The FinK.L. Experience

By Hank Peng

After a humbling FinK.L. experience in Atlanta by John, Bob, Kirk, Wayne, and I, (no comment required), there were initial doubts and speculations about the 2000 Dream Concert in LA headlining Fin.K.L after hearing various rumors and reading posts on message boards and forums. For those that don't know, Fin.K.L (which stands for Fine Killing Liberty and pronounced "Feen-kul") consists of the following four females, Hyolee, Jin, Yuri, and Fatty.. err, I mean Ju Hyun. They currently have out 4 albums, Blue Rain, White, 2.5, a live album, and various vcd's with live shows and compilations of videos. (all of which are on various share directories on the network).

For those familiar with LA, the concert took place in Shrine Auditorium which otherwise resembles an auditorium like the one used in Showtime at the Apollo. Tim, Agnes, John, Wayne, and Agnes' friend were in 5th row, to the left of the stage, while Bob, Me, Kirk, and Lily (Kirk's gf) were in the 6th row, front and center stage. While waiting outside, we picked up some concert t-shirts. What's great about k-pop concerts are that the shirts only cost $10 each usually, instead of the 25 to 30 dollars you usually have to pay for rock (Tool, Metallica, A Perfect Circle) and Britney (they're real, btw) concerts. And in the spirit of the event, we picked up some of the traditional glow-sticks that you see fans waving with in every k-pop concert video. In comparison to the H.O.T concert that Wayne and I went to last month, there was a vast difference in the average age of the crowd and the percentage of males and females. For H.O.T, the average age hovered around the 12 to 17 year old range, with the ratio being roughly 1500 girls to 150 guys. For Fin.K.L, the average age was more around 18 and there almost an even amount of girls to guys. The concert began roughly 25 minutes late, and it kicked off with Uhm Jung Wha. Now Uhm Jun Wha is considered a little "old" because she is all of 28 years old, but she is the Madonna/Mariah Carey of the industry because of her lasting power and also cause she is the most sensuous k-pop artist as of date, as well as sometimes referred to as once the most beautiful female singer. She was very energetic during her performances, even trying to encourage the crowd to get up and dance along. But sadly, nobody got out of their chairs. This can be attributed to one of two factors, one being that the crowd was just warming up, two being that because she was speaking in korean, half of the audience (including all of us other than Agnes' friend) couldn't understand what she was saying. Starting off in an Egyptian-style outfit, she proceeded to sing 3 sings, each of which she came out in fewer and fewer clothes, until she ended up in a sleek dress. After talking to the audience for about 8 minutes (more stuff we didn't understand), the hooting and hollering began, such as the "Uhm Jungwha saranghae!" (which means "I love you" in korean) which she would smile and acknowledge the fan. Moving on, they showed a 20 minute long video documentary of Ryu Shi Won (pronounced Roo instead of Rie-yu), who is a young soap opera actor turned singer. He can be compared to as a Jennifer Love Hewitt exploring into the music scene, except that his power ballads and stage presence are a lot better. So after this documentary which dragged on a bit excessively while showing what seemed to be every instance he was in for this one soap opera, he finally came on stage in a white suit. He poured out good power ballads and while it was great and all, it was obvious all the guys in the audience were getting fidgety in anticipation for Fin.K.L to come out. After 3 songs and some more korean talk, he finally introduced Fin.K.L. The girls came out in the red and white outfits that were first revealed to us in Atlanta. At the beginning of the first song, one of Yuri's (Kirk's favorite) spaghetti straps broke. No peep show tho, since her top was still on pretty tightly. Jin (Bob's ALL-TIME favorite) was looking like her normal self and Hyolee (Tim, Wayne, and my favorite) came out in a nice ab-revealing mid-riff top and poofy warm-up style pants. Now all the girls looked about 10 lbs thinner in person than in the videos (no surprise there), however when Ju Hyun came out, we were all taken aback in shock as it seemed like she had gained at least 15 lbs since the last pics we had seen in their Photobook.

