It was the day K-pop fan Kelly Chong was counting down to.
But the 15-year-old student's dream of seeing her favourite K-pop boyband EXO live in action was shattered.
It was announced last night that the inaugural 2013 MBC Korean Music Wave concert at Gardens by the Bay next Saturday has been cancelled.
The gig boasted a star-studded line-up that included EXO, 2PM, 2AM, FT Island, SHINee, B.A.P, B1A4, Teen Top, Miss A, Sistar, Kara, 4Minute and IU.
Kelly had been saving $20 out of her $35 weekly allowance for almost a year, so that she would have enough money to buy a ticket to catch EXO.
When she heard that EXO were going to appear at the MBC Korean Music Wave, an excited Kelly queued up for six hours at *Scape from 3am on Sept 1, just so she could secure the $365 ticket to the gig.
She told The New Paper last night: "I'm usually not a thrifty person but I started saving up so that I'd be ready for the day EXO gets here. I know that if they were here and I didn't get to see them, I'd regret it forever.
"I am very disappointed as I was really looking forward to seeing EXO.
"My friend and I were even searching online for EXO merchandise, such as lightsticks and whistles, to take to the concert. "I thought I would get to see them here before my O-level exams next year."
Jointly organised by one of South Korea's biggest broadcasters, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), and Singapore-based venture group Fatfish Entertainment, the outdoor gig had hoped to attract a crowd of over 16,000 fans.
Tickets ranged from $168 to $688.
Fatfish announced last night on the event's Facebook page: "The concert has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances including contractual difficulties with our co-producer, MBC.
"We are currently seeking professional advice to see how we can best refund our ticket holders and other creditors."
The announcement has since received over 800 comments and shares on Facebook, mostly from angry fans.
When contacted, a Fatfish spokesman said that it had paid the full contractual amount due to MBC.
However, as there were too many challenges to overcome, it had no choice but to cancel it. He declined to elaborate on the challenges faced.
"We have worked very hard and we are very, very disappointed. We understand that the fans are disappointed as well, and we are sorry about the situation," he said.
He also declined to reveal how many tickets have been sold so far.
Fatfish Entertainment, which is part of the Fatfish Group, a regional ventures investment group founded in 2011, is a newbie in the local live entertainment scene and this is the first concert that it is organising.
So what could have possibly gone wrong?
Industry insiders say that it typically costs about $4 million to stage a large-scale outdoor K-pop gig similar to the Korean Music Wave concert.
A veteran concert promoter, who declined to be named, said: "It is definitely too costly to organise this concert. You need to sell over 20,000 tickets just to break even."
The last time such a large-scale concert was held here was in November 2012, during the SMTown Live World Tour III. It saw 26,000 fans cheering for Super Junior, Girls' Generation, SHINee and others at The Float@Marina Bay.
The production cost for the concert, which was organised by Running Into The Sun, was $5 million.
A Running Into The Sun spokesman said: "The fact that we were dealing with tens of thousands of people meant that we had to ensure that crowd control and security were very carefully planned.
"Even the marketing campaign had to be well-formulated to aid in the selling of such a massive number of tickets.
"With so many artists involved, a great deal of planning and coordination was also required on the part of RITS as the organiser.
"On top of that, a large amount of manpower was required and pre-concert sessions were also held to ensure that they were properly trained."
Fan Nurin Syazana bought her ticket a few hours prior to the cancellation announcement.
The 17-year-old student, who is a fan of EXO and B.A.P, said: "I was so excited about it and had already started my countdown when I heard the news.
"I am too shocked for words and it makes me want to scream out loud."
K-pop acts and their demands
In a typical tour rider for a K-pop act, their demands can include:
- Hotel suites for the artistes, including room service and a daily allowance for expenses.
- At least four security guards to escort a six-member K-pop group from the airport.
- One or two local security guards round the clock on the floor of the artistes’ rooms from arrival until departure.
- At least three vans with dark tinted windows or curtains for a six-member K-pop group.
- Up to eight Korean translators for a six-member K-pop group and their entourage.
- At least 15 cartons of mineral water and 200 cups of Korean instant noodles backstage.
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