AS the second most populated metropolitan area of Korea and the country’s busiest port (among the Top 10 busiest in the world), Busan has been crowned by many travelers as the ‘Cebu of Korea’, delightfully marrying modern city with the quintessential allure of a provincial area.
Home to iconic landmarks, numerous shopping centers, various beaches, extravagant temples, and charming folk villages--it is difficult not to find something to explore in Busan every day.
One of the biggest festivals the province holds--which is their version of a Sinulog-sized event--boasts of a flashing spectrum of colorful lights, a 360-degree stage, and Korea’s rising K-Pop idols performing their top hits in a non-stop music festival extravaganza. If you’re looking to tour Busan and are hungry for a music festival experience with a unique and eclectic cultural twist, you might want to book a ticket in October, in time for this year’s Busan One Asia Festival (BOF). Considered one of the greatest pop-music concerts in Asia, it is a week-long celebration, involving a series of concerts attended by fans flying in from all over the world in the hopes of catching a set of their favorite up and coming Korean artists in various genres of music.
Through the efficient and accommodating coordination of Cebu Direct Club Travel and Tour’s Lyan Park and the Busan Tourism Organization, a comfortable yet affordable flight with Jin Air took a group of five—including a writer (Tiffany Neri), photographer (Ted Madamba), vlogger (Leo Jeong of Annyeonghassaleo), another guest (Marylou Neri), and guide (Kyle Lee of Cebu Direct Club Travel and Tour)—to Busan to witness the 2017 BOF grand opening dubbed “Make It Real BOFLand”.
In a massive dome-like stadium packed with a raving crowd of fans, Busan’s October air was cool and crisp enough not to let the enormous number of people affect the venue’s temperature. Prior to the show, LED screens displayed “red carpet” interviews of the K-Pop artists broadcasted live for those who were waiting. Each time one of the artists would make hand signs (such as the finger heart and peace signs), the crowd went crazy—with some holding up their handmade posters while jumping and screaming the names of their idols.
The whole show was built around the theme of a fantasy land and was literally on fire—with sparklers, fireworks, and actual flames bursting up from the stage. Paired up with the dazzling LED lights, the spectacle lit up the stadium with a mesmerizing light show.
In the lineup were K-Pop groups like Nu’Est W, Gfriend, NCT 127, USW, B.A.P., APink, Momoland, GOT7, SF9, Astro, BlackPink, and what was seemingly the crowd’s favorite, Wanna One. The groups sang and danced along to the track of their best songs, leaving the crowd mesmerized with their synchronized movements and powerful voices that made the show nothing short of playful, energetic, and magical.
The BOF 2017 Opening Concert had an amazing stage and repertoire of artists that lived up to its promise of: “The fantastical world of K-pop where every dream becomes a reality, and only the best K-wave artists will perform on stage.”
5 hacks to up your BOF game like a local
- Line up early. Hundreds of K-Pop fans attend the concert, so the lines can get really crazy. If you want to make sure you catch the sets of your favorite artists, be safe and line up early.
- Gear up with warm clothes. October nights in Busan can get quite chilly in an outdoor stadium-especially if your body is used to tropical weather. Some stalls even sold blankets right outside the stadium! Save some cash and wear your coziest jacket.
- Charge up your phone and bring a power bank. This is for those times you might want to take pictures and videos--and you definitely will.
- Power up with some snacks and water or eat a heavy meal ahead. Last year, they did not sell food inside the venue--you’ll have to walk out of the stadium to find the food stalls. The concert stretches on from before dinner to a little after.
- Brush up on K-pop artists and their repertoire in the lineup. Trust me, you’ll regret not knowing their songs while everyone else is having a blast singing and dancing along.
For a peek of what might be in store this year, watch a video of BOF 2017 here: bit.ly/2o0t9xO
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on February 15, 2018.
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