package for concerts in Korea. Premium (which is the full luxury and works), Deluxe or Superior (lesser than Premium but better than the next category), and Economy (cheaper but good enough). All categories will come with options for the number of concerts/nights that you could possibly want to attend. All categories also have the option for a Single (solo) or Twin (share with a friend).
- Once you have secured your preferred Global Package reservation, it is important that you make payment to confirm your spot as soon as possible. I have heard that the second round of tickets is released because people didn’t make their payment on time to confirm their reservations. (You wouldn’t want that to happen to you, right?) SMTOWN Travel only accepts credit card payments via PayPal, so it would be wise to make sure that you have a valid card attached to your PayPal account before the booking frenzy starts.
- Another thing to bear in mind is that the Global Package only covers the cost of your concert ticket, accommodation, transportation to/from the concert venue, and tours (if you opt for it). Your flight tickets to Korea (or whichever country it is) and transportation costs to your hotel are not included.
What Happens Next After You Successfully Booked Your Global Package?
Nothing much really. Hahaha.
It may seem a bit anti-climatic, but you don’t get any official emails about the trip or the concert until two weeks before. Then there will be a flurry of emails with details about your hotel and surveys on preferences for food and tours depending on which tour category you selected. And most important of all, the opening of pre-orders for concert merchandise. You get to pre-order your concert merchandise and they will deliver it all to the hotel for you so you don’t have to lug your stuff with you to the concert venue (unless you want to do so, of course).
Other than that, all you have to do is book your flight tickets and do whatever (fan) preparations you need to enjoy your experience to the fullest.
When You Arrive in Korea
SMTOWN Travel will usually set up a booth in the lobby of the hotel you are based at. For this trip, I was at Hotel Peyto in Gangnam.
Collect your precious concert ticket and Global Package tour souvenirs from the booth where you’ll randomly select your concert ticket from a pile of envelopes – you will be seated in a section together with the rest of the other Global Package participants but you won’t know where you are at exactly until you open up the envelope. (So nerve wracking!)
If you have pre-ordered any concert merchandise, this is when you’ll pick it up too. Bring along your passport (or ID equivalent) and a print-out of the receipt for your pre-ordered merchandise to speed things up.
For a true blue (or die hard) fan, you’ll probably need to allocate a good portion of your luggage space to bring back all the goodies and fan merchandise.
If you have opted for the tours, you’ll have to be up bright and early. Otherwise, your day starts in the afternoon when you are picked up from the hotel to stop by SMTOWN at COEX Artium to spend on yet more merchandise. The tour guides will be handing some extra goodies at this point – for EXO’rDIUMdot it was random magnetic bookmarks of the members.
After that, you’ll be whisked off to the concert venue, which is where the concert experience really began for me.
You will arrive at the concert venue with plenty of time to walk about – I highly recommend you do as there are usually activity booths where people queue up and also it’s a great time to look around for your favorite fansite masters and get more fan merchandise or banners.
Photography and videography during the concert is strictly frowned on. Unless you want to get forced out of your seat by the random patrolling staff. So put away your phone and just be fully present, in the moment, and enjoy the concert! (There will be photos and videos taken by other people anyway. You can look at those later.)
If the concert you are attending uses the Wyth app, make sure you install it! This technological marvel totally enhances the experience as evidenced by the beautiful light stick rainbow formed by EXO-Ls during the EXO’rDIUMdot.
After the concert ends, you will have about an hour to exit the venue and get back to the buses that will take you back to your hotel. As a sweet finale, SMTOWN Travel provides something light to munch on and another bottle of water to re-hydrate you after all the screaming and singing you would have done.
Final (Personal) Thoughts
Having attended several EXO concerts outside of Korea, I can say for certain that concerts in Korea are of an entirely different level altogether. For one, the boys are on home ground and it shows so clearly. Not that they aren’t professional in giving a great performance in other countries, but their comfort level and confidence just skyrockets in Korea and it is so tangible.
Not only do the artists feel closer to the fans, but the fervor and dedication of Korean fans are really something else. Fan chants, sing-a-longs, special events, banners… it’s amazing to see how united the fans are.
Also, because the venue is on home ground, the technical scale of lighting, pyrotechnics, fireworks, lasers, and all of the stuff that makes up a concert – it really is on a different level all together.
Lastly, while I am all for every fangirl (or fanboy) to see your idol on stage, as a responsible adult I would add that you should make sure that you are well aware of what you’re getting and also your financial capabilities. Oppa (or hyung) wouldn’t want you to go into bankruptcy for him.