26 April: Only 26 days after EXO-M’s debut, Korea’s SM Entertainment’s new group EXO-M displayed their powerful rookie charisma in Changsha, China. They recorded an episode of Kuaile Da Ben Ying (Happiness Camp) with Taiwanese host Show Luo, attracting many fans coming on site to chase their stars. The voices of illegal ticket price-jackers standing at the entrance to sell tickets was testimony to this group’s popularity. “The tickets are the most expensive this year, last year when Lee Min-ho came, his tickets weren’t even this expensive.” And one of the EXO-M members, Changsha native Zhang Yixing, appeared to be exceptionally delighted. He said, “I’ve been missing home a lot, coming home to record a show, I feel really honoured.”
After it was known that EXO-M was to record a show in Changsha, EXO-M’s Baidu bar (*China’s equivalent of a fancafe) began bubbling with excitement. Many fans greeted EXO-M at the airport when the group flew from Korea to Changsha.
Before 3pm yesterday afternoon, Hunan Television was filled with fans. Fans reported, “Some fans even travelled here from Russia, Malaysia and Taiwan.” Ms Lu, born in the 1960s, was one of the fans who travelled there from Taiwan. She said, “They are SM’s best new group now, with a great future in China.” And her favourite member is Changsha kid, Zhang Yixing. She feels that boys “close to (her) son’s age” are “very hardworking and willing to improve themselves”. Why did she go to Changsha specially to watch the recording? Ms Lu said, “They’re so popular now, in the future it will be even harder to watch their live appearances.”
Even though Kuaile Da Ben Ying’s tickets are not sold to outsiders, some illegal ticket price-jackers are always able to receive tickets from some audience members. At 3.30pm yesterday, it was 5 hours before the recording. Illegal ticket price-jackers were buying tickets. Reporters checked with them and found that the prices had inflated to 1200 Chinese yuan to 1600 yuan. One illegal ticket price-jacker enthused excitedly, “It’s EXO, and it’s also Show Luo, so today’s live show tickets are the most expensive this year.” He revealed that “Korean artists are all pretty good at selling tickets, in the past, it was Hangeng’s group, and last year, Lee Min-ho was very popular, but compared to today, Lee Min-ho’s sales were not as good.”
Even though a ticket being sold that day was equal to a VIP concert seat’s price, demand exceeded supply. At 6pm, some EXO-M fans offered to pay 1500 yuan for tickets, but the problem was — tickets were sold out.
SM Entertainment is famous for being strict with its artist management. EXO-M’s Changsha visit was also very strictly managed.
2 days ago at 7pm EXO-M reached Huanghua Airport, but they left the airport only after 8pm. Some fans guessed that they spent so long in the airport to tidy up their appearances after a long flight. Around 5pm, the 6 EXO-M members reached the recording studio for rehearsals, and non-staff members were told to leave the work area. According to the staff, this was because SM Entertainment requested for the studio to be emptied during rehearsals.
In this new group, there is a face very familiar to Changsha residents. It is the third-place winner of Hunan TV’s Mingxing Xueyuan (Superstar Academy) competition in 2005, Changsha kid Zhang Yixing. After training hard in Korea, and returning home for a recording, Zhang Yixing specially introduced himself to reporters: “I am a Changsha native.” and added, “I’ve been very homesick in Korea and being able to return home to record a show, I feel very honoured.” And Zhang’s mom who was at the scene said, “He misses home when he’s over there, and at home, we miss him every day.” However, Zhang Yixing could not go back to his home personally even though he was in his hometown. He said, “On coming back here I’ve already called my family, but I don’t have time to go back to my house.”