I have made it my mission to see Sonamoo at least once every time they have promotions. I want to have a complete collection of their signed albums, much in the way we have ended up with the full discography of Boys Republic works by way of constantly attending events for them. In doing so, however, I picked up a little side-quest along the way. During their last round of promotions I promised my favorite member, Euijin, that I would draw her in an updated form under their most recent promotional image. This was after giving her a piece of fan art which she really enjoyed and praised afterward, asking for another piece going forward. Having made this a face-to-face promise and having missed my chance at the early fansign I’d gone to for this round of promotions it meant I would have to see them a second time this round. Since the first signing I wrapped up my artwork, printed it out on crisp card stock, and was fully prepped for another shot at Sonamoo.
Unfortunately the group was only a week from wrapping up promotions entirely and their only manageable fan signing was all the way in Incheon. Since this is outside of Seoul to the west and we are in the northeastern corner of the Seoul residential district it meant almost a two-hour transit out to the signing venue. Luckily the Incheon signings often have the option to order your albums by way of text-and-bank-transfer, so you don’t have to travel to the other side of the city just to grab an album for the weekend’s signing event. This meant we would only have to make a single round-trip out to Incheon instead of two and it made the event far more reasonable. Either way it didn’t matter to me, it just meant I had a two-hour trip during which to get more and more excited to meet up with Euijin again. It was a long, long, long bit of travel but when we got off at the Incheon Bus Terminal stop and exited the subway we started to see familiar sights right away. There was a huge Daiso which we recognized from a signing a while ago with the boys. We had purchased little dinky dollar store gifts for all of them there and knew this was a venue we had seen before. I also remembered the Shinsegae Department Store that was hosting the event. It was a labyrinth and didn’t seem to have escalators connected to each other at sensible locations, so we had to wander around in the B1 floor, find an escalator up to 1F, then wander yet again until we could find another set of escalators going to the fifth floor. The cultural hall on this floor, an auditorium style stage room we recognized from previous signings, would be our final destination.
Jessy and I showed up at the little booth they had set up outside the hall and collected our albums. I got the green one again and Jessy got the white/pink one (they printed two color schemes for their albums) because we couldn’t remember which ones we had already gotten. We also picked up one of each kind of poster for this album, meaning I would finally have a poster of Sonamoo! All the other albums didn’t come with one at the places I bought the albums for them so I didn’t have any posters of this group yet. It was kind of unfortunate since they shot up to my highest ranking favorites in all of Korea shortly after their debut. Newly equipped with our merchandise and little lanyards proclaiming our randomly-drawn seat numbers (kinda neat – they usually just use tickets) we proceeded into the hall and took our seats. Jessy ended up right in front again, seated slightly off to the right in seat #9. I was seated near an aisle a few rows up in seat #56, though my vision wasn’t obstructed at all since the auditorium-style seating tiers left a clear line of sight to the entire stage.
I rushed to label my album with post-its and tried to get everything squared away before the event started. I was either too slow or I had underestimated the time remaining before the start. Sumin came prancing out onto the stage without any warning and the crowd started to cheer. I looked up from my album thinking “What? What’s happening? What am I missing!?” and noticed Sumin literally skipping around on the stage and waving to everyone. She was followed by Minjae after a short while and they kind of played around on stage for a bit. They were there way ahead of the other members so they started joking that this was a special fan signing and only those two members would be there. The other members soon came out from behind a curtain off to the side and joined them behind the table. They did their official greeting, commenced the signing, and I had an opportunity to catch up with my post-its.
I noticed Euijin saw me pretty quickly because she waved up to my spot. Nahyun did as well and I actually noticed a ton of attention from her whenever there was free time. NewSun was also very very attentive as well. Literally half of my pictures of her were direct eye-contact shots where she did some sort of pose for me. I’m not sure if it was because I was the only one she noticed taking pictures consistently in her direction or if I just stood out somehow. I honestly don’t know what her level of popularity is compared to the other members.
There was a lot of fun going on behind that table before it was my turn. D.Ana got a little Finn (Adventure Time) hand warmer and was insistent on opening it up and playing with it. She couldn’t seem to figure out the shrink-wrap coating, though. Fan manager tried to get it for her, she tried herself numerous times, but it wasn’t until she’d gone through a couple dozen fans that she finally broke through the high-tech force field holding this thing prisoner. She was so pleased with herself once she got it out, though. She put it on her arm and started bouncing it on the table, punching the air, and poking it’s stuffed face over and over. She had this happy baby face on the whole time. It was adorable.
