Last night my wife and I attended Korean pop megastar Rain’s concert to promote his fourth, soon-to-be-released album, "Rain’s Coming." One of my coworkers gave me two VIP tickets to Rain’s concert at Olympic Stadium in Jamsil (south Seoul). About 40,000 fans showed up to cheer the Korean pop star whose vocals and music style are one part Usher, one part Justin Timberlake, and one part Michael Jackson (yes, the King of Pop) minus the crotch grabbing. Rain is the English translation of his Korean name, "Bi" or "Pi." Rain has been making waves on both sides of the Pacific, especially after his appearance on MTV‘s Total Recall earlier this year. His image has shifted somewhat from that of a Korean entertainer to that of an international persona. My wife, who’s more up on Korean pop (K-pop) than I am, told me that Rain is planning an English language album to break into the U.S. market. Mainstream pop artists who want to make it big in the U.S. ultimately need to sing in English, although some foreign language songs do become runaway hits (e.g. "Macarena," a Spanish-language song, and "Da Da Da," a German song). "Rain’s Coming" is Rain’s prelude to hitting the U.S. music scene in full force.
I enjoyed the concert. The stage show was excellent, although I was a bit perturbed by the opening sequence depicting Rain as a military helicopter pilot shot down during a fire fight. Recalling the horror my father went through during the Vietnam War when his helicopter was shot down by enemy fire along the DMZ, I was not happy to see Rain incorporate such horror into his show. He has no idea what hell guys like my father went through when they’re shot down and have to fight for their lives on the ground in a hostile environment. (For a glimpse of what it’s like to be shot down in a helicopter over enemy territory, try watching "Blackhawk Down.") I think war is inglorious and should not be part of a concert stage show. Despite this, the show’s visual effects, particularly Rain’s transformation into an angel, were absolutely stunning. It is the most professional stage show I’ve seen since my wife and I went to Barenaked Ladies’ "Maroon" concert a few years ago. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the concert, as did the thousands of screaming fans yelling all around me. I felt like a middle-aged fuddy duddy in the middle of a crowd of Gen Y youths, and I’m not even that old! At times, I found my foot tapping to some of the music, and I had to make myself stop. I’m not supposed to like K-pop ala NSync. Fortunately, I was sitting next to another coworker in her 50’s. She is an unabashed Rain fan and loved the concert. She took some photos of the concert and will send them to me next week. When she does, I will post them on this blog. You’ll see them here first.
Perhaps the most tragic moment of the concert happened when we were assigned to new seats because the concert promoters accidentally issued two tickets for each seat in the VIP area. When the real ticket holders arrived to take their seats, we were in them. We explained that the ushers put us there, but they refused to move even after the ushers asked them to move. I felt badly taking their seats, but we had no control over the chaos down on the floor in front of the stage. If I had my druthers, I would have moved, but our group did not want to move. After about 20 minutes, the ticket holders we displaced finally gave up and moved to different seats. It took a lot of cajoling and irrational Korean dialogue to resolve the issue. I sat quietly and thanked my stars that I can’t argue well in Korean! They left me alone because I’m a foreigner.
Blog Notes: I was offline for a couple days because my computer monitor burned out last Thursday. It’s nigh impossible to use a computer when you can’t see anything! I went to the store today and bought a beautiful 19-inch Sony monitor. It’s almost too nice for the computer I’ve been using! Very easy on the eyes.
As expected, Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon was elected by the United Nations to serve as its next Secretary-General. Congratulations, Korea and Mr. Ban. Make us all proud. Also in the news today–traces of radioactivity have apparently been found in the air near the site of the alleged nuclear test in North Korea. The UN Security Council agreed on a draft of sanctions against North Korea. Hold on tight. We could be in for a bumpy ride.