K-pop mania is alive and well in the UAE. As part of the recently concluded Korea Expo & Brand Content 2019 event at Dubai World Trade Centre, fans were treated to a special free K-pop concert on Thursday, October 17.
The gig was hosted by comedian Wonho Chung and featured K-pop boy bands Seventeen and SF9, as well as Punch, Beatpella and Hiss & Yella. There was also a special appearance by Korean actress Ha Ji Won.
For some fans, it was their first K-pop concert experience. Seemal Ahmed, 20, travelled from Al Ain for the gig. Although BTS is her favourite band, she was excited to even get a chance to see a K-pop performance up-close in the UAE.
"I'm going to see [Seventeen and SF9] on the stage for the first time and I have really high expectations," she told The National ahead of the event. "I hope we have a great night tonight."
They certainly did, as the two-and-a-half-hour concert saw all the acts perform mini sets of their top hits. The event concluded with 13-member boy band Seventeen taking to the stage to perform three songs. That is when all the Carats – the name given to fans of the group – in the crowd went wild.
Super-fan Judy Abayas, 20, from Sharjah, said she enjoyed the experience, despite its short length. “It didn’t feel like a concert, it felt like a room where all of us were together having fun," she said. "My favourite part was when all the Carats were coming together and celebrating Seventeen and singing with them. Even though we’re so far away and we’re not in Korea, the connection we had with them was amazing.”
The Korea Brand and Content Expo is the largest-scale comprehensive Hallyu (Korean Wave) exposition held overseas. It has taken place around the world in cities such as Moscow, Shanghai, Bangkok, Sao Paulo and London. The three-day Dubai event concluded on Friday, October 18.
For those looking for an extra dose of Korean culture in the UAE, there is still plenty of time to visit the ongoing Korea Festival 2019, which is taking place in Abu Dhabi until Saturday, November 9.