As any K-pop fan will tell you, the scene's stars are some of the most respectful and humble celebs in the world. Most singers go through years of training only to spend several more years repaying debts to their record label and having their income forever split between group members. It's a music scene that's more competitive and promises less success than that of the Western world.
And yet it's all the more reason why if your favorite act can make their way to getting to a place where they hold a large-scale fan meeting in their home country, you need to check it out. Fuse was on hand for AOA's first "official" meet in Seoul, titled 2015 AOA Heart Attack, at Sangmyung Art Center's cozy Gyedang Hall theater. We got to see the lovable girl group like we've never seen them before, in front of just a few hundred fans. Here's what you need to know about K-pop fan meetings and why you gotta attend one if you're in Seoul.
1. Brush Up on Your Discography
Chances are if you're a superfan, you already know all of your favorite group's songs, but you might want to revisit a few deep cuts beforehand. Attendees were greeted by B-sides from AOA's recent EPs blasting from speakers; throughout the engagement, the ladies performed intro songs and cuts like "Love Is Only You," the B-side to their debut single, which saw the girls shedding tears while performing.
2. More Casual Than Ever
K-pop fans know their favorite stars to be very formal and conservative during interviews and broadcasts. It's to put out their best image and not rack up any haters in Korea's notoriously harsh internet-commenter culture. But when you're surrounded by a few hundred of your biggest supporters, you're bound to let loose a little more. AOA's fan meeting opened with a laid-back chat session where the girls got to candidly speak about the past couple years together, individual activities and their interests. It was refreshing to watch the ladies look so happy and relaxed onstage as they knew the normal pressures they faced weren't as high.
3. Rare Goods
As a treat to both the attendees and the artist, you'll have the chance to pick up some rare fan memorabilia for these kinds of events. This particular meeting had some awesome items including paper stand-up placards of each individual member and an AOA-branded towel.
4. Your Messages Will Be Seen
Before entering the meeting, AOA fans could write a personal message to the girls on a Post-it note that was stuck onto a white board and brought in for the group (see below). While many fans write personal notes and give gifts to their idols at events, it's possible lots of these get lost in the hustle and bustle of a live performance or other big event. The girls were at Gyedang Hall for one reason and one reason only: To interact with fans! It's a sure bet they got any message you sent them.
5. Be Ready to Really Scream
Your typical hollers at concerts won't cut it at a fan meeting. Remember, these are the super-est of the superfans, so you better be shrieking to support your beloved act. Or risk being drowned out by bigger supporters.
6. You'll Need to Rely on Your Memories
Perhaps because the acts will be so casual, you likely will not be allowed to take photos or video while you're in attendance at a K-pop fan meeting in Korea (we tried...and almost got kicked out).
But don't fret: Won't the extra attention you put on the group (and not on your smartphone/Twitter/Instagram account) make it that much more memorable? Plus, most likely the act's staff or record label will have shot a few pictures including a big, group shot.
7. Can't Make It? You Can Still Show Your Love
If you can't do it in person, a common way of sending someone a congratulations in Asia is sending them a decorated reef of flowers. AOA fans who may have not been able to attend the meeting sent these gorgeous flowers over with super-sweet messages on the ribbons like "AOA Forever." These were on display as attendees walked, showing that the fandom was connected even if they weren't all in attendance.