My K-Pop Experience: My Ears Are Bleeding!

Did you ever attend a boy band concert? I did. Not as a teenager as many of my classmates did during my teenage days. But as an adult (if I want to call myself adult), chaperoning a teenager.

My experience began at the checkroom where I met one of my students who worked at the venue. In my head I was screaming: JUST CHAPERONING! I’M NOT INTO K-POP! (‘Hey, I’m just doing some research!’)

Then it began. We went upstairs. Follow the screaming. It was bewildering. Why is it so noisy? I’ve been to concerts and music festivals, but I never experienced anything like this before. Then I realized: it’s the ‘boy band factor.’ Small girls, teenagers, and young women, a few adult women in their twenties, thirties, and forties. Mostly female visitors. And all of them screaming at the top of their lungs. (The Madonna vs. Michael Jackson party reminded me of this concert, but wasn’t as screamy as the concert. Not at all.)

I wasn’t the only chaperone at the concert. Many chaperones seemed to be parents, most of them lined up against the wall leading to the bathrooms. Their faces showed a number of expressions: annoyed, bemused, bored, impatient. When will this evening be over?

Those who attended of their own free will continued screaming. Photographs and videos were forbidden after the first few songs–for an unobstructed view in the back of the hall, I assumed. Or maybe they didn’t want the entire concert later uploaded on YouTube. Some girls were crying, so happy to finally see their beloved stars. Some had super special (and super expensive) platinum tickets. They were allowed to enter the concert hall earlier and stay longer, have some pictures taken with the band, get autographs.

And here’s the downside of events like this one: they are extremely expensive. I don’t remember how much I paid for my basic ticket, but it wasn’t cheap. The other ticket categories were pricey, some ridiculously expensive. And who are the customers? Most of them are young girls who have to save their pocket money for months (or have their parents pay if they are lucky). And then spend another fortune on merchandise. Who exploits little girls? Who does that? (I assume–or hope–that the band, most of the members teenagers themselves, wasn’t/isn’t aware of the overpricing.)

Yet, we had fun. I had fun, surprisingly.

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