Going to MNET’s M!Countdown in Seoul

I will write about my experience here because in order to go there, I could only rely on other people’s blog posts… and there weren’t a lot ! I had a vague idea how it works, but I was still very confused when I arrived there. So I will explain how it went for me, and hopefully it can help other people who want to go !

I’ve read that MCountdown is the easiest show to get in for foreigners, so I choose this one. It’s recorded every Thursday. I went there on May 10th, 2012.

I took the first train in the morning to the Digital Media City Station (line 6 or Airport Railroad). You need to take exit 2 and to cross the street to get on the 7711 bus. The stop is called 상암DMC (Sangam Digital Media City Public Information Hall) and it’s the third stop. I took the train around 5h35 near Hongdae and I was there at 6h00.

Once I got off the bus I recognized the wall where we are supposed to line up (I saw pictures of it on other blogs). There were maybe 15-20 people. I asked two people and they told me to go see a guy who was standing close by and to give him my name. I did so, and the guy told me to come back by 7 am. So I just sit and waited. Meanwhile, I met two other foreigners and a Korean girl that were as confused as I was.

At 7am people started gathering around the guy who took the names earlier. He called the names and wrote a number on our wrists. I was number 25. Then he told us to come back by 8am. What I found out later is that this guy was simply the first one to show up, so he was in charge of “the list”. There is no official organization for this !

Basically, I got a place for the live broadcast, but many performances are pre-recorded. In order to get into the pre-recording you would need to bring the last album of the artist. For some bigger bands, you sometimes need more than that. I knew more or less who were the main artists on the show this week (it’s easy to know if you watch the show regularly). The problem is I didn’t know who was pre-recording on that day… and I didn’t know if I needed a CD to get in the live broadcast. So I brought U-Kiss’ latest album. The girls I met brought the B.A.P album. So we were waiting to see if the fanclubs would be coming, but nobody came. We found out a bit too late that U-Kiss were out of the country, so the pre-recording was done last week, and that B.A.P were performing live on that day. I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t see U-Kiss, but still happy as I would get to see B.A.P. at the live broadcast.

The main pre-recording on that day was Exo-K. There was a paper on the wall saying Exo-K and something in Korean. After talking to the Korean girl (who was there for Exo-K) I found out that people had to take a picture of their hand next to the paper and to send it to the phone number mentioned. And then wait. My cell phone doesn’t work in Korea, so I couldn’t have done it !

At this point there weren’t so many people and we were a bit surprised. It might be because the bands performing were not the most popular. I would have expected more people because of SNSD’s Taetiseo but I found out later that they weren’t there on that day. (performance was pre-recorded earlier) It was A-Pink’s comeback day, and the fan club was there early, but there weren’t so many people.

Around 8am things started to move. MNET’s staff came out and called the numbers for the live broadcasting. He wrote our names on a paper. Now that was the official list ! I was now number 24 and certain to enter ! I had to be back by 5pm.

The building :

Besides, the Exo-K fan club responsible arrived and called the names of the people who sent pictures. Afterwards, I saw many people going to see her and get a number, so I did the same and was placed in line. After a while, someone came to check if everyone has the CD, so since I didn’t have it, I was given another number. I knew at that point I wouldn’t enter, but I was really impressed with the whole process. I wonder who are actually these “fan club staff”… At the end they let only 40 people in, so a little less than half of the line.

Something similar happened for the A-Pink pre-recording but there were not so many people. People without the CD were able to get in, but since I have no interest in A-Pink, I didn’t try. Maybe I should have, just to experience the pre-recording.

Funny thing : I left to go back home a few minutes after the Exo-K fans entered the building for the pre-recording. When I arrived at the street, I noticed a black car with windows wide open, because there were guys inside laughing and talking really loud. As I took a closer look, I thought : “wow, these guys are all dressed up, they look like a band…” but at the same time, I thought “no way they would go around like this with the window wide open…” Then I went to the traffic light to cross the street, and the car continued and stopped in front of me because the light turned red. I looked again and realized : they were actually Exo-K ! And nobody noticed them : the streets were quite empty ! That was weird.

I came back around 4h30… I sure didn’t want to be late ! At that point, a lot of people were coming. They were actually fan club members of the bands who were physically there. I saw B.A.P, SISTAR, 4minute, BtoB and A-Pink fan clubs. For each of them, there was someone with a “fan club staff” tag and they would give instructions to the fans. My understanding is that while they allow a certain number of people who line up early in the morning for the live broadcast, they also allow fan club members to get in. At this point there were our line (the longest) and a line for each fan club. It’s very important to stay in line two by two and to follow the instructions ! I don’t know how many people for each fan club they let in, but many B.A.P fans couldn’t get in. Again, I was impressed : the dedication and organization of Korean fan clubs is quite something !

We were the first line to get in. We went up the stairs and sit down on the floor in front of the studio door. Everyone entered and had to sit in lines. We could hear music in the studio as artists were practicing or sound testing. We saw the back dancers coming in and out of the studio, but we didn’t see any artist. We were told that pictures are prohibited, and to turn off our cell phones. After quite a long wait (my legs hurt !) we entered the studio. No seat : all standing. I was really really near the stage : there were only two people in front of me, and they were smaller than me so I had a perfect view.

Unfortunately, as soon as the show started some Korean girls started pushing to make their way to the front, and they were pushing really hard. I was so surprised that I unintentionally let them pass. In front there were two Chinese girls and they kept pushing them, but the Chinese girls never let them pass. Other people were pushing behind me as well. It was quite terrible. When B.A.P came on stage, it was the worst time : fans were going crazy, screaming and pushing. I really like B.A.P and their performance was awesome, but unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy it as much because of these crazy fans. I don’t know if it was all of them or only a small number, but they really ruined it for me.

In my opinion it’s quite ridiculous, because if you scream and push during the whole performance of your favorite artist, you actually don’t watch or listen to the performance. So… what’s the point ? I really don’t get it.

My favorite performances were Sunny Hill, 4minute, B.A.P and Sistar. BtoB were performing their song Father, which I don’t really like (I prefered their song Insane). B.A.P were taller than I would have imagined. All female artists were so thin and pretty, that was really impressive.

B.A.P fans went crazy again at the end, when all artists gather on the stage for the winner announcement. The winner was Taetiseo but since they were not there, there wasn’t any “encore” stage.

Still, I’m really happy that I went and that I got to closely see Kpop artists performing. It was a great experience !

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