Monday, July 23, 2007

Smashing Hotel Rooms? What Visiting Stars Do in Korea

A bevy of international music stars will come to Korea for concerts this year. They will make a deep impression on numerous Korean fans with their performance, but what impression will the stars come away with? The Chosun Ilbo asked sources in the performance industry for a glimpse of the life some famous musicians enjoyed during their visit to Korea.

Can’t live without booze

Many (mostly Rock) musicians proved that they couldn’t live without alcohol by spending every spare minute here drinking. The now-disbanded heavy metal group Pantera would have won the competition for the hardest visiting drinkers. The group enjoyed themselves at the Walkerhill Hotel casino all night on the night before their gig, drinking two or three 500 ml bottles of liquor a head. After getting a bit of sleep at the hotel, they gave the planned concert, with the help of more liquor stored in 10 beer glasses at the corner of the stage.

The British singer Sting kept a low profile by enjoying some wine privately in his hotel room, but he spent as much as W4 million (US$1=W938) on meals and wine during his four-day stay. Of course, he paid for it himself. Another heavy metal group, Rage Against the Machine, spent W2.5 million on wine here.

Counter-intuitively, according to a staffer with event organizers Access Entertainment, Metallica, who have been nicknamed “Alcohollica” for their dedication to booze, did not touch a drop during either of their two Korea visits.


Sharon Osbourne, the wife of Ozzy Osbourne, showed what a shopaholic is like during their Seoul visit. She bought knockoff bags and watches worth some W5 million in Itaewon, the well-kwon pirate brand district in Seoul. Craig David brought home a Korean-made MP3 player he bought at the TechnoMart shopping center and about a dozen antiques including paintings and stone statues from Insa-dong. A staffer with Private Curve said many pop and jazz musicians like to look around Insa-dong and buy antiques to take home.

Out walking

When British rock group Oasis visited, they encountered some young fans of the Korean boy band TVXQ in front of the group’s agency SM Entertainment in Apgujeong, Seoul. Some of them recognized the world famous group and followed them. Some 10 minutes later, Noel Gallagher asked them why they kept following and gave them his autograph to send them away.

Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst also spent some time in Korea walking around Apgujeong. He ran into a cable music TV crew team who were doing street interviews and, feeling a sudden urge for fun, shouted in front of camera, “I, Limp Bizkit, have come to Korea.” Failing to recognize him, a reporter was dumbfounded, and Durst, now also confused, went on his way. But a producer recognized him belatedly and drove after him, succeeding in landing an interview.

When Eric Clapton was in the country for his first concert here a decade ago, he bought three pairs of socks for W10,000 from a street vendor while strolling around the busy streets of Seoul’s Gangnam. The elderly vendor threw in another pair for free saying, “You have grown old gracefully.” Clapton thanked him and left.


When Boyz II Men came to Korea in 2005 to give a joint performance with Korean girl band Big Mama, they got into a fight over music. It was resolved magically by getting them to play poker for US$1 stakes. Smashing Pumpkins was so notorious for discord between members that they sat separately on the plane and had separate meals in Seoul. A source from event planners Yellow Nine said members also went to separate bars after their concert.


All bad boys the Prodigy really wanted in Korea was a sauna. When they came here in 1999 for the Triport Rock Festival in Incheon, their performance was canceled due to heavy rain. The group’s manager called the festival organizers and asked to change the hotel because the place where the Big Beats combo were staying would not allow them into the sauna because of their tattoos. The firm had to decline, saying no hotels would tolerate body art of such dimensions.

The Hip-Hop group Black Eyed Peas, who attended the Pentaport Rock Festival in Incheon last year, were unwilling to wear their expensive shoes costing W2-3 million on the muddy stage, so they bought Wellington’s boots worth W4,000 on the spot and performed in them instead.


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