Britney Spears Seoul concert feeds on ’90s nostalgia

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Fans relive their teenage years through Spears’ first concert in Korea

  • Published : Jun 11, 2017 - 16:53
  • Updated : Jun 11, 2017 - 18:30

American pop star Britney Spears held a concert in Korea for the first time Saturday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, Seoul.

Spears was previously in Korea in 2003 to promote her album “In the Zone.” She appeared on a local TV program and sang a duet with Korean singer BoA, but Saturday’s show, the second leg of her Asia tour following Japan, was her first concert here.

Concert organizers opened up 17,000 seats for the event, with the highest-priced VVIP tickets at up to 220,000 won ($195). The actual attendance, however, was estimated at 12,000 concertgoers, organizers said.

Britney Spears performs in Tokyo, Japan, for her 2017 Asia Tour on June 3 and 4. (iMe KOREA)

During the two-hour show, Spears blazed through 27 songs with eight wardrobe changes -- skimpy costumes that revealed her famous “derriere,” as she sings in “Piece of Me,” “Don’t matter if I step on the scene ... They’re still gonna put pictures of my derriere in the magazine.”

Kwon Yi-jae and Park Heyi-kyeong, both 31-year-old concertgoers, said Spears was “still beautiful,” and that her songs had formed the backdrop of their high school years.

“We knew all her songs by heart. It’s as if we grew up with her,” Park said.

“Some people say her heyday is behind her, but she continues to give her best and that is inspiring,” Kwon said.

Spears began to gain recognition among Korean fans with her first hit, “Baby One More Time,” in 1998.

A majority of fans present at the concert were aged from their late 20s to mid-30s -- those who had idolized Spears during their teenage years.

“I was a fan since I was born,” said Kim Hyun-soo who came to the show with a group of his male friends. Kim, born in 1990, was 9 years old when Spears made her debut, but his enthusiastic comment reflected the heated atmosphere of the concert.

“We came from Ulsan,” said two women who declined to give their names as their 4 1/2 hour ride to Seoul was a clandestine fan girl mission that their in-laws did not know about.

Britney Spears performs in Tokyo, Japan, for her 2017 Asia Tour on June 3 and 4. (iMe KOREA)

When Spears shouted “What’s up Seoul!” the crowd responded back with roaring cheers.

Brigitte Patton from San Diego, California, and Kelly Kim from Hawaii said Spears was their “muse, diva, the princess of pop, it-girl No. 1”

Some fans came dressed as Spears, donning outfits they had seen in her music videos. Sacre Blue and Flowerbomb, stage performers in Korea, dressed up as the air stewardess from Spears’ “Toxic” and the office lady from “Womanizer,” respectively. Several fans from the UK and the US dressed in black leotards and colorful skirts with their hair tied up in side ponytails, like Spears in “Baby One More Time.”

Spears has been criticized for her lip syncing, but the intensity of her dance performances in Seoul made it seem impossible for anyone to sing and dance at the same time the way she did. The show was breathtaking, both for Britney and the army of fans jumping up and down in unison on the floor.

As the concert came to an end, Britney’s name was the third top trending search term on Korean portal site Naver.

Britney’s next Asia tour stop is Taipei on Tuesday. From Taiwan, she will continue on to the Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong. Concerts in Bangkok and Hong Kong have already sold out. Spears released a new album, “Glory: Japan Tour Edition,” on Friday.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)