[Concert Review] Shinhwa Cements its Legendary Status with 15th Anniversary Concert
In Korean, shinhwa means legend.
But when SM Entertainment’s Lee Soo Man gave this name to six teenagers, it’s likely he never expected them to stay together for fifteen years.
But that’s what they did.
On March 16 and 17, Shinhwa celebrated its 15th birthday at its Shinhwa 15th Anniversary Concert held at the Olympic Park Gymnastics Hall in Jamsil.
Though the concert started in the early evening, fans began lining up from early in the morning in order to purchase official goods from the merchandise booths set up beside the hall. Four hours prior to the concert, the line circled around two nearby stadiums, one of which couldn’t even be seen from the main hall.
Though many fans were unable to buy goods, as they quickly sold out, fans were able to enjoy displays set up around the stadium. One featured close-to-life-size cutouts of each member and another had the history of Shinhwa and the photo memories that fans submitted, which included old concert tickets, old snack bags that Shinhwa used to endorse, a test scantron sheet with filled bubbles that spelled out the members’ names, and more.
Prior to the concert, the members held a brief press conference, where the group talked about how it planned on making the concert into a celebration. Jun Jin and Eric showed off their couple bracelets, which they got together for Shinhwa’s 15th anniversary.
On the subject of 15 years, the Shinhwa members thanked the fans who grew up with them and sent a special shout out to the fans who were coming to the concerts with their husbands and children. On the new young fans made mainly through jTBC’s Shinhwa Broadcast, Eric joked that he hoped the fans will grow quickly and become potential brides for the members.
When asked what allowed the group to stick together for fifteen years, Eric referred to photographer Zo Sun Hee’s tweet the day before that said it was consideration and letting things go that held the group. The members also directed Eric as a great leader and Min Woo as a huge support. All in all, everyone was the team player they needed to be.
“Since the first album, we never talked about how long we’ll last. I think all the members performed with our hearts set on going until the end,” said Lee Min Woo. “If we’re able to meet 20, 30th anniversaries, we won’t be able to hide our ages, but we want to say that our hearts and our energy will still be the same.”
As for the upcoming Asia Tour in June, the Shinhwa members specifically named Japan, Taiwan, and China, though more cities are expected to be added. The finale will end up back in Seoul, in August.
A reporter asked what Shinhwa will look like in the next 15 years – which means the members will be in their 50s.
On being 50, Eric stated, “If there’s one thing I hope for, I hope none of the members die. If they die, we can’t be active as Shinhwa anymore.”
The reporters laughed at the answer, but Dong Wan insisted that it’s not a laughing matter. “We destroyed our bodies when we were young, so we have to take care of ourselves even better now. If we have a concert when we’re 50, we hope a lot of fans will still come.”
Eric added, “Min Woo once said that if he dies, he wants to die on the stage. But he shouldn’t die on the stage. I hope we can perform for a really long time with healthy conditions.”
Regarding their fantastic new hairstyles, the members admitted the concept was chosen to make them look younger. Min Woo started the hair dyeing first in December with gray and the members slowly followed, though Dong Wan remained the exception because of his drama. Hye Sung added their new styles also provide entertainment for the fans and asked that everyone accept it because they focused a lot on it.
One of the highlights of the press conference was when Dong Wan took the microphone and told Min Woo that there were three things he couldn’t hide: poverty, sneezing, and love. Because the joke was so random and so lame, the other members and all the reporters in the room scowled, making Hye Sung remark that reporters have never grimaced upfront before.
The members ended the press conference shortly after, exited to prepare for the highlight of the night – the stage.
All 25,000 seats of the huge arena were filled, with almost everyone holding up an orange glow stick of some kind. The members of 100% and Stellar were also in the audience to support their bosses, Andy and Eric.
Soon, the light grew dim, the orange glowed brighter, and it was time to start the show.
The concert began with a video that highlighted all of Shinhwa’s greatest hits, until the Shinhwa members appeared on stage with Only One, a song that was most requested by fans for Shinhwa to perform. Only One was followed up by Your Man, a song that came out six years after.
