The scene in the Mall of Asia Arena last Thursday was a common sight before a concert—fans swarming inside after showing their tickets to security before gathering in groups to meet their friends, others distributing banners and lightsticks, and other fan merchandise.
Suddenly, there were shouts of “One Dream! One Korea!” I looked around and saw a group of people posing for a photo. They were all wearing white T-shirts with the words “One Korea”; others are holding blue banners with the words “I support One Korea.”
This is not just your typical K-Pop concert, I realized.
This realization rung true at the start of the One K Global Peace Concert. Instead of an average opening number to introduce the artists, we were shown an AVP on the Global Peace Foundation’s efforts for Korean Unification and global peace. Delegates from different nationalities then went onstage holding white balloons, while everyone in the audience says in unison, “One Dream. One Korea. One World.”
This is not just a concert; it’s a movement to unite not just Korea, but also the world. “K-Pop for world peace” may sound cliché, maybe even ridiculous, but as the concert went on, I began to understand why.
BAP opened the show, delivering powerful performances to get the crowd hyped up. Despite the absence of their leader Yongguk, the five performed the songs “Skydive,” “One Shot,” and “No Mercy” with powerful vocals and rap. B1A4 sustained the energy of the crowd with their fun songs “Beautiful Target,” “What’s Happening?,” and “Baby Goodnight.” The members also made sure to cover all sides of the stage to acknowledge the love of their fans; they even did aegyo during their talk portion.
The first half of the concert ended with a special stage. Korean dramas have found a way back into Filipinos’ hearts in the recent years, and the artists performed theme songs to famous Korean dramas to bring the crowd back to the kilig onscreen moments. AOA’s Choa sang “You Are My Everything” (Descendants of the Sun), B1A4’s Sandeul sang “Swallowing My Heart” (Love in the Moonlight), and BAP’s Daehyun and Youngjae sang “Almost Paradise” (Boys Over Flowers).
This is not just your typical K-Pop concert…it’s a movement to unite not just Korea, but also the world.
AOA delivered sultry performances to “Excuse Me” and “Miniskirt,” then a heart-pumping number to “Heart Attack.” The girls then proceeded to win the hearts of the audience by doing cute and sexy poses. BTOB performed their latest song Pray (I’ll Be Your Man), then two of their hit songs Beep Beep and WOW. Sungjae surprised everyone by saying, “Magkita ta ugma!”, a Visayan phrase which meant “Let’s see each other tomorrow.” CNBLUE ended the second half of the concert with performances of “Can’t Stop,” “Cinderella,” and “You’re So Fine.” Leader Yonghwa sent fans swooning with fan service and cheesy lines such as “Manila, you’re so sweet like vanilla.”
The next special stage was the surprise of the night, when BTOB’s Eunkwang and Hyunsik did a rendition of “Anak” by Freddie Aguilar, with Cesar Montano in the guitar. Their amazing vocals and their on-point pronunciation of the Filipino language left fans impressed. AOA’s Yuna closed the special stage with a performance of “I Believe” from the My Sassy Girl OST.
With two more performers left, the anticipation among the crowd grew. And no surprises, loud screams echoed all over the arena as SHINee emerged onstage. Fans held out their banners: “SHINee, you are worth the wait.” SHINee had been in the Philippines in 2009 and 2013, but this was the first time they were complete as five, and the fans wasted no time showing their love to the finally-complete group. Their efforts were not wasted, as the group performed “View,” “An Encore,” “1 of 1,” and “Everybody.”
And finally, we have PSY, perhaps the best epitome of the global reach of K-Pop. The audience sang and danced along to his recent hits “Napal Baji,” “Gentleman,” and “Daddy,” then turned emotional during PSY’s heartwarming performance of “Father.” Capping off the concert was, unsurprisingly, the hit “Gangnam Style,” and the crowd showed that despite the lateness of the evening, it’s never too late to sing and dance along to the iconic song.
Three hours seems to have passed so quickly in the concert, as there was never a dull moment. Perhaps, the audience appeared to have contributed to it, too. Whether they are a fan of BAP, B1A4, AOA, BTOB, CNBLUE, SHINee, or PSY, everyone cheered and sang along with the artists, matching their energy with the beat of the songs. PSY himself was impressed with how the audience cheered and supported everyone in the line-up. “I’d like to thank you for your support not just for me, but also for all K-Pop artists,” he told the crowd.
And suddenly, “K-Pop for world peace” seemed to be clearer. K-Pop transcends boundaries; it brings together people, no matter where they are, how old they are, what language they speak, or what they prefer. It’s precisely this unity that the campaign is advocating for, this unity through music.
As the artists gathered on stage one more time for their final number, I hoped that one day, we’d be able to see this scene of unity, for Korea and the world.
Written by Bea Mandac / Photos by Elaine Lim