Saturday, June 1, 2013

An account regarding the chaos among fans at exo’s comeback stage

Note: I reposted this from 
http://heartmindand5eoul.tumblr.com/post/51795876796/an-account-regarding-the-chaos-among-fans-at-exos

before anything else, i would encourage you to take the following account as OPINION ONLY rather than strict fact. you may have heard something different from other fans who were there, and it may conflict with my own observations. i am only recording what i personally experienced. please keep an open mind.

the following content is about the chaos that SM staff created at exo’s comeback stage yesterday (130530). in case you didn’t hear about what happened, basically SM staff caused a stampede that led to the injury of many fans, and one of their staff members made a rude remark regarding foriegn fans.
first off, yes, i am the girl mentioned in this post. i tweeted about the events as they were occurring. i have received an overwhelming amount of replies regarding the content of my tweets, and as such i’ve decided to make this post to clear up possible misunderstandings.
let me give you some background information:
for music show recordings, fans are usually picked on a first-come first-served basis. usually, this is decided by a 명단, or a name list. sometimes there is a person there taking names in order of arrival, other times there is a sheet of paper posted with a number on it that you have to send a reservation to via SMS. i’ve been going to music shows here in korea for the past 1-2 months (mostly for shinee) and this is always how the lineups have worked, no exceptions.
HOWEVER, SM stated that there would be no such 명단 for exo’s stages. also, i didn’t read this directly, but i heard that SM would not accept fans lining up overnight. when i heard this i was really puzzled, because there was always a lineup, there was always a roll call, why would exo’s stages be any different?
the day before, around noon, i heard that fans were already lining up at mnet. since i really wanted to be a part of exo’s comeback, i headed over there at 2pm, and i was the 23rd person in line. as hours passed, the line grew bigger and bigger, reaching probably around 300~400 fans as the night went on. everything was organized really well; the fans at the front of the line did check-ups now and then to make sure everyone knew their place in line. it progressed just like any normal music show lineup.
SM staff were expected to arrive around 8 am that morning. we were thinking they would just give us numbers based on the line we had already made, which by then had grown to approximately 500 fans. it was an impressive sight, and i was really happy that so many fans had showed up to support exo.
when the staff showed up, everyone was really confused because they did not walk over to the place where our line was. instead they shouted for exo fans to come to them, and while some fans headed that direction, many of us just stayed our place in line, feeling extremely confused.we had made a line, why were SM staff telling everyone to leave it? we knew they had said that they wouldn’t accept any previously-made lists or lines, but there were so many fans present that we thought they would have no choice but to acknowledge our line.
we thought wrong.
more and more fans began inching in the staffs’ direction, and a few seconds later the whole crowd of us were sprinting to them. we collided to a stop in front of them and we were all squished together, elbowing and shoving for a good position. there was a lot of screaming.
the staff were standing on a bench, and yelled for us to organize ourselves into two lines. i thought they must have been insane. everyone kept pushing and shoving, and it was just chaos. many girls were hit and/or stepped on. i was shoved into a bush and a lot of fans fell on top of me. the staff kept screaming for us to organize ourselves, or no one would get into the recording. no one listened; we were all trying to get the best spot (especially those of us who had waited all night). more pushing and shoving, it was suffocating.
the staff screamed at us, told us to move to the back of the line. a few girls left but most of us stood our ground, screaming back at the staff and arguing with them. we had made a line, we told them. why can’t we reform that line? but they replied that it wasn’t an “official” line (i.e. line created by SM staff) so they couldn’t acknowledge it. a lot of girls around me shouted “그게 말이 ?!” (does that make sense?) but the staff wouldn’t budge in their position. 
i watched as one fan fainted. girls carried her from the mob and tried to get her to wake up. a lot of us were crying, me included.
i stepped out of the mob eventually, deciding it was best to give up. the staff kept shouting the same things, to organize into two lines, to go to the back. at one point, mnet staff came out to help control the crowd. girls kept arguing with the staff, saying it was best if we could just organize ourselves back into our previous line, that we all knew our places. the SM staff replied something along the lines of “we can do anything but that.” 
at this point i was just beyond disgusted. fans were screaming “사람이 다쳤잖아!!!” (a person was hurt!!!) in reply to the staff who was insisting she wouldn’t let us reorganize back into our previous line because it wasn’t official. the staff just wouldn’t listen to our pleas.
i was planning on trying to assimilate back into the crowd, when i heard one staff member shout “특히 외국인들! 빠져!” (especially foreigners! get out!) and i felt like someone had stabbed me right through the chest. i couldn’t believe what i had just heard. a lot of korean fans repeated the same thing after her, and i felt a lot of eyes on me (i’m caucasian btw) and i hesitantly stepped away from the crowd again. one staff member began leading a group of fans away to the back of the line, and i watched as one korean fan stepped from that line and shouted “hey, isn’t this a foreigner line?!” and as i observed the line, i realized it was mostly made up of chinese and japanese fans.