For every song from the early days of Shinhwa, a song from recent times followed, allowing fans to have the best of both worlds - a ride blasting everyone from the past to the present.
“Before for Only One, we used to take off our shirts, but we didn’t this time,” said Min Woo, after greeting the fans. “At the 20th anniversary concert, we will.”
Shinhwa continued with Chun Il Yoo Hon, Hey Come On, Free, You’re My Everything, Gido, How Do I Say, and Be My Love.
In between performances, special videos of highlighting social events from 1998 until 2013 played, allowing old fans to reminisce the past and young fans to learn what went on since Shinhwa was born. The crowd laughed seeing old items, such as walkmans, the famous Fin.K.L bread, while idol stars of the first generation, such as Baby V.O.X’s Shim Eun Jin, H.O.T’s Kangta, and 1TYM’s Baekkyung and Oh Jin Wan, appeared on the screen, sharing their experience with those times. SHINee members even made a surprise cameo, talking about how Jong Hyun used a beeper when he was even younger while the other members were impressed by that small fact.
The members returned to the stage to interact with the fans. They asked which fans came with their boyfriends or husbands, and quite a few people screamed and raised their hands. Shinhwa began talking about MBC’s Dad! Where We Are Going and Min Woo commented that he’s in love with Yoon Hoo at the moment, leading into the conversation of Shinhwa’s future children, which caused laughter in the hall as the members made fun of each other’s unborn children.
With such a trend going on, it was impossible for the Shinhwa members to avoid the Giyomi Player. Hye Sung kicked it off, doing the original version with the cutest expressions, but when Eric took the stage, he started off with a cool dance until he was on the floor, swinging his legs in the air adorably.
With fans chanting each member’s names, Andy did an exaggerated version of his signature heart dance, while Kim Dong Wan focused more on playful expressions that had the Shinhwa members kicking him to make him stop. Jun Jin gave up as soon as he began, and Min Woo was overflowing with aegyo.
At a certain point, the members addressed the audience, getting every single person in the hall to stand on their feet and help them perform. Shinhwa taught the fans a simple dance routine and asked that everyone dance together. Stay began playing and the members, now in their mid-30s began performing what appeared to be the cutest choreography, which was later joined by the audience during the chorus.
The energy continued with Eusha Eusha, making the chairs bounce back and forth as the song ended with Min Woo organizing 25,000 fans to jump at the same time.
A second video began to play, this time focusing on the Shinhwa members and Shinhwa Company. Eric talked about how he’s a good director for the group’s upcoming album and the members really like him. However, a second later, the video showed Hye Sung complaining about Eric as the director, continued with Eric finding out that someone’s been hating on him from behind his back. “Who? Hye Sung?”
The video led to the next performance as the members talked about a special song that helped Shinhwa get to where it was, and the hall began to fill with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the members performed T.O.P, the song that brought them their first win just as they were ready to quit in 1999.
Perfect Man and Shooting Star were next, completely rearranged from the original version, spiking up the energy level.
Dong Wan kicked off another talk session by asking who needs to go the bathroom. He was received with an overwhelming response.
The members began talking about future schedules to come, such as the new album in April, and Min Woo commented that he hopes none of the members will get hurt, leading into Hye Sung’s knee injury in 2012.
Min Woo began talking about a special heart dance, which then led to screams for Hye Sung’s famous ‘crab dance’ – but before he could display his old skills, Eric interrupted with a ballet move. Hye Sung eventually delivered, and was joined by all the Shinhwa members, in what may be Hye Sung’s most iconic dance.
The humorous mood subsided as the atmosphere became softer in the arena as the Shinhwa members began to sweetly serenade with Angel.
When the song was over, a giant sheer veil fell from the top of the main stage in front of the members. Hurts began to play as the lyrics beautifully swirled around the veil, perfectly accenting the member’s emotional voices. Hurts by far was the best performance of the night.
