KTMF unites fans and performers at the Hollywood Bowl

May 5, 2014
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The concert ended with a bang. The finale had all the performers — with the exception of EXO-M, who left early due to schedules — singing together on the stage. (The Korea Times Los Angeles)

By Tae Hong

Fireworks and an energetic lineup of K-pop stars lit up the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Saturday night as the audience and performers united under music and under hope in the wake of a Korean national tragedy.

The 12th Korea Times’ Music Festival attracted thousands to the famous outdoors venue, where a star-studded list of performers included EXO-M, B1A4, Crayon Pop, 2AM, Ulala Session, Dal Shabet, Jung Dong-ha, Kim Jong-seo, Insooni, Yoon Bok-hee, Sim Soo-bong and Tae-in.

Hanging over the festival was the sinking of the Sewol, which has left Korea mourning and at least 300 dead or missing. Thousands of yellow ribbons to emphasize hope and unity in the face of disaster were handed out to the crowd.

The show, hosted by MC Park Jae-min and Dal Shabet’s Ji-yul, ran for four and a half hours.

Most of the performers wore yellow ribbons, with some, like Ali, choosing to sing specific songs in mourning for victims of the Sewol’s sinking and in consolation of the Korean community.

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As Korean music continues to spread, more and more foreign fans crowd the audience each year.

The vocalist included a cover of Lee Mi-ja’s “Cry” in her performance. She said she wants to come back to the festival for a second time because she was impressed by the attentive audience.

2AM, who had the audience singing along to g.o.d.’s “One Candle” by the end of their act, said they appreciated the reaction and said they were sad to have been able to only sing three songs.

Insooni, a Korean R&B diva, said this year was her second time as a part of the festival. She previously performed at the Bowl in 2005.

“To see such passion from K-pop fans from all over made me think that our beautiful Korean culture has spread,” she said.

When the concert kicked off just after 6 p.m. with the singing of the Korean national anthem by Jung Dong-ha, no one was as excited and nervous as the performers themselves, especially as they experienced the stage one by one.

“We hadn’t had the chance to sing to our fans here in person, so seeing so many of them singing along gave us strength and helped us finish strong,” said Jin-young, the leader of B1A4.

The five-member group’s participation in the festival is their first-ever arrival to the U.S. They performed three of their hit songs, “What’s Happening,” “Good Night” and “Lonely,” to enthusiastic response from the audience.

“We are so happy,” he said. “We don’t know when we’ll be back. We’ll try to come back as quickly as possible, so we ask for your love and support.”

Ulala Session, who had the crowd up and dancing with a cover of the ’90s K-pop song “Cloudy Memories of You,” said the fact that their first performance in the U.S. was on the same stage where legendary artists like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix performed is an honor.

EXO-M, who performed their new song “Overdose” for the first time in America, said they wanted to show the crowd a good time. Kris, leader of the group, said he was grateful to see fans’ passion and support while on the stage.

“Our members did our best,” he said. “I really think EXO is happy.”

Dal Shabet, too, were surprised by fans while on stage. The group is not currently in the middle of promotional activities, so seeing such enthusiasm was encouraging, they said.

“We’re happy just to have been invited to the U.S. to perform at the Hollywood Bowl,” they said.

The concert ended with a bang. The finale had all the performers — with the exception of EXO-M, who left early due to schedules — singing together on the stage.

Meanwhile, dozens of vendors and booths — among them Radio Seoul, Hyundai, McDonald’s and Korean Air — kept visitors busy before the show with activities such as fortune wheels, soccer and hoops. Crowds received freebies such as cups, T-shirts and glow sticks.

As Korean music continues to spread, more and more foreign fans crowd the audience each year.

Maria Paulus, 18, has been following K-pop for five years. This year also marked her fifth time attending the festival.

She said that when she first came five years ago, she felt out of place as a foreign fan because there were a lot of Korean families. Over the years, the number of K-pop fans has visibly grown, Paulus said.

Other fans, like Callie Mahan, 21, and Madeline Wentworth, 20, showed up to the event wearing homemade fan shirts.

Mahan said Saturday was their first time at the Hollywood Bowl.

“I’m happy that they’re finally coming to the U.S.,” she said. “We’re not just sitting behind our computers and watching live streams. It’s so exciting that we’re able to drive here and see these people.”

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