When I had my first trip to Korea, I also wanted to see some k-pop concert. I personally felt that as a first timer I needed some guidance and tried to look for tips online. I had seen hundreds of rock and metal concerts in my own country, but k-pop concerts are a bit different, and when you go to concert in a country where you don't know the language everything might feel a bit overwhelming. I have good news though, in past years concert organizers and k-pop companies have started to consider their foreign fans a lot and going to concerts is relatively easy! I've been going to concerts always alone, so maybe these tips can be helpful to someone who is still considering to go to their first ever k-pop concert. I went to VIXX concert recently, so I will use pictures from there as examples.
First, of course, you need to buy tickets to the concert. K-pop concert tickets come to sale usually with very short notice. It's pretty normal that tickets are sold around one week after the announcement that there will be a concert, and the concert can be held already one month after the ticketing. Few years ago it was much more difficult to buy tickets as a person who doesn't know much Korean, but nowadays almost all ticketing sites have their own English version of the site and many types of credit cards are accepted. I've bought tickets recently from Melon, Interpark and Auction, and all of them have global sites. Bying tickets in Korea is extremely competitive, so you need to be very fast to get the seat you want. Korean k-pop fans are experts at buying tickets and buy tickets in places with the fastest internet connections. To ensure your buying experience to go smoothly, you better get familiar with the ticketing site well beforehand. Many Korean websites require you to download additional applications for payment, so don't be confused of those and agree what the site asks you to do. Korean tickets go usually on sale in the evening time of Korean time. In Finland ticketing sites usually offer you the option of best available seat to make selecting wanted or contiguos seats fast and easy, but in Korea you need to click the exact seats you want, and if someone else already chose that one, just try again. Standing seats without actual seating plan are sold the same way, and the "seat" numbers are the order to enter the venue.
If you really really like some group and want to be sure to get the best opportunities to buy their concert tickets, I would recommend you to join their official fanclub. Most groups have pre-sale ticketing for fanclub members and that's when all the best tickets are gone. Joining to fanclubs happens once a year and many groups deal the registering with foreign fans on those global ticketing sites I mentioned before. So keep your eyes open and consider this option if you really love some group.
Getting Your Tickets
If you bought your ticket from a global site and you live overseas it is very likely that the ticket won't be shipped to you, but you should pick it up from the concert place the day of the concert. Ticketing booths open usually 3+ hours before the concert. To collect your tickets you need your pasport, or alien registration card, and your ticket number. Some sites say that you should print out your ticket information, but for me screenshot of my purchase with the number of the ticket shown from my phone has been enough. When you arrive to concert place you should look for a ticket box/booth where you can collect your tickets. You should line up to the place that shows the first letter of your name. Tickets with Korean surnames are usually separated from foreign letters. If you have difficulties of finding right place, there is always workers who can guide you to correct line and at least someone of them will be able to speak at least some English.
Ticket Holders For Standing Area
I never been to standing area in Korea, but I will tell how to act based on what I know and have been reading from instructions. If your ticket is for the standing area, after getting your ticket you should look for a booth where you can get a bracelet. To get in you need that bracelet and your ticket. Korean k-pop tickets are numbered, so even if you go to line up there for a whole day you will not get in first if the number in your ticket is not 1. For this past VIXX concert people needed to start to line up based on the order of their ticket numbers two hours before the concert started, but you better check the right time for lining up from the ticketing site. If you were late and the entrance has already started, you will be placed the last in line no matter what your number is. Concert places offer baggage storage if you don't want to go in with your stuff.
Buying Official Concert Goods
If you want to get some certain item, check the time when the merchandise booth will open and go early! I went once to line up for merchandises one hour before they started selling stuff and there were maybe thousands of people in line before me. Many items were sold out before my turn. Usually you can't buy concert goods without a ticket for that days concert. While lining up to buy your goods you will be handed a paper with pictures of all goods and you should mark to that paper what you want to buy and how many. The number of how many certain item one person can buy is limited and depends of the product. In that one concert when I went to buy merchandise early I didn't had got my ticket before buying goods because the ticket box opened hours later than they started selling the goods, but at least in this case it wasn't a problem. I could pay what I wanted after showing ticket confirmation from my phone, and after the ticket box opened, I could collect my goods by showing my ticket. I'm not sure if all concert organizers allow this. Some concert places have "fast lines" for certain items that sell only few items like lightsticks, so if you want only that you don't need to line up that long.
Entering the Venue
In big concert places there is usually multiple entrances based on the floor where your seat is in. So try to look for big signs with your floor's number, or the block number where your seat is. Some venues have also information signs all around to help you to find the right entrance. Doors open usually one hour before the concert starts. Many items can be forbidden to bring in, but my bag has NEVER been checked when I've entered the venue. I think that's actually a big safety risk that even the biggest events aren't checking what people bring in inside their bags... Water is okay. Your ticket should provide information of your seat (picture below). 층 is your seat, 구역 is your block, 열 is the row where your seat is, and 번 is your seat number. If you are lost, there is workers leading fans to their seats. Sit down, relax, and enjoy the concert!
- If you go to concert place early and you already got your ticket, many fansites are giving out free stuff, like stickers, if you show your ticket to them. It's easy to see where you can get something free because people will be quickly lining up infront of those persons.
- There's usually something to look for infront of the concert place, like a photo zone with huge pictures of the group, and rice wreaths or eggs from the fansites with pretty pictures.
- If you want to buy some unofficial fanstuff or something that you might need during the concert, like batteries, electric fans, or water, there's usually old people selling these around the concert place.
- Famous artists have their concerts obviously in big arenas, so it is very easy to go to those because they are usually right next to subway stations. Smaller conserts can be held, for example, in sports arenas of different universities and because the campuses are often big it might require quite a lot of walking from the closest subway station.
- Usually taking pictures during the concert is strictly forbidden. I know there is always pictures and videos going out after the concert, but please don't do it if it's not allowed. Security guys and other workers are watching for phones through the whole concert and if they see you taking pictures, they will ask your phone, delete the pictures, and might even ask you to leave the venue. And this actually happens! In almost every concert I've seen people been escorted out because of this and the workers look for phone screens like hawks.
- Most of the concerts I've attended have had some kind of fanmade project. Usually this means that there is a sign with short text waiting on your seat including instructions during which song you should hold the sign up. Do what others do and don't show the sign to the idols before supposed to.
- All concerts I've attended have had at least one encore, some more, so don't rush out when the idols say their goodbyes for the first time. The concert ends when they light up all the lights again.
- If you are lost or confused about something, ask help! If the person whom you ask doesn't speak English, she/he will probably find you a person who can!
If you are confused about something leave me a comment, and I'll be more than happy to help!