Arts & Entertainment

Newark Says “반갑습니다” to South Korean mega-band

Fans line up at the Prudential Center in Newark for tickets for Exo, a Korean pop band.
Fans line up at the Prudential Center in Newark for tickets for Exo, a Korean pop band.
Fans line up at the Prudential Center in Newark for tickets for Exo, a Korean pop band.

A quick glance at the line of tents and tired-eyed school-age girls anxiously checking their phones snaked around the Prudential Center down Mulberry Street Tuesday morning, and you’d be forgiven for thinking One Direction or Bruno Mars was making a stop at the Rock.

But these teenagers aren’t queuing up for Zayn Malik or Justin Bieber - instead, they’re going crazy over Chen, Baekhyn and Xiumin.

You may not have heard of Exo, a youthful combo from South Korea, but it’s a safe bet they’re making waves that extend far beyond the Yellow Sea right here to the shores of Newark Bay.

Sign Up for E-News

They’ve been called “the biggest boyband in the world,” topping the Forbes Korea ”Power Celebrity” list two years in a row and selling millions of albums and EPs worldwide.

It’s all part of a bear market for K-pop - popular music and culture originating in the Korean peninsula - fueled largely by social media and now firmly anchored in the West.

According to South Korean newspaper of record JoongAng Ilbo, of the roughly 2.28 billion hits on K-pop videos on YouTube, more than 240 million came from the United States. A quick search of Facebook confirms the trend, revealing legions of paengeol (fangirls) from across the Anglosphere.

Hijau Park, 17, who had been camped out with her friends since ten in the morning the previous day, gave her full-throated endorsement. “They’re the best group in the universe,” she said with a broad grin.

Sydney Richardson, 18, came from Chicago to see Exo, and said her and her friends had been taking turns holding their place in line, going back and forth between one of their parents’ houses.

“The only other show they’re playing in the US is in Los Angeles,” she explained. “One of my friends is from Florida; another one is from DC.”

“They sing, they dance, they rap,” she said. “They’re just really well-rounded artists. And they have a great dynamic!”

The commotion was so electric that one parent even pulled me aside to express her displeasure.

“The band’s security and promoters should really do more to make sure these kids are supervised,” said the mother, who asked not to be identified because “my daughter would kill me” is she knew her frustration. “They’re out here all night long, security’s done nothing, and the police didn’t get here until early this morning. It’s very irresponsible.”

Irresponsible or not, if you’re curious to see the k-mania up close, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny.

The presale rapidly sold out, and mezzanine tickets are currently running on StubHub (a popular ticket resale website) at an average of $130 a pop. Kkam-jjak-iya, indeed. For everyone like me, whose Tuesday-night-concert-years are long behind them, check out their YouTube channel and catch the Korean wave.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Traffic shifts this weekend as bridge replacement project advances

March 1, 2018

Newark, NJ—New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials announced Thursday a long-term traffic shift on I-280 eastbound and I-280 westbound starting this weekend to allow for bridge replacement work to advance to the final stage in construction of the I-280 and Route 21 Interchange Improvements Project in Newark.

Beginning Friday, March 2, the NJDOT is scheduled to ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

March 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey welcome first African-American leader in its history

PISCATAWAY - One of the largest Girl Scout councils in New Jersey, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ), today announced the appointment of longtime advocate of girl empowerment and Girl Scouting, Natasha Hemmings, to Chief Executive Officer. Hemmings will take the GSHNJ helm on April 9.

Hemmings, a Piscataway resident who holds a Masters in Public Administration from Rutgers ...

Trees Have Sex? Rutgers Researchers Have All the Answers

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A few years ago, Rutgers researcher Jennifer Blake-Mahmud was working on a botany project in Virginia when colleagues pointed out a striped maple, a common tree in the understory of mountain forests from Nova Scotia to Georgia. 


“They told me, ‘We think it switches sex from year to year, but we don’t know why,’ and I said, ...

How Can NJ Legalize Marijuana Before Updating its Liquor Laws from the Dark Ages?

February 26, 2018

In Trenton, did you know it’s illegal to throw a bad pickle on the street, or that men in New Jersey are banned from knitting during fishing season?

Sure, there are plenty of silly, outdated laws on the books.

Here is another wacky one: Supermarket chains in New Jersey are prevented from acquiring more than two liquor licenses.

Huh? Why??

That law harks back to the Kennedy ...