KTMF star arrivals attract fans to LAX

May 2, 2014
Fans wait for KTMF stars to arrive at LAX on May 1. / Park Sang-hyuk, The Korea Times

Fans wait for KTMF stars to arrive at LAX on May 1. / Park Sang-hyuk, The Korea Times

By Tae Hong

An enthusiastic crowd of about 200 fans lined up to greet the familiar faces of K-pop stars as they arrived, armed with cellphone cameras and simple Korean phrases — “Annyeong oppa!

Nataly Villeda, 21, is a college student who said she has been a fan of B1A4 since their debut.

“I’ve been waiting for them since I came to this country,” Villeda said, hugging a copy of a booklet from the band’s latest album to her chest.

She was a part of the loud buzz at Los Angeles International Airport Thursday as a stream of singers flew in for The Korea Times’ Music Festival.

EXO-M, B1A4, 2AM, Dal Shabet, Jung Dong-ha, Ulala Session, Insooni, Yoon Bok-hee and Kim Jong-seo arrived at Tom Bradley International Terminal to dozens upon dozens of fans carrying gifts, banners and signs.

A total of thirteen teams will be performing for the festival’s 12th annual show on May 3. Held at the Hollywood Bowl, KTMF attracts a crowd of about 20,000 each year.

For some stars like the booming performance group Ulala Session, Thursday marks their first visit to L.A.

Park Kwang-sun, one of the members of the band, said the Hollywood Bowl venue has hosted some of music’s finest. He’s honored to stand on the same stage as popular singers like Bruno Mars, he said.

“I think this is a concert that will help spread Korean music and Ulala Session to everyone,” Park said.

For others, like 2AM, the City of Angels is a frequented concert location. The quartet visited L.A. for a concert just last December, and this year is the ballad kings’ first time as a part of the festival.

The group’s leader, Jo-kwon, said L.A. has been responsible for many memorable moments.

“We don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet with overseas fans, so this is really meaningful,” he said. “I hope they gain strength and good memories from watching not just us but everyone here perform.”

And for EXO-M, one of the most anticipated acts of the event, KTMF is another way to connect with fans.

Kris, the group’s leader, said he hopes fans will enjoy activities of “Overdose,” a new song from the band’s unreleased album that they have been performing in China.

“We’re always very thankful for all the love and support from fans in the states,” he said. “We’re really happy to be here and looking forward to the show.”

Another band member, Lay, said the festival marks EXO’s fourth time in the U.S.

“If there’s a disappointing thing, it’s that all 12 of us aren’t here,” Lay said, referring to sub-group EXO-K, the other half of EXO. “When there’s a chance in the future, we’ll make sure to show everyone a performance with all 12 of us.”

Meanwhile, the event comes about two weeks after the sinking of the Sewol, a tragedy that has left South Korea devastated and most major entertainment activities in postponed limbo.

Many singers, among them 2AM, B1A4 and Dal Shabet, showed their support for victims of the ferry boat disaster by wearing yellow ribbons — a sign of hope and mourning in Korea after the incident — pinned to their clothes.

“As you know, there have been a lot of sad events in Korea recently,” said Kim Jong-seo. “I hope this performance gives energy to the audience.”

Jung Dong-ha, a regular face on KBS’s “Immortal Songs 2,” said he gains strength from knowing that they have the support of overseas Koreans and fans. He said he hopes that his performance can give a bit of strength back to those who need it.

Still, performers are determined to keep the event interesting.

Kim, who usually performs solo, said he specially brought a band with him for the festival, while B1A4’s CNU said the five-member group has prepared three or four songs for the concert and that they plan on performing them according to the audience’s reaction.

“We’re very glad to be able to meet our fans in America and want to have a fun time with them,” CNU said. “I want to thank fans for waiting for us. We’ll pay you back with a fun performance, so please wait just a little longer.”