Sunday, February 05, 2012

Assigned Standing

The train was early. Nine-in-the-morning early, but I got up and got on it. I spent the rest of the day working on the train or working in a coffee shop in Seoul. Around three I decided I’d head over to the area and see if I could find a place to stay for the night, finish work, and get some dinner.

I got around to the area for the concert hall by telling the taxi driver the subway stop. I won’t take the subway in Seoul. I’m spoiled, and frankly, I don’t mind paying a little bit more not to ride the subway with 10,000,000 Koreans. As we approached my destination I noticed a motel across the street and a large funny-looking building that I was pretty sure was the location of the show.


I walked out, got a room at the hotel, finished working, and around six decided it was time to deal with the ticket issue and get food. The ticket issue came first. Bundled up in a scarf and coat I hit Ax Hall. It was early enough, but there some Korean girls there at the ticket booth. A few signs for the band let me know that I was in the right place. I walked up and started my tale of woe. I woed.

“You see,” I showed them my KTX ticket, “I came from Daegu. I got here at 9 a.m., but the train was very crowded. I had my concert ticket with my train ticket. It must have fallen out on the train. But I have the receipt,” I showed the receipt, “and I am really sorry I just want to get it, and can you print me a new ticket that is all I need.” I stopped.

My breath was frosting up the booth. I told the tale in a mix of Korean and English. Finally one of the girls walked over and asks again. This time I told the whole thing in Korean. She stopped me and asked me in English what happened, so I told the whole thing again in English.

“I don’t think we can do anything.” This was not the answer I was hoping for. I don’t want to have to buy the ticket again, although I know that was a real possibility. I whipped out the phone and called Hyun, who I had prepared on speed dial and he played his role in the story.  She then goes over and talked to a manager. He came up to me.

“So you lost your ticket?” I hated looking like the idiot foreigner, but I did it anyway. He finally agreed.

“We can give you a new ticket, but the number will be much higher. Not so good. But maybe you can get closer to the stage.”

I was confused.

“Is it seating or general audience?”

“It’s general audience.”

“But my number will be higher?”


I was thinking in the back of my brain you have to be fucking kidding me. Only in Korea (or perhaps Asia) would you have assigned seating for a general-audience show. I played along, thinking this had to be somehow wrong.

“Okay, that’s fine.” I got the ticket and some vague directions for dinner and I was off. I ended up in a Chinese place as it was the only place I was fairly sure I could get food without too much sugar. I forgot to ask for sauce on the side, and the restraint owners gave me sort of amused looks as I wiped sauce off my food, but it’s my life and I will do what I want.

I get back to the hall around 7:20 a few minutes before they opened the doors.  It was then that I realized that, yes, in fact, the general audience show did indeed have assigned seating. Outside of the show doors several flag areas had been set up. Each flag area represented a variety of the numbers of the tickets from 1 to 900, which was about the number they expected to sell. I was in the 800s now, where before I would have been in the 200s. I watched the line for a few minutes, headed to the bathroom, got a coffee, and went over to stand in the line for the 800s. The Electrician was on my phone so I tried to explain it to him.

“Assigned Seating?”

“Yes, I’m in line for it now.”

“What, do they paint little boxes on the floor with your number on it?” His guess was as good as mine, I signed off as the lines started to move. There were security people calling out numbers. I realized that even in the line they were trying to get people to stand in the correct order. Since the people are at the top of the 800 line were actually 850, and I was 817 I got to cut in front of all of them as the guard tried to order us correctly by number. I was giggling at the hilarity of it as I got pushed in front of the people who had been standing at the top of the line for 45 minutes and then entered the concert hall.

Upon getting into my position I sent the Electrician a cryptic “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH” and told him I would explain later.

The laughter was warranted.

Inside the doors I had waited twenty minutes to enter was indeed a general-audience floor show. On the floor there were eight sections that were set off by metal bars. Obviously I was expected, because of the assigned numbers, to stay back in the 800 area.

I took one look at the arrangement and said, “Fuck. That.” And walked blithely right up to the stage. I found a nice spot, practically on the rail off on the right side. There were a couple of short Korean girls in front of me, but it was perfect. And once the show actually started the crowd pressed moved them down just enough that I was on the rail with no one in front of me. Perfect spot, perfect location, for a great show. I was very pleased with myself. And the band did not disappoint.

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