After a morning spent doing prep for school, I meet M at E-mart at 3:30 – the first of our meeting points before heading to Jeonju for a Korean singer’s concert. We then pick up Catfish and head to the meeting point for the fourth person – another American – before finally leaving Gunsan at 16:30. Unfortunately, there are major roadworks happening on the highway to Jeonju which, although amusing to watch cars reversing and driving the wrong way down onramps, means we only get to Jeonju at 17:20. Since the concert starts at 19:00, we’re hoping to have a quick dinner at T.G.I. Friday’s before finally heading to the concert venue.
Although we manage to get to Jeonju’s Sori Arts Centre by 18:55, it’s after 19:00 by the time we finally find the correct door to get to our seats and the concert has clearly begun. I’m still a little bit hesitant about this concert because we’ve only ever heard one of Psy’s songs, which I didn’t particularly like. After three or four infectious songs, however, it’s hard not to join the jovial mood of the rest of the crowd as Psy performs an amazing jazz number that could easily have been part of some big Broadway musical or even straight from the 1920s itself.
Over the next two hours, Psy performs a variety of hip hop and pop numbers including hilarious impersonations of hit songs by the Wonder Girls, Girls’ Generation, Burlesque and Beyonce’s Single Ladies – all with complete costumes! Catfish and I are in agreement that Psy could very easily have done a full show of impersonations and we would have happily paid 60,000 won for the tickets. He’s an extremely gifted performer and one who, incredibly, can keep the audience entertained for a considerable length of time complete with serious costume changes, impressive props and sets.
We anticipate the concert ending by 21:30. When Psy returns to the stage for his encore, we can’t even begin to predict the 90 minute encore that’s about to follow. Psy looks exhausted – and pretty drunk. His ‘water’ bottle actually contains soju and he downs it on stage between songs. When his lengthy encore finally ends, the venue clears out within minutes – something I’ve never seen happen before. We dawdle and take our time because, from a foreign perspective, we’re anticipating long queues of cars leaving the parking lot; surprisingly, we’re one of the last cars in the parking lot and the venue is almost deserted as we happily settle in for the drive back to Gunsan.