When 7 am rolls around you are pressed and dressed, waiting at the front of the practice room assigned to the group DARC. A male idol group with 5 members; the oldest being 24 years and the makinae around 19. They are the second highest grossing group in the company. They are in preparations for their comeback, being released later in the month. That means their schedule will be filled with photo shoots, m/v filming, dance practice, and song practice. You know they will have already lay down the mini album tracks and that the packages with the merchandise and CD are in high production. Just minutes after you arrive you hear their voices coming down the hall. It might be less awkward if someone from the offices upstairs had been there to introduce you; someone must have not gotten the memo, or the schedule, if you will. Their morning chit chat dwindles as they see you standing outside their practice room. Side note, you know you are on their schedule; however, did their schedule mention that you speak Korean?
As you straighten up from the wall, the rounds of bowing start as it is obvious you are their elder. A few innocent comments as they wonder about what age you are, that you can’t be anywhere over 32? This comment is followed by agreements and appreciation for your choice of clothing and if you would be with them all day or just until they left for the photo shoot.
Oh this is too much fun. You decide to leave them thinking you are only a conversational Korean speaker. It isn’t very nice; but listening in on their conversations will tell you more about them than asking them questions.
“Miss Atlantic?” their leader asks in halting English. “Miss or Mrs?”
A mischevious smirk settles on your face as you responde, “Miss”.
Five different faces lite up the hallway. You shake your head knowing full well that Korean men either like their women much younger or older. You also know that as tempting as they are; this age difference isn’t going anywhere. You are a good 10 years older than their leader and any relationship with a 10 year difference plus is frowned upon. That won’t matter as you know they simply want to compete against each other, it has nothing to do with you at all.
This will definitely be an interesting time with this group. The door is opened and you are ushered in first, to jibs and jabs they give, just like normal teenage boys. Depending on how long they had been recruits, most idols focus only on debuting. Their culture also focuses on your being introduced to whom you date by a relative or a friend. This decreases the chance of being in a relationship with someone that is a complete stranger and gave a small degree of physical safety. The fact that the head of their entertainment company has given you complete access to them and the building pretty much tells them you are an approved female.
Maybe you should give them pointers for when they date in the real world.
“You okay to sit, watch?”
You smile at a different member as he offers his hand to lead me over to a bench.
You point to the front of the room where the camera and equipment are, “I don’t want to be on the film, I can push record and play?”
“Fantastic,” is his enthusiastic reply. He tucks your hand between his hand and forearm and guides you ever so gently over to the seat you requested.
Another member, this one appearing to be the maknae of the group makes sure he hands you the practice tracks and shows you where to verify the tape for recording and the track they want to start on.
You have to admit, being a single, older woman is going to definitely have its perks for the time you are going to be here. You push the buttons requested and sit back to enjoy the show that finely toned muscles and hours of practice provide. You are in for a treat as this is the day they are recording their “boyfriend” and “crazy” versions of their dance practice. Recorded dance practices for their fans showing the aegyo and silly side of the idols. You don’t know this group well enough yet, so you leave your face composed or smiling while they pull their stunts. Perhaps by the time you have everything you need for your article and book, maybe they will be comfortable enough with you that you can alter their aegyo by pulling faces back at them.
Typical to single, young adult males, they move the camera to right above your head. This means that any flirting that should have been made to the camera, is made to you but appears as the camera. You have to give them an A for effort, they are trying really hard and you feel very flattered.
The rest of the day mostly follows to the schedule, with only a few changes due to interruptions from another’s schedule or timing. You arrive back at the dorms shortly after dinner having a type of box lunch on the road. The energetic , flirty young men of the morning are still showering you with attention. Just with not as much energy due to the ending of a long day. As you are escorted by all of them to your dorm with goodbyes; mixed with the hope of you showing up on their schedule again the next day.
The week follows the schedule precisely with a few nicely placed hours where you can sight see on your own while the idols are busy. The sun is shining and inviting, the streets sparkle from an overnight rain as you decide to take your exercise in the form of a walk. You wait until after breakfast, enjoying the fact that you did not have to be at 5:00 am. This waking up at 5:00 am to use the practice rooms is beginning to take its toll on you. Many times if appearances or concerts are on the schedule, you don’t return to the dorms until after midnight. Your poor old body isn’t made for that anymore.
The air smells sweet and new as you leave the building, heading into downtown. You have several hours all to yourself and can feel the freeing of your spirit as you take time just for yourself. You peer into small shop windows, venture into one or two to buy a snack. The buildings grow larger as you wander closer to the office buildings and the center of town. After another turn, your eyes widen, and your smile grows as you look on the Seoul Museum of Art. Perfect. This had been one of your favorite places when you were here before.
The quiet, the calm, the absolute peace and beauty that surround you as you wonder through another’s imagination, has always been refreshing. There seems to be more people than you remember crowded around the entrance hall. You purchase an entrance ticket along with a pair of headphones that will speak English about the different areas. You have the music on your phone; you're all set for the next few hours. Struggling with writers block, you hope this will pry an opening for muses to return.
A few areas seemed blocked off, all the people are standing in really, really long lines that zig zag across the foyer. You shake your head at them, pitying their time stranded in a line and you turn towards "The Soul of Chun Kyung Ja," exhibit. No matter what exhibition is visiting, this one is permanently here and one of your favorites. Since everyone is out in lines, you have the exhibit pretty much to myself. You sigh in appreciation and walk over to a bench in the middle of the room. Placing earphones in your ears, you turn on music, and zone away from the world.
The size of the museum is one of the reasons it was booked for the meet and greet. His new solo mini album is in process of being released, he will be doing fan meets, appearances, variety shows, and small concerts for the next month. He has requested they look into getting the space at the museum as his latest mini album, Past and Present, had some songs about history in it. That and the fact that he could take a few minutes before and after the fan meet to unwind with some art. They lead him in through the employee’s entrance; there is not a safe way in through the front. As they pass exhibit rooms he takes a minute to glance in each. A familiar dark head makes him stop in front of the Chun Kyng Ja room. His body guards run into him as the stop was unexpected.
It can’t be. What are the chances of running into the woman from the plane here? It's decided, after his meet and greet he would be heading back to unwind there. If it is the woman from the plane and she is still there? All the better.
You’d been doing twenty minute wall splits. Sitting with my legs crossed on the bench and after twenty minutes you turn to the next wall. A few ideas have popped into your head, a direction you want one of the stories to go. It has been well worth the time spent here. You wander around a wall to the other side of the exhibit and just stand to admire one of your favorite pieces, the modern Korean. A portrait with a full face instead of side view. If you stand here long enough, staring at it deeply, you begin to think she is staring straight into your soul. You are so enraptured in the portrait that it's a shock when the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up, alerting you to someone directly behind you. Thinking yourself foolish, you spin around and crash directly into a male body. Arms come out to stop you from falling as you look up, wide eyed into the brown eyes of your fantasy from last night.
When he makes it back to the exhibit his heart falls a bit to see that she is no longer sitting on the bench. He decides he will still take in the familiar art and let himself unwind. Moments here and there are priceless and necessary in his hectically scheduled world. His favorite piece stands on the wall on the opposite side of the room. He spends a few moments looking at the simple beauty of each art piece and rounds the corner to end with his favorite. A smile spreads across his face as he finds not one beauty in the room, but two. The female he was searching for stands before his favorite piece. He silently walks up behind her to study the painting also. He doesn’t realize how close he is until she suddenly spins and lands in his arms.
Definitely the female from the airplane.