As most of you know, today was my last day in Japan and my first in Korea. As I type this, my day is still going. It’s only 4:30 PM, and I’ve just gotten to my gate at Osaka International Airport (KIX). My flight isn’t for 3 hours yet.
I’m not as nervous a flier this trip as I have been on previous trips, which is really lovely. Everything has gone smoothly, too. The most unexpected thing was turning over my residency card at immigration, but that went off without a hitch. It’s also where my enviable little tale begins. (Well, enviable for some. You know who you are.)
I’ve filled out a piece of paper and turned over my card to be hole punched. As I’m waiting for the man at immigration to finalize everything, a few people who have already passed through try and take pictures over the wall and are told to go away. I’m puzzled but ultimately unconcerned. My goal is to get this immigration process finished and be at my gate.
The man returns my card and other items, and I thank him. As I turn to go out into the airport, I’m met with a dozen or more cameras. Not cell phones. (There were far more of those behind them). Legitimate cameras.
Obviously, I’m world-renowned, so I was a little bitter when I realized they weren’t pointing their lenses at me.
So who were they clamoring to photograph, I asked myself and you’re asking me.
As soon as I got into the airport, I heard it.
Half of you are going to ask, like I would have had I not had my lovely role-playing hobby, who or what the heck is “EXO”? For those in the know, shush your screaming and fangirling (or fanboying) so I can explain.
They’re a K-Pop boy group. (For those still not quite in the know, K-Pop stands for Korean Pop. There’s J-Pop and C-Pop, too. I’m sure you can figure those ones out.)
Now, as I said, my roleplaying has made me aware of various Korean artists like Exo. I have a couple of their songs. (Thanks, Polo. Sorry I haven’t particularly cared to listen to them or the BTS ones yet.) Basically, for those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, I’m on a roleplaying site, and for roleplaying, many times you need a famous person’s face to represent your character. Perhaps someone uses Johnny Depp, for example, to placehold for their rock star character Daren.
Well, the site I’m on is set in Seoul, South Korea, so, naturally, many famous Koreans are going to have their photos featured around the site. EXO is one of the bands that characters’ faces are taken from. (I actually know less than a handful of things about any KPop groups or people, and I don’t have a particular interest in learning, but that’s another topic for another time. One of my characters is from EXO? The Chinese branch of EXO? You’d think after a year or so I’d have remembered that information better.)
So, back at the airport, I’m walking past papparazzi. (It has only reaffirmed my desire to NEVER be famous and has increased my respect for anyone who can bear through the swarms, flashes of light, and screams.)
I stand off to the side and fool around with little things that aren’t important. I’ve always asked myself what would happen if I met someone famous, or evenif I happened to see them from across an airport. Would I be starstruck? Would I try and play it cool but really be dying to be a screaming fan or a shiny-eyed onlooker? Or would, as I believed, be just another passerby, waiting for the stars to walk ahead of me so I don’t get trampled (as I felt myself close to being) by their photographers and die-hard fans?
Let’s just say I know myself pretty well. I stuck around partly because of the crowds but mainly because I’m an awesome friend who can now tell this story. (I’m not an awesome friend in that I took no pictures of them. I’m sure you can find them online. EXO. Osaka. KIX. Airport. July 27th, 2015. Have at it.)
Anywho, I stuck around, saw them, and couldn’t tell you who was who because (-shrug-) not really that huge a deal to me. (Plus the masks make it a little more difficult, at least for someone like me who isn’t at all an expert.)
So I hung back, noted that I saw them, maybe met eyes with one of them briefly, and then let them walk ahead of me. (Before you ask, no, they aren’t on my flight. They aren’t even in the same part of the airport.) Maybe they love the attention, and maybe they don’t, but I don’t particularly want to add to what must very quickly grow to be a painfully routine experience. (Perhaps this is my not-star material shining through.) I’ll just let them do their thing and admire or respect or simply watch from afar.
(Now, if they wanna come up and talk to me for some reason, I won’t stop them. I’ll let you know if it ever happens. Maybe we’ll find out I don’t know myself as well as I think. But in my defense, in case this ever does occur, I’m terribly awkward with conversations in general anyway, especially with strangers. So if I meet EXO again and they single me out like the special pencil I am, if I falter, it’s not necessarily because I’m star-struck. Got it?)
What an exciting (yet ultimately uneventful) start to my vacation in Korea. (Sorry, EXO! I’m sure you all are grand.) At the end, all I could think were three thoughts, and that’s what I’ll leave you with.
– I saw EXO. That’ll be a great thing to torment my K-Pop-addicted friends with – and without pictures, too. (Heck, without even being able to tell them apart or know which group they were. Waste of an experience, eh, friends o’ mine?) Mwahahaha!!
– I never, ever want to be famous.
– Those poor boys. The paparazzi. The swarms. The screams. Having to be so closely guarded that there’s little room to walk. Takes a special kind of person to be able to continually put up with that. Ganbare, EXO! Respect.