Shinhwa’s debut song, Haegyulsah (The Solver) began to play, quickly followed by On the Road.
The final video was a more personal one as it showed Shinhwa’s journey through the years: all of their hit songs, first concerts, Andy leaving the group, leaving SM Entertainment together, receiving their first daesang after six long years, going to the army, and returning to the open arms of fans. The video ended with a thank you for Shinhwa Changjo, Shinhwa’s fanclub, who stuck by Shinhwa for the past 15 years.
Shinhwa appeared on stage with female dancers, immediately signaling two significant songs in Shinhwa’s career - Venus, the song that Shinhwa ended its four year hiatus with, and Brand New, the song they won their first daesang with.
When the cheers subsided, Shinhwa finally announced that the concert was coming to end. The fans began to whine, when Hye Sung remarked, “But that means you were having so much fun that you didn’t know time was passing by.”
Each member began saying their good-bye messages, thanking fans for the support for the past 15 years. “We hope that for the next 20, 30 years, we’ll be together like this,” said the members. “We want to thank the fans one more time for making it possible to be here today.”
The members disappeared from the stage as the fans patiently waited for the next song.
Suddenly, six side stages started moving around the arena, as Once in a Lifetime began to play. One by one, the members popped up from each stage, surprising the fans in the upper levels, allowing them to see Shinhwa up close. The moving stages met at the back of the arena, where the Shinhwa members faced the fans and continued with First Love.
Shinhwa ended the stage and disappeared underneath, which immediately prompted loud chants of ‘encore’ and ‘Shinhwa san,’ as fans waited for Shinhwa to appear.
What felt like an eternity passed by until Min Woo addressed the fans backstage, explaining that the members are so old now that they’re taking longer to dress up. He began narrating what each member was doing, sweetly talking to the fans, and once again proclaiming what a special existence the fans are to the group and Shinhwa will do whatever it can to be there for Shinhwa Changjo.
Ready to party with the encore, Shinhwa reappeared in the back as the members sang, I Pray 4 U, traveling back to the front on the special moving stages. Run was next as the members started splashing each other and the fans with water bottles and throwing their sweaters into the crowds.
A sudden dance competition began with the members busting impressive break dance moves (although Dong Wan did reach for his back after his turn) and quickly transitioned into Yo!.
When the end of Yo! came, the members and dancers gave their final bow.
Since it was their 15th birthday, the Shinhwa members asked the fans to sing them the birthday song, and soon the entire arena was wishing Shinhwa a happy birthday.
Just as it seemed like Shinhwa would finally exit the stage, the members began walking to each of the stages, bowing to the fans. After the last of the last farewells, the Shinhwa members lingered but finally left the stage, making hearts with each other, leaving the fans still cheering and applauding for a job well done.
The Shinhwa concert ran an impressive three and a half hours, full of energetic performances that had the fans roaring in excitement. There was not a moment to lose as each member did his own thing, and yet the fans hung onto every word and action, perhaps now used to Shinhwa’s randomness.
It seemed almost impossible to fit fifteen years into one concert, but Shinhwa somehow did it.
Yes, the members may have not been as synced as they were in their youth and they were a lot more careful with certain stunts that they did before, but the energy and passion to perform for its fans were still there and that’s all that was needed.
Shinhwa is truly a legend, and that’s not just because it’s the longest running idol group in the history of K-Pop. There’s a reason why so many idol groups, such as Big Bang, Super Junior, and Girls’ Generation, have all said they wanted to become like Shinhwa.
Just as they said in the press conference, the Shinhwa members learned to share everything they had, further strengthening their friendship. It was the trust that allowed the members to stay together until now, and as the bromance thickened, so did the relationship with the fans, allowing Shinhwa this opportunity to perform on the stage, even as people called them out on their ages.
In reality, Shinhwa has moved past the stage where public opinion actually matters.
The group is doing its own thing, still creating dreams and walking forward to achieve them and age hasn’t been a roadblock and so, the legend continues.
Photo Credit: Grace Hong, Jin Chun Lan, Shinhwa Company