by then, a semi-line had finally begun to be formed. i just stood by the side and watched as staff members began giving girls numbers. however, i also watched as they picked random fans from this line and sent them to the back. they handled one korean fan particularly roughly because she didn’t want to move. also, a group of japanese fans who were in line were told they couldn’t enter the recording and were sent away. many foreigners had left the line, standing to the side and just being utterly shocked and confused.
despite this, i did see some foreigners being let past the SM staff. my friend was able to get in, along with a few others. also, staff weren’t just pulling foreigners from the line, they were pulling korean fans away too.
two of these korean fans walked over to me and one girl immediately pulled me into a hug, telling me “울지마, 울지마” (don’t cry, don’t cry). she handed me her water bottle and told me (i don’t remember the exact korean) “you’re so pretty, a girl like you shouldn’t be crying.” she wiped my tears with her hand and brushed back my hair and said “we’re all hurt, it’s going to be okay. did someone hit you? who hit you?” i couldn’t really say anything so i just shook my head. she continued to tell me that she had lost her wallet in the stampede, and i felt really bad for her. 
(i included the above paragraph because i wanted to show that even though many korean fans that day shouted for foreigners to go away, there were also wonderfully kind korean fans and i don’t want anyone to think bad of korean fandom as a whole just because of this incident.)
there were a lot of fans sitting around me crying, feeling wronged because they had been waiting for so long only to be shoved aside and even physically injured. it was supposed to be a happy day; it hurt so much to see the sad desperate faces of so many fans. you think i’m exaggerating, but i swear it felt like the aftermath of a war.
eventually all the fans were organized, and i just sat to the side the entire time because i was too overwhelmed to join the line again. only around 50~70% of the line was let into the recording because there were just too many fans. i felt so wronged as i saw that many of the girls who had been in the very front of the line with me were girls who couldn’t get into the recording.
later in the day, a fanmeet was organized for the sake of the fans who couldn’t get into the recording. i attended this fanmeet (more like i snuck in; i wasn’t in the line earlier so i didn’t receive a number and wasn’t technically supposed to be there, but somehow i made it past the staff) and it was pretty short, maybe around 5 minutes. 
i was happy just to be able to see the boys i had waited all night to see, but it didn’t make me forgive SM staff for what had happened. yes, they had told us that they wouldn’t acknowledge previously-made lines and/or lists. but most of us regarded this as bullshit because everyone (and i mean e v e r y o n e, every company and every group) always makes lists for recordings, how else were we going to organize ourselves?? for them to just insist on creating chaos instead of following our carefully organized line was just mind-blowing to me. fans were injured. 
also, about the staff who shouted for foreigners to get out: this was just one staff member, so the fault lies on that staff member alone and not SM staff as a whole. i’m not trying to excuse what she did, because i was very offended by it, but i think she probably screamed that because she assumed foreigners couldn’t understand the korean instructions she was shouting. and as i mentioned before, not all foreigners were pulled from the crowd and not just foreigners were pulled from the crowd. a similar amount of korean and foreign fans were treated roughly that day, it wasn’t just foreigners. i think this was one point that i didn’t make clear enough with my tweets. ALL fans, regardless of race, were wronged yesterday.
if SM continues to handle exo promotions this way, fans are going to continue to be hurt. my friend told me that at music bank today a similar crowd scene happened; she was pushed into a pole, and many fans fell and were stepped on. i am completely disgusted with the staff handling these promotions. i attended nearly all of shinee’s music shows for the past 1-2 months and the SM staff who handled those events always ALWAYS organized us via a previously-made list, not this utter chaos the exo staff are creating. i don’t even have words for how incredulous and disappointed i am that SM staff are handling fans this way. i’m afraid to go to exo promotions now because i don’t want to get hurt again.
i apologize for making this post so long, but i just want to make sure i got in everything i wanted to say. i hope i cleared up any misunderstandings regarding the remark against foreigners. if anything, i want the people reading this to know that the main thing i’m angry about is the stampede, not the discriminatory remark. seeing fellow fans getting injured is something i never want to see again; it’s too heartbreaking.
also! many people told me that it wasn’t SM staff who did this, it was mnet staff. i hope you’ll trust me when i say that i know it was SM staff. they had tags hanging from their necks that said “official smtown supporter.” i’ve dealt with quite a few SM staff for the past couple months and they all wear this card. i also recognized one of the staff from shinee promotions.
if you don’t trust my judgement or believe any of my account, i don’t care. that’s up to you.

Email me at sangchusan(at)gmail.com

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