From May 6 – May 7, Hallyu North (HANO) held their KPOP convention at Enercare Centre, Toronto. SHINee was the headlining artist who was set to perform on Friday May 6, 2016. While SHINee’s performance was surreal, the rest of the convention was an utter mess.
Hallyu North advertised a convention like no other. They promised numerous booth selling KPOP merchandise, workshops for KPOP choreography, trivia, fanchants, a food festival, and fanmeets with numerous Youtube stars and even past idols, Hayana from Evol and E.Den from LC9. SHINee was set to perform on the Friday evening. Fans were promised performances AND activities for at least an hour.
What really happened on that weekend was nothing close to what was promised. The actual event was a mismanaged and discounted version of what was advertised. I will focus on the positive before I get to my complaints. There were a few booths at the convention selling not only KPOP merchandise, but anime-related merchandise as well. I got myself some new posters (Bangtan Boys, Big Bang and B1A4) and apparel (shirts and hats). I also bought some crafts from local artists. I bought some beautiful bracelets that were handmade, and I also got some Running Man buttons that were made by a talented artist.
I added the above GOT7 album, “Just Right”, to my collection of KPOP albums. While many of the original workshops were poorly advertised, changed or cancelled, the few that I actually got to attend were decent. On the first day, I did not attend any of the workshops because I did not know how to get to them. The one point of access to the workshop rooms was barred as staff prepared for the concert. When I asked staff and volunteers for another point of entry, no one seemed to know where to go. I spent the first day just walking around in the same space with little or nothing to do until the concert.
On the second day, HANO was a bit more organized. Many workshops still got cancelled, but the dance tutorials I attended were fun and interesting. We learnt to dance to the chorus of SHINee’s “Replay”. There was also a Running Man trivia event put on by the University of Toronto’s Korean culture club. This was the best event after the concert. Ironically a group external to HANO managed this event. I tested my Running Man knowledge with my friends. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the end, but I did make it to the “extreme round”!
There were a few fanmeets with Youtube stars, such as JREMKL, MisterPopoTV, Shimmy and past KPOP idol, E.Den. I did not attend any of these events, but I still got a picture with JREMKL (dies)! Also, one of my favourite wrestlers, Xavier Woods, was also at the convention. He was not a guest star, but he was actually there as a fellow Shawol. My respect for Xavier Woods and New Day just increased. I also got a picture with him (double dies).
There was a dance show/competition on the second day. This was the only reason I put up with HANO for a second day. My friend (Limelight) participated in the dance competition. You can see her video below:
The winner of the dance competition was KY. Her performance really hyped the crowd! The show went well. There were not that many mishaps other than the fact that it started late and was very behind schedule. I almost missed my last bus home because of the delay.
Now that I have talked about my positive experiences at HANO, I will discuss the experiences that made me want to curse in every language that I could. Firstly, as I mentioned before, many of the panelists and stars were missing in action. Hayana was nowhere to be seen, along with some other Youtube stars. There were no announcements or explanations given for their absences.
Additionally, I am still waiting on the promised “food fest”. The only sources of food at the convention were two food trucks, one of which was kicked out because they did not have a license. One of the trucks served desserts like pudding, sticky rice and mango. The truck that was removed from the building served bibimbap. If this was the “food fair” that management intended I am highly disappointed.
The biggest disappointment of that weekend was the SHINee concert. This was the part of the convention that everyone looked forward to and HANO screwed up our experience in the worst way. A few days before the convention, management sent out an email stating that there was a queuing system in place. Lineups to get inside the convention were to start from 2:00pm. The wristbands for each zone were numbered. Therefore, according to what time you entered the center, your number on your wristband determined when you would be allowed into the hall for the concert.
At the time, I knew that this was going to be a mess. However, these were the policies that were established, so I accepted them. When I got to Enercare Center there was a huge line outside the building. We were supposed to enter the hall at 3:00pm. At minutes to 4:00pm, we were still standing outside the building. That was HANO’s first mistake. When I was finally allowed in the center, I received the 99th wristband for Zone C. I am not complaining just yet.
My major complaint is with the line management right before the concert. There were no signs or indications of where to or how to line up for the concert. Doors were supposed to open at 6:00pm and the concert was supposed to start at 7:00pm. Everyone was in a confused crowd, as no one knew what to do. There was little guidance from the volunteers. I do not blame them because official HANO staff did not effectively advise these volunteers. People were shouting and even with a megaphone, I still did not hear the volunteers.
After trying to organize us for at least an hour inside the building, they instructed us to retreat to outside the building where they would try to put us into our zones and by numbers for at least another hour and a half. While we were still a disorganized mess, we finally entered the hall by our zones.
The concert started over an hour late. Many people were upset and disgruntled. I could imagine how annoyed SHINee and their management must have felt, especially when the group had to fly out to Chicago in a few hours. Despite this, the audience was still a bit hyped as they sang along to “Married to the Music” before the concert officially started.
The concert started with Shimmy introducing himself as a host. He told some jokes and spoke for quite a bit. It was clear that he was stalling. This annoyed some of the fans. We were not annoyed with Shimmy, I actually see him as a victim to this whole mess as well, but we were annoyed with the whole disorganization of the event and just wanted to see SHINee perform.
SHINee finally came on stage and started off the performance with “Sherlock”. The crowd seemed to have found their energy again as we screamed, chanted and sang along with them. SHINee then introduced themselves and went onto to perform FOUR more songs. You read that right, including the encore, SHINee only performed five songs: “Sherlock”, “Beautiful”, “Everybody”, “View” and “Replay” (encore song). SHINee only performed for thirty minutes, including the times for the MC portions. The translator did not even do his job. Key was stuck doing the translations. It was a total embarrassment. Where was the full hour of performances we were promised? Where were the games and Q&A sessions? I can tell you that fans were not happy, especially after dealing with poor line management.
Many fans have now started a campaign to get a refund because HANO did not fulfill their promise. There were people who paid over $300 or flew in from different parts of the country and world for this event. While we enjoyed SHINee’s short performance, we feel betrayed and screwed over by HANO. HANO released a public statement that they are currently evaluating the situation and will work towards improving themselves. However, this is not enough for the attendees as many people are still trying to get a refund.
Personally, I do not believe I would get a refund, so I did not try. There were still some good highlights from HANO, but it was not enough to reimburse the money that I spent on this event. However, I do know in the future that I will NOT be attending any HANO events, regardless of whom they bring to perform.
Thank you to SHINee for putting on a great concert, even though it was short. I hope this experience does not deter them, or any other SM Entertainment group, from coming to Toronto in the future.