Prague is a place you should definitely not skip if you are travelling around Europe. This beautiful capital of Czech Republic lures tourists and artists from all over the world. Even some K-Pop idols already visited this Hundred-spired city. Just to mention a few of them: DBSK shot their “Prince in Prague” photobook and “O” MV here, Lee Minho was chased by a dog in the Prague streets for one commercial, Eunhyuk spent holidays there and we better not forget Kris who was shooting his newest Chinese movie in Prague just a few weeks back. Yet, despite the popularity Prague has in Korea, Czech fans are still waiting for their first K-Pop concert. To make the wait more bearable, meeting with new K-Pop fans spreading the love of Korean pop, one lovely K-Pop event is held every summer in Prague. This year was the 4th year for Czech Hallyu Wave weekend to take place and fans from Czech and Slovakia once again had something to look forward to!
The event started during a hot morning on August 9th in a high school near the Old Town Square. Who would want to go to school during holidays, you may ask? That is a very good question. The answer is, however, pretty easy: K-Pop fans! Just getting to choose from a variety of lectures about K-Pop stars, Korean culture and Korean language.
Who would mind sitting in the classroom while listening to his or her favorite songs, watching MVs on the big while board in front of them or joining the heated discussion about the hottest news from K-Pop world? Do you want to see some albums or merchandise you might never get the chance to buy again? Don´t hesitate and step to the front of the class where people giving the lectures displayed their treasures for others to see, to spazz over and to flip through. Most of the lecturers gave out cards, wristbands or posters at the end of their lectures when you answer their questions correctly. If you are tired from running from class A to see Super Junior, to class B to hear something new about BIGBANG and back to class A for VIXX presentation and then to class C to try learning hangul, just go back to the basement where you can get a yummy snack. No need to hurry even though most of the classes you want to attend take place during the same time. No one ever catches everything and you know that your new friends will tell you everything you missed in the evening when fans usually go out to eat something together.
After the first day of “school”, the second day comes with a different “Topic of the day”. Instead of sitting in the classrooms all day long, it is time to dance! This year´s flashmob didn´t take place on St. Wenceslas Square but in Riegerovy sady. This little change confused a lot of people and maybe that was the reason why only around 20 people danced. Still, they smiled all the time, enjoying the rhythms of the songs that were previously picked by fans to be a part of the flashmob. The tutorials made by fans to show how to make the right moves were uploaded on the internet a long time before this fateful day but here and there, people clumsily stepped forward instead of backwards, turned right not left. Laughing their mistakes away they continued dancing until the very end to earn a round of applause from their friends. And what we could hear in the mix? APink´s No No No, B.A.P´s Badman, Crayon Pop´s Bar Bar Bar and PSY´s Gentleman.
In the afternoon of the second day, a K-Pop contest is held. This contest is sponsored by the Korean Embassy and you might have already heard about it under the official name “K-Pop World Festival”. Selected K-Pop fans (after going through preliminary rounds and voting) are invited to South Korea to dance or sing in the final round that takes place in Changwon. To prove the passion of Czech fans, it is worth mentioning that Czech girl group O.M.G. won grand prize in the field of performance in 2012 and in 2013 Czech girl group Six of a Kind won second place in the same category. After such a great results, the contestants this year were more stressed and pressured to show the best of them. Even the jury, consisting of dancer and singer Lee Jay Hyun, dance teacher, musicians, reporter and a chief conductor of the Czech chamber Philharmonic, had a very hard time. Choosing only one winner in the performance category and one winner in the vocal category was harder than never before. The announcement of the winner in singing took the crowd of people by surprise. As soon as Viktorie Duková sung the first verse of an OST song for a drama (which name was sadly not heard in the hall thanks to very weird microphones), everyone knew who the winner is. Her voice perfectly carried the message of the song and she hit all the notes perfectly. Still, something strange was in the air and the jury picked a girl trio RG H.I.V. for the first place. The battle for the first place in performance was very fierce as most of the groups danced the latest hits such as F(x)´s Red Light or EXO´s Overdose (even with the starting pose, that was indeed something!). Winner of the performance category lifted the fans from their seats in one shared scream of excitement. Girl group Effe(x)tion was a fine winner as these five girls already has many fans in Czech.
Do you think the event ended just like that? By trying to snap a photo of the winners through many balloons falling down on the audience, making it almost impossible to take a “worth-it” pic? No way! After such a great weekend, a party is always on the list! Quickly change into new clothes and then head to the Yes Club located just a few steps from the city center. Once there, you can tell that K-Pop is not an unknown name in Czech. People danced, enjoyed the loud music and even tried their luck in the karaoke to win vouchers to a Prague tea house.
With the long party ending in early morning hours, the event slowly disappeared as if it never happened. But there were two things that still made Czech fans excited – memories and the thought that next year they are going to experiences it all once again! Attending K-Pop classes, doing flashmob in the open air, cheering for their favorites cover singers/dancer during K-contest and then dancing the night off in a club… No wonder fans are always so excited about the whole weekend, right? In just two days they can meet new friends who like the same genre, feel the Korean culture a bit and do not fear to say out loud who their oppa is. No one is fighting, no one is arguing, everyone is trying their best to enjoy the weekend fully. Because this is the biggest K-Pop thing Czech fans have. For some people, Czech is just a small country known for delicious beer and a mesmerizing capital city; but for others it is the only place where they can meet with other K-Pop fans and feel they are not alone in their obsession.
Written by guest writer, Terry ALSiong