Now, there have long been fights in Korean pop music discussions and forums about the rights and wrongs of lip synching, since in Korea it is an acceptable practice in many shows because it is more about the performance. However, over here, it is heavily frowned upon most of the time, and as their Live album has demonstrated, sometimes two members of Fin.K.L do not sing very well live. So imagine the surprise and irony when halfway through the first song, "Youngwon-han Sarang" aka Forever Love, the main speakers cut out completely, leaving the auditorium in almost a dead silence except for the dull mumur of the rear speakers playing the music in an almost whisper like volume. Fin.K.L didn't even blink, as they kept on dancing and their mouths kept on moving to the silence... except... no sound came out of their mouths. (pause for laughter). OH, we could hear their feet tapping clearly on the stage, but absolutely no sound came out from their lips. Most of the audience didn't seem to mind or even think anything of it, as they just kept watching them and as before. The rest of the audience that wasn't used to a performance like this sat in shock and amusement. Eventually, about a minute or two of this lip service, apparently the sound engineers got yelled at by the manager and fixed the speakers and we were back in action. To the utter delight of the audience, Hyolee threw her glowstick to the audience which landed to a dad two rows in front of us. Almost immediately, the dad turned around and asked if there were any high bidders for the souvenir. Ju Hyun threw hers as well, however, to Bob's disappointment, Jin held onto to hers and never threw it. They performed like 3 songs, talked to the audience some, upon which audience members yelled out "saranghae Hyolee" and "saranghae Yuri". For the second set, the outfits they came out in were scandalous! Especially for Hyolee and Yuri. Both of them wore skin tight black vinyl pants, with high mid-riff tops. In addition, Hyolee busted out with a sexy silver belly chain. In Kirk’s words, “That’s a gg (good game).” Needless to say, there was a lot of whistling and drooling in the crowd (not to mention some jealous girlfriends). Now let me cut away to Bob's take on the experience:

"The part about the FinKL concert that struck me the most was of course, seeing them live and in person, a mere 15 or 20 feet away. That experience struck us dumb, just flat out. We all carried in cameras (forbidden in the Shrine Auditorium) with plans to snap dozens of pictures for posterity. But when Hyori/Jin/Yuri popped out on stage, it seemed as if all higher thinking capacity seeped right out of our ears. We were pretty much helpless except to gawk at them with slack jaws. If I have any regrets, it's that I didn't make a big enough fool of myself. I managed to yell at the top of my lungs "I LOVE YOU JIN!!!" embarrassing both Hank and Kirk sitting next to me. But it's debatable whether or not Jin actually heard it. I probably should have made a big sign like some people did, or brought in flowers - those with flowers were allowed by security to hand them off to the performers on stage! What a wasted opportunity! *sigh* Hindsight is always 20/20. It was fun but I think sixth row, front and center will have to be the highlight of my Korean pop star stalking career. I just don't have Wayne's mad skillz. =(

However, Hyolee’s waistlet (belly chain) is worth it’s own paragraph and you can quote me on that!" --- Bob

In total, Fin.K.L lip synched to five songs, and were rushed from the stage immediately afterwards, to a hotel or something. Both Ryu and Uhm Jung Wha came out to perform some songs to close, and Uhm Jung Wha wore this tight white top with a white pair of semi-see through satin pants which we can sum up in Sisqo's "The Thong Song". Sensuous indeed! As Bob pointed out, cameras were forbidden in the auditorium, but despite efforts by the tight security with the flashlights, we were able to snap a few photos for our memories. Although performance time was like 45% Uhm Jung Wha (no one complained about that), 35% Ryu, and 20% Fin.K.L (wished they did more), unlike other concerts, there were actually assigned seats so we were not forced to wait in line at 6 am just to get good seats. In retrospect, we also should have taken advantage of John's domain of to garner an opportunity to meet them. Overall, the Dream Concert with Fin.K.L was definitely a treat. All the entertainers were great performers and very crowd conscious while interacting with the audience in a fun (although not currently understandable) manner. Next trip: Concert in S. Korea perhaps?

"my least favorite part was when finkl fatty thought she was tori amos and started busting out little earthquakes. in retrospect, favorite part was when we got back to UCLA." --- wayne
"least favorite? FinKl was SOOOO scripted. the way they each said something into the mic, taking turns. and the lip synching was dumb too... ryu shi won video was KIND OF LONG. Uhm Jung Hwa was cool tho." --- tim

TwainOoooh Shania..take me home!