Nothing else matters once you step into the zone on the wonderful world of K-pop. I cannot emphasize this enough, but once you get in, it will be hard to go on with your life without thinking about a variety of things related to your favorite groups. In my case, I fell in love with 2ne1 and BIGBANG.
It was not an accident, but a transition I seeped into after following Sandara, whom we lovingly call as “Pambansang Krung-Krung ng Pilipinas” when she decided to go back to Korea for good. At first, I did not understand why she would choose to start again when she is at the peak of her career in the Philippines. But as they say, taking risks also bring out new opportunities, and to Sandara, it really worked out well for her.
Everything followed suit, I learned about BIGBANG (BB) and 2NE1. I still love them (so much!) to this day and I feel like “we’ve” gone through a lot of things and their songs almost always resonate what I’m going through. I grew old with them – from a typical student struggling to study while updating herself with the latest news about them to a professional who always find time to meet them whenever they visit the country.
A lot of people question my dedication to them, but their lyrics helped me through difficult times. There were days I felt myself drowning, deliberately choosing to isolate myself from the world but until now their advice and encouragement help me get through. For me, God gave them their gifts to show their skills and at the same time help other people to know that they are not alone with what they are going through.
Whether you’re a fan of BIGBANG or not, you will relate to one of my favorite lyrics lifted from “Haru Haru” song, one of the band’s greatest hits:
“Yeah, I thought I wouldn’t be able to live even one day without you
But from what was expected, I’m getting along quite well by myself
You don’t answer anything as I cry out “I miss you”
I hope for a vain expectation but now it’s useless”
Perhaps, everybody could relate to this – losing someone you care about but you cannot do anything to alter the current situation. It is that universal feeling that after one becomes absent, you suddenly become paralyze and think that you cannot get out of that situation. But in the end, you only sincerely wish for that person to be happy and if that person’s happiness does not include you, you have to learn to let go.
After totally being drawn by the songs of the two groups, I started following all their social media accounts, always anticipating their updates. It was mild at first until I found myself buying products they advertise. It started with small things, the ones I could afford with my student allowance. Then, I found myself struggling to purchase products because they even become more expensive with the delivery rates and they are shipped all the way from Korea.
There are legit fan sites who take orders but they don’t really do it all the time. Before, I was able to order at YESASIA since they have a lot of positive feedback from buyers. For me, that should be your standard before ordering. You will encounter accounts who are only there to scam you, so check more than twice if they really deliver their promises.
Right after graduation, I grabbed the opportunity to be part of fan site projects. For G-Dragon, Always-GD (a fan site) always ask help from fans for his birthday project and all the proceeds will go to Seungil Hope Foundation (where there are ALS patients). I also joined JolliDEEDay, in celebration of Sandara’s birthday together with Applers (Daragon shippers). Ultimately, I think this is the heart of one’s fandom and my favorite artists always show a good example when it comes to giving aid to other people.
Being a follower of K-pop groups does not only equal to supporting their music but as well as following their set example when it comes to helping people. A fandom has a wild beating heart when it comes to showing that the world is still a good place to live in. And so, with all of the things I mentioned, I have decided to go to Korea in December and try out the things I’ve only seen on their social media. I want to experience Korea and perhaps, get the chance to see them there (in my dreams!!!)…
One thing about planning the trip is that you have to choose what season you want to see when you go to Korea. For me and my friends, we’re really excited to experience snow, though we are highly aware it’s going to be super cold during this time, especially in January! Grab seat sales when you can but sometimes they are really not advisable unless you are super sure you can come during the available dates they have. Usually, many seat sales will open but the flying dates are 7 to 8 months away, a really risky move if you’re the kind of person who gets stuck at work or has to stay when there are unexpected issues. But really, that’s your call.
Another realization hit me like a wave after months of booking our flight straight to Incheon. My friends and I are also keen on visiting Jeju Island. My mistake is not being able to book intelligently (because, hey, all I could think about was I’m finally going to Korea). Don’t make the same wrong move. If you also plan to go to Jeju, it may be best to direct your flight there, then transfer to Seoul and from Seoul, you can go home to the Philippines or you can do the process vice versa.
Why should you do it? It honestly will help you save a huge amount of money instead of going back to the place where you first arrive.
You should also list all the places you want to visit months before your trip. This task was what I really found exhausting because there are a gazillion places I want to see and suddenly our 10-day trip feels like a short time to enjoy and drop by at all the good places. Here’s a tip: When listing the places you want to visit, you should also jot down their location and the directions on how to get there through your preferred transportation (subway or bus). After that, combine all the places which are near to each other so that you can maximize your time.
Perhaps, some of you will probably think: “How will I know if the places are near to each other? There are phone applications for this, I especially found “Subway” and “Naver Map” as a helpful tool in plotting our itinerary. It’s better to download local apps rather than using Google Maps simply because it is more accurate.
For the accommodation, again, when choosing this one, it’s all about preference. If you really want to spend cheap and you’re not really choosy about where you sleep, staying at jimjilbang might appeal to you. There are also guesthouses with private and shared rooms. My advice is, when you see a decent place where you can stay, you don’t need to spend much on this because if you have a crazy busy itinerary like us, you are barely going to stay in your room.
Lastly, join competitions online! Just recently I won a free one-day wifi card from Korea Tourism Organization. With that, I already saved 5,000 won on my trip. It will not hurt for you to try out the games in social media and most of the time the instructions are pretty easy, so why don’t you try your luck?
Written by Krew Member Jean Singian
Photos: Riality and Korea.Net via Wikimedia Commons