Lim Shee-ann was all alone in her bedroom with the lights off and air-conditioner on. The moment her laptop screen was lit up with the handsome faces from K-pop boyband NCT Dream, she screamed in joy and waved her neon glow stick in the air.
For the next two hours, the Singaporean teen was fully immersed in the virtual concert experience, singing along to every song blaring from her speakers. The 18-year-old was also hoping to be chosen as one of the three lucky fans who could pose questions to the idols.
“I was a little disappointed [that I wasn’t chosen], but I didn’t have high hopes because the chance was slim. I’m just happy that I got to watch them during the livestream,” she says.
Shee-ann was meant to attend NCT Dream’s concert in Singapore on February 15 with her friends. She paid $268 for her ticket and has gotten a refund from the concert organiser.
“I was bummed when the concert was cancelled due to Covid-19, so I was actually really happy when they [NCT Dream] announced that they were going to hold an online concert,” she says.
The livestream concert on 10 May cost much less at $44.98 per ticket. But diehard fans like Shee-ann would still prefer to meet their idols in the flesh when social distancing is no longer enforced.
“I would much rather pay more money to see my idols in real life than watch them online because it’s every fan’s dream,” says Shee-ann. “The experience would be a lot more exciting.”
More than music
K-pop has a massive following in Singapore. In 2019 alone, 42 K-pop concerts were held here. The Hallyu Pop Fest also attracted huge crowds in the past two years.
But with the Covid-19 pandemic still raging across the globe, major concert promoters such as Live Nation have had to cancel concerts for the next 6 to 18 months.
Many K-pop groups have since moved their concerts and other appearances online to keep fans engaged.
“They released so much content with us in mind and it makes me feel really loved and even more connected with them,” says Ms Tan Li En, a 19-year-old fan of the Korean boyband BTS.
Just two weeks ago, Li En attended BTS’ first livestream concert, Bang Bang Con, which attracted a whopping 750,000 viewers.
Having attended both BTS’ 2019 “Love Yourself” concert in Singapore and the recent online concert, Li En says she still prefers the former as she found it more exhilarating.
“The surreality of being at a concert, hearing my favourite songs live, hearing the cheers of fellow fans; these are the things you can’t feel from an online concert,” she says.
Coping with disappointment
Another fan who looks forward to attending real concerts again is Amira Arsat, a 19-year-old fan of Korean boyband GOT7.
She managed to get a ticket to GOT7’s concert in Singapore this year, but One Production SG has announced that the event would be postponed indefinitely.
While she knows the postponement is necessary, she’s still very disappointed.
“They were the first idol group that I [supported], and their music has helped me through tough times,” she adds.
In the meantime, Amira has to find comfort in watching GOT7’s past concert footage and reality shows. But she’s certain that she wants to meet her idols in person.
Edited by: Coen Sim
Proofread by: Christel Yan