Euijin was very demure today. She seemed to be presenting herself as super ladylike and elegant – moreso than usual, anyway. She was less derpy and more classy. She tends to flip-flop between the two fairly seamlessly. I noticed that all the members seemed really tired and some of them were acting a little sleep-deprived-drunkey because of it. MinJae especially – she was being a giant silly goof and kept laughing with half-lidded eyes at everything. They were doing a good job of powering through things but you could tell they were all really sleepy.
Jessy’s turn came around well before mine, I was still writing my Post-Its when she took her turn with the girls. Being among the first to go up though, she ended up getting very little time with each member. Somehow though, she had managed to finish her post-it questions before it was her turn. Looking back on it though, she knows she made mistakes with how she asked the question, and this came through in several of her interactions. Guess that’s what you get for not having enough time to check what you want to write first. Oh well. Sumin greeted her excitedly, in proper Sumin fashion, and noticed her post-it question almost immediately. Jessy had asked which member she would date if she was a man. Sumin found it hilarious, looked down the table as if appraising her members, and finally wrote Nahyun, still laughing. She then passed Jessy on to Minjae with a big high five and thank you.
Minjae of course went all in on speaking English. They went through some niceties, and eventually Minjae asked Jessy what she was doing here in Korea. Jessy told her that she teaches English, and Minjae got super excited and said that her mom teaches English too. No wonder she’s pretty good at it! They exclaimed over this for a moment, before Minjae addressed Jessy’s post-it. She also laughed and wrote down Nahyun without much though, saying it’s because she’s fun.
Time to move on to Nahyun herself. Strangely enough, she also decided to start things off in English this time. It’s a bit odd for Nahyun, since she really doesn’t seem to know much. It was rather amusing too since she was basically just saying random words, “Hello! Oh~~ sexy!” etc. Very quickly she started laughing like crazy at Jessy’s post-it. It took her a moment to decide on her answer, but she ended up writing down Minjae (and that the question was hilarious). Jessy then told her that Minjae had written her name down as well, so she turned to the page to check before turning to Minjae and having a small freakout-fest, probably confusing the crap out of the fan talking to Minjae at the time.
Jessy moved along to D.Ana in the midst of all this. Her fan had already moved along, and she was investigating what all the commotion was with Nahyun and Minjae. So when Jessy moved over she pretty much immediately started in on the post-it question, laughing her head off just like all the rest. She decided at first to write her own name down, very enthusiastically. She then as a sidenote, added Sumin, as a good choice as well. She then ended up checking on Jessy’s age, and adding Unnie to her name before sending her on her way.
Euijin’s turn. She ended up being the most confused by how Jessy had written her question, and it took a good amount of explaining before she got it. When she did though, she couldn’t stop giggling. She ended up choosing Nahyun as well, so Jessy told her that a bunch of members were choosing Nahyun. She got a bit fake-huffy about that (probably because they weren’t choosing her) but then laughed and said it’s because Nahyun is very fun and energetic. She then signed Jessy’s photocard of her before sending her along to Hi.D.
She greeted Jessy very excitedly, probably since, as we’ve mentioned before, she seems to remember Jessy the most. Hi.D thanked Jessy for coming back to see them, and also said that she should come even more often. She stumbled a bit with Jessy’s post-it question, but eventually decided on New Sun. She then went poking her nose at what all the other members wrote down, exclaiming over how popular Nahyun was, and just generally giggling about the question. Very quickly, it was time to move along with another request for Jessy to come see them more and a high five.
New Sun came last, also greeting Jessy excitedly. She told Jessy that she remembered her coming previously, thanked her, and told her to come even more. She then quickly addressed Jessy’s post-it. She looked around at the other members a bit before deciding on Nahyun as well, with a laugh. With a final high five, Jessy was sent on her way back to her seat.
A good chunk of fans got their shot and I snapped off a ton of pictures before it was my turn. I handed off my lanyard to the staffer taking them and went right up to Sumin. She had no idea who I was again so a lot of what was said was the usual first-time-meeting-a-foreign-fan stuff. She was again shocked that I knew Korean and commented on it. I in turn commented on her shirt, which I really liked. It was a floofy, puffy-armed poet’s shirt and I said she looked like a pirate. I don’t know if she took that as a good or a bad thing, she had an unreadable response. She finished signing the album and handed it back, but MinJae was taking a really long time with the fan in front of me. As a result, I ended up looking back at Sumin and we both had a moment of “All right, so this is happening, now.” It was really awkward. I was actually quite content but I could tell Sumin was scrambling for something to fill the silence. I’m completely comfortable in silences during conversations but I know a lot of people aren’t. Honestly I would have been completely content to just keep looking into her eyes for the rest of my time – Sumin has super beautiful giant doe eyes. She ended up asking if I had eaten and I told her I hadn’t because I was on the subway. Then she asked where I came from and when I said Nowon she kind of gasped. At that point I was ready to move on to MinJae so we had to cut things off a little abruptly. Timing just didn’t work with Sumin that day, I suppose.
