Saturday's Korean Music Wave in Bangkok was no different. Rajamangkala stadium was filled to capacity by devoted K-pop fans, some of whom had begun queuing as early as 7am. To celebrate its 50th year in business, Korea's biggest TV station, MBC, decided to spread K-love in Thailand where Korean pop culture maintains a very strong fort. Korean Music Wave in Bangkok displayed the station's megawatt power through a stellar line-up featuring the biggest names in Korean music from TVXQ and 2PM to Wonder Girls and Girls Generation. The concert brought 20 boy bands and girl groups together at one venue - and the result was a massive turnout. When the overwhelmed officials manning the gates didn't operate quickly enough, and more and more screams could be heard from fans who were already inside the stadium, the wave of people started pushing more urgently against the barriers. Luckily, it didn't come to blows and no one got hurt.
Tiffany, Nichkhun and Yuri
The first (and possibly last) Thai national to achieve K-pop success, Nichkhun Horavejkul of 2PM, was rightly given an emcee spot alongside Yuri and Tiffany from Girls Generation. Needless to say, Nichkhun elicited frenzied screams every time he appeared on screen. Yes, there were big screens because without them it would've been near impossible to see any of the performers' faces. The stage was set quite far from even the front-row seats and it was extended with walkways in an attempt to reach into every corner of the area. But then the size of Rajamangkala is indeed daunting and those with the cheapest tickets probably had a hard time even watching the crystal-clear screens.
True to K-pop tradition, lip-synching, synchronised movements and outrageous concept outfits were compulsory for all performers. There isn't any point in criticising their musicality because, as far as manufactured Korean music goes, most fans got what they'd paid for. With the sole exception of SG Wannabe, all the groups relied heavily on lip-synching, although a few performed in "half-vocal" style - which didn't seem to dampen the crowd's spirits. Then again, there's a technique to this whole fake-singing charade. How well you carry it off usually depends on how much of a showman/woman you are. The experts can pull this stunt off with so much conviction and with such a high level of performance that all is forgiven. They also make up for this lack of vocalisation with their dance moves, stage presence and their natural charm. TVXQ, which is now down to two members, delivered the most convincing performance, followed closely by 2PM, After School, B2ST and Girls Generation.
Off the 20 groups present, CN Blue and FT Island have always billed themselves as "real bands" since each member can play an instrument to some extent. But that evening both groups mimed their entire set, going through a series of not-so-spot-on stage moves. It was really quite infuriating to see such sloppiness, but then again no one really gave a toss what they were playing, anyway. The most surprising disappointment was the Wonder Girls, possibly the biggest Asian girl group to emerge in the past few years. Since they've toured the US practically non-stop, and done opening slots for the Jonas Brothers, one would have expected them to tear the house down. But they looked exhausted, worn out - the freshness was simply not there - and that was why Girls Generation was able to swoop in so effortlessly and court the crowd with their cuteness.
Production costs for this event must have been quite high, for it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the graphics and high-definition screens. Not that anyone cared, though. Stadium staffers were also very strict about keeping everyone in their allocated seats, and came off as rather rude in the process. The organisational and promotional aspects of this concert were abysmal. But anything even vaguely Korean can get away with murder these days. So keep it coming until we all start throwing up kimchi and bim bim bap.
Source: Onsiri Pravattiyagul @ Bangkok Post