By Urisara Kowitdamrong
Bangkok fans of the South Korean girl group are treated to laughs, linguistic flourishes and plenty of love
UNWAVERING SMILES, beautiful choreography and the liveliest tunes imaginable made last Saturday’s fan meeting with South Korean girl group Apink a two-hour delight for their fans in Bangkok.
The “pink pandas”, as the group’s fans are known, came away with truly magical memories following the packed show at Central Chaengwattana. It was Apink’s first “fan meeting” in Thailand, though they participated in a K-pop festival here in 2013.
With thousands of pink pandas on hand for the event, excitement filled the air long before the hall doors opened. Most of the fans wore pink clothes and many also had messages painted on their faces, while several sported Apink headbands.
The screams were deafening when the proceedings opened at 4pm with a brief video on the band’s members – Park Cho-rong, Yoon Bo-mi, Jung Eun-ji, Son Na-eun, Kim Nam-joo and Oh Ha-young – and only got louder when the “angels” themselves appeared onstage in a swirl of pink flashlight beams and sang “No No No” and “Mr Chu”.
Emcee Charoen “Jmix” Sae-Choo then interviewed the girls, inevitably cementing their bond to the fans. While the stars spoke mainly in Korean, relying on an interpreter, they did earn loud cheers when using a few Thai phrases, such as “Sawasdee kha”.
Park thanked the pink pandas for waiting two years for the group to return to Thailand. “We might have been physically apart, but we’ve always been close at heart,” she said. “And we guarantee that today will be fun!”
Jmix asked the girls what they would wish for if a magical genie offered to grant them one request, and the answers were candid and amusing. An automatic facial-and-hair-cleansing machine was one of the angels’ wishes. Another yearned for the power of teleportation, another simply for continued good health.
But Jung had the system worked out: “I’d wish for the genie to fulfil a new wish every day!” Turning more serious, though, she said, “And today, my wish is that everyone here is happy.”
The girls then played three games with the fans. In “Hula Hoop Paradise”, six fans chosen in lucky draws each paired up with an Apink member and together competed with the other teams to see who could keep the hoop spinning longest. Kim unfortunately seemed to be the least talented here, but she proved to be quite adept at the next game.
The angels were divided into two groups, each including two fans. The first member started drawing a version of a picture she was shown and then the rest had to complete the sketch without having seen the original picture. The fifth member of each group had to decide what the drawing represented. Yoon thought a depiction of a tuk-tuk was a motorcycle, but Kim was able to correctly guess that her group’s sketch showed a bowl of tom yum kung.
While the first two games generated plenty of laughs, the third – “Finding Panda” – took the excitement level to new heights because Jung and Oh had to search around the hall for the audience member who best matched a given description, such as “short, dyed hair and white sneakers”. The fans plucked from their seats not only got to rub shoulders with their idols onstage but also received gifts.
Apink next performed “LUV” and 19April”, and then got a surprise of their own from their fans. They turned to watch the big screen at the back of the stage showing a video about how much the Thai fans love them, only to turn around again to find their devoted admirers in the audience holding up banners with messages like “I am here for our girls” and “Happy 23rd birthday, Bo-mi & Eun-ji”. Yoon (Bo-mi) burst into tears and Jung (Eun-ji) laughed out loud at this unexpected moment of joy.
Finally it was Apink’s turn to share their feelings for the Thai pink pandas. “Love letters” they’d written appeared on the big screens in Korean with Thai translations. As a bonus, the angels performed “A Wonderful Love”, “Attracted to U” and “Remember” from their new album “Pink Memory”.
The girls waved their good-byes and the pink pandas headed home with happy hearts and hopes for a full-scale Apink concert in Thailand soon. Thanks to the success of the fan meeting, they probably won’t need a genie to make that wish come true.