MinJae knew who I was immediately but it was a little confusing. She referred to me as the one who comes to see them “often,” and when I said that wasn’t the case she got really confused. She asked if it was my first time seeing them then and I also said no. I then had to explain that I didn’t see them as often as I’d like because I work too much, which was mostly true. Things seemed to make more sense to her at this point. She did recognize me, I just didn’t agree with that “often” part. Then she asked how long I had been in Korea and I said 4 years, to which she gasped a little. I told her I was living in Nowon and she wanted to know when I planned to go back to the states. I told her I had no idea. We then exchanged compliments about each others’ language skills. Today was the first time Minjae didn’t absolutely insist on using English, so she was able to speak more freely than usual and it was a lot more comfortable for me, too. Despite this, she still remains the best English language user of the group. I told her as much and she denied all charges. I told her that even her pronunciation is really natural and she even blushed a little at that. I feel like none of them are confident with their English ability at all so maybe I hit on a point of pride for MinJae.
D.Ana was next. I’m a little doubtful about whether she remembered me or not. It could go either way with her and she didn’t do or say anything that would give it away one way or another. She did check on how long I had been in Korea and how long I intended on staying. She also wow-ed tremendously at the distance I had traversed to be there that day. As soon as I mentioned living in Nowon her jaw dropped and just stuck there. Then she went on about how that was so far and it must have taken hours. She had trouble believing that I was OK with traveling that far just to come see their group. She told me I needed to go home and rest because I must be tired after the long trip. She signed my album, the only member to write 오빠 after my name (which I actually really hate, but she’d have no way of knowing that and it’s usually supposed to be a really good thing. I appreciated the gesture considering she’d have no way of knowing being “Oppa’d” makes me uncomfortable). She also signed my photocard without my even asking – I had gotten hers in the album this time.
There wasn’t any doubt that Nahyun remembered me this time and she seemed really excited when I approached her. She is sort of the hyperactive and bubbly member of the group though so this wasn’t anything unique or special. She also asked about the commute to come here and also wanted to know about my plans to go back to the states, if there were any. She seemed really excited about me wanting to stay and said I need to come see them all the time if I am going to be in Korea. She paused for an awkward moment before deciding what she wanted to write in my album and then she decided on “So thank U!” before signing her name. I giggled inwardly at her awkward English but couldn’t bring myself to correct her. She seemed so proud of herself as she called out the words while writing them over her picture.
I had been waiting for this conversation for a long time, and Euijin recalled me with zero effort. That was what all this was for, after all. I’m even wondering a little if she is starting to remember me by name, since she referred to me directly really early in the conversation. It’s possible she looked down at the post-it on my album, but I don’t remember her doing so. If she did she was really smooth about it. Anyway, I told her I had made a new picture for her and pulled it out of the little envelope I had brought it in. I gave it over to her and she spent a short while taking it in and commenting on how she liked it and how it looked really good. I explained how last time I couldn’t give her the picture because I needed to finish it and she more or less forgave the delay. She was asking about how I drew the pictures. I told her it was a combination of pencil and digital coloring, since I have a tablet I can use for drawing on a computer (I was really proud of myself for doing all of this in Korean, by the way and she was, as always, so patient with me). I asked her how I should draw the picture next time and I think I must have worded it awkwardly. She rephrased it in a way that made no sense to me, to check if that was what I was asking. It’s actually the first time she corrected my Korean, which I appreciate so much. I hate when people let mistakes slide just for the sake of a smooth conversation. How else am I supposed to learn? I tried again and she pointed to a picture of herself in the album, with a smile and a wink as I moved on. I guess it doesn’t matter to her how I draw her, as long as I am drawing her and not abandoning her for the other members. I don’t think there is any worry of that happening, Euijin!
I was weirdly excited when talking to Hi.D. because she actually remembered me for once! Literally every conversation I have had with this girl has been a carbon copy of the last. She would ask if it was the first time I had come to see them and I’d tell her I’ve been around since debut. She would ask if I’d eaten yet (which she still did, but it was mostly because she was hungry and food was on her mind) and I would usually say no. I did so again this time and told her it was because of travel, but I said I would grab something to eat after the signing. She seemed appeased by this explanation and sent me on my way after she finished signing inside the book. She actually wrote “Thanks for coming to see us again” in Korean as well. I was so proud of her for finally remembering me!
NewSun was, as usual, last up. She also remembered me – in fact, the first words out of her mouth were “Hