With construction going on at the Olympic Park Gymnastics Hall and high yellow dust levels mixed with strong winds, it wasn′t exactly a great day to be outside.
But regardless of the dusty wind, thousands of fans, decorated in orange, turned up to see Shinhwa celebrate its 17th anniversary.
Ahead of the concert at around 2:30 PM, random bursts of cheering could be heard in all areas around the stadium. The results were in for SBS′ Inkigayo. Shinhwa just broke a new career record with another win – nine trophies for Shinhwa′s latest song, Sniper.
By the time the concert was ready to begin, the entire stadium was filled with fans. Holding up their orange glowsticks, they began to chant ′Shinhwa San,′ a phrase that has been chanted for the past 17 years and one that would be heard repeatedly throughout the entire concert, not leaving even a second of silence during the 3 hours and 30 minute concert.
The Shinhwa 17th Anniversary Concert ′WE′ began with T.O.P, the song that gained Shinhwa its first music program win. Dressed in white, the Shinhwa members appeared with deafening screams ringing in air.
During introductions, the group′s leader Eric said, “We wondered if we could exceed This Love. We worried a lot, wondering if it′s all downhill from here. Because of that, we prepared even harder.”
Referring to the new record set on the same day, Eric continued, “But the thing that we didn′t even imagine happening, happened. I think the power of Shinhwa Changjos (Shinhwa′s fanclub) is amazing. It′s a new record made in the 17 years of Shinhwa. I think we need to give them a big bow.”
Facing fans in the front and the back, the Shinhwa members bowed down to the floor, thanking fans for all the support and love.
Jun Jin then brought up the promises the group made before the comeback. “There were two promises we made regarding number ones. Kim Dong Wan and Shin Hye Sung′s dance battle of the century. And if we won on all three broadcast stations, we would switch our roles in the Sniper performance.
Keeping their promise, Shin Hye Sung shyly danced a bit of EXID′s Up&Down. But the real surprise came with Kim Dong Wan, who was soon joined by several female dancers as he carried out an almost-too-good-to-be-true performance of Up&Down, which the other members later joined in on.
In the end, Shin Hye Sung waved the white flag, pointing Kim Dong Wan as the winner this time.
Later on in the concert, the Sniper switcheroo performance also had fans grabbing their stomachs in laughter, as the Shinhwa members half-performed, half-mocked each other in exaggeration.
Not to be excluded from a Shinhwa concert, a hilarious VCR began to play, showing the Shinhwa members in discussion before recording the song Memory. Wanting to spice things up a bit after 17 years, the members decided that Andy will take control of the producing instead of Lee Min Woo and the rappers will switch parts with the singers.
With Eric sincerely belting out falsetto adlibs and curly-haired Kim Dong Wan doing a choppy rap about USB memory sticks and bowls of udon, the VCR had the entire stadium roaring at the ridiculousness of it all. But at the end, the video left a warm feeling, as it read,
To us, who have not changed in 17 yearsTo you, who gave us unchanging love for 17 yearsWe gift this song.
From beginning to finish, Shinhwa performed a wide range of songs that had fans in complete excitement.
From its first album to its latest 12th, Shinhwa brought out powerful performances of Sniper, Venus, Brand New, Wild Eyes, Hey Come On, Mannequin, Alright, , as well as the cute with I Pray 4 U, Love Song, I′m in Love and more.
Feeling high on life, the Shinhwa members entertained the fans even during the performances. In Acquainted Man, Shin Hye Sung sang the lyrics, “You can curse at me,” and Kim Dong Wan hilariously obeyed, catching everyone off guard, including Shin Hye Sung, who stopped singing in the middle to scold Kim Dong Wan. During Give It To Me, the members gave each other missions to do a sexy action as they sang the risqué lyrics, which of course the fans joyously welcomed.
Memory tugged on the hearts of fans, as they heard the song gifted to them by Shinhwa, live for the first time. The ending song, Once In a Lifetime, pushed some fans to tears as the round platform that the Shinhwa members stood on began to rise to reveal the special message of “Thank You Shinhwa Changjo.”
A total of 26 performances were staged on this night with the Shinhwa members insisting that they weren′t tired at all many times throughout the concert.
But it wasn’t just the Shinhwa members singing at the concert on this day. The fans in the crowd sang along to every single word in every song, creating an amazing, resounding effect each time Shinhwa took the stage.
Ahead of a performance, Kim Dong Wan stood at the center spotlight and said, “Were you hurt that I said I won’t take responsibility for your lives? That’s right. I won’t take responsibility for your lives. The Shinhwa members won’t take responsibility for your lives either. Never ever. However, the Shinhwa members will make sure you won’t collapse. Because the thing that someone loves the most will keep that person from falling. In order to do that, we can’t collapse either right? For us to not collapse, we need you. Your love, your interest, and your entire presence. Shinhwa Changjo. Do you believe it?”
Lee Min Woo also added, “Shinhwa is the longest-running idol group. That means Shinhwa Changjo is the longest-running fanclub. Even if I am born again, I want to be born like this. I want to meet you and our mischievous members again. I’m so thankful to be alive as Shinhwa, and I’m so thankful to be with all of you. You are a huge strength and a driving force to Shinhwa. Thank you. You all know I love you, right?”
As the concert came to an end, the members gathered to say their final thoughts to the fans.
“As we prepared the album, there was a burden left behind from This Love. We always have that anxiety. The anxiety where we don’t know what will happen. We’ve had it for 17 years,” shared Eric. “As we were preparing this concert, there were things that were unstable and we worried if we’ll do well on the day of. After working hard and finishing it, the responses were good. Thank you for looking kindly on us. Thank you for coming here. Please love Shinhwa next year during the 18th anniversary too.”
“16, 17 – the numbers will continue rising, but every time it does, the burden gets bigger. We feel like we need to do something more and better. There are times when we get exhausted as we prepare under that burden,” said Shin Hye Sung. “I felt it during this promotion, but whenever that happens, you are all there to hold us up, so we realized that we just need to work hard without any burdens. I sincerely thank you.”
In a second of overwhelming emotions, Lee Min Woo began to tear up, causing a ripple effect to the fans. “We’ve stood on many stages. We’ve received a lot of love through so many songs. And that became 17 years. Thank you so much for the past 17 years. Let’s all be together with Shinhwa forever.”
While it was Shinhwa’s 17th anniversary, the Shinhwa members kept the entire concert about the fans.
Keeping the title of the concert, WE closely in mind, Shinhwa repetitively turned the reason of the group’s existence to the fans. From the first stage to the last, the Shinhwa members continuously expressed their gratitude, verbally, physically (from little finger hearts to full body-sized ones), through the VCR, and in song.
Many changes have taken place in the past 17 years, but the relationship between Shinhwa and the Shinhwa Changjos have stayed constant and strong throughout the years despite controversies, scandals, long-hour work days, marriage, children, and much, much more.
If this love/hate – but mostly love – relationship continues for the next 17 years or more, we’re certain that by the time Shinhwa’s at the age where concerts turn into dinner shows, there will still be a bright glow of orange, as well as loud chants of “Shinhwa San” and Kim Dong Wan screaming, “Shinhwa Changjo, manse!” being heard inside the dining hall.
Photo Credit: Grace Hong, Shincom Entertainment, Hea Jung Min