Here’s what happened when a non-Kpop fan attended a K-pop concert

I’m not a fan of Korean pop (K-pop) music but I do like a few songs. Two, to be exact. Blackpink’s “As If It’s Your Last“ and BTS’ “Idol.” But that doesn’t mean I don’t know more Korean songs. Remember the time when all we could hear anywhere was Psy’s “Gangnam Style“ and Wonder Girls’ “Nobody But You”?

So even if I only know one song from Blackpink, I said yes when I was offered a ticket. I thought, why not? This could be a great way to understand the girl group’s hype, along with the genre in general. I know that K-pop fans can be pretty intense. We all saw how they deluged the airport when Blackpink arrived, even climbing up cars just to take a peek. And of course, my ticket was free. Who could say no to that?

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I’ve been to my fair share of concerts but I knew this one was different the moment I arrived at the Mall of Asia Arena. The first thing I noticed was that the crowd was mostly made up of kids. And by kids, I mean teenagers below 18 (I confirmed this at the end of the concert when I saw parents standing outside the Arena, presumably to pick up their children). I’m claustrophobic so I felt anxious to see so many of them outside the Arena, screaming and running around. What is going on? The next day I found out that a lot of them have been waiting in line since the afternoon. Talk about dedication.

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I went to my section as soon as I got in and was ready to wait a long time. Concerts notoriously take forever to begin, and I remember how Madonna’s performance started close to 10PM. I was surprised when Blackpink began a little past 7PM, the announced time. Maybe it’s because the fanbase is made up of teenagers? Or maybe it’s a K-pop thing?

The lights dimmed and the opening notes of “Ddu-du Ddu-du” started playing. It was in that moment when I became a Blackpink stan. There were fireworks, lights, and smoke effects the entire night. The songs were catchy and the performances were amazing. My favorites were “Forever Young,“ “Whistle,“ “Stay,” and “Kiss and Make Up.” At this point, I wasn’t surprised that the fans knew the lyrics to the songs, even if it was in Korean. You didn’t need to understand it to appreciate it.

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Another thing that stood out to me was the community that Blackpink built. During an intermission, the screen played videos of fans, called Blinks, singing or dancing along to their songs. During the second half of the concert, fans threw stuffed toys at the stage. One even made human-shaped pillows with the girls’ baby photos on them, and the members even played with it.

I get it. I get the hype. Apart from the songs being hella catchy, Blinks are seen, heard, and acknowledged. The girls were not just “phoning it in.” They were here to give a performance. And they gave a really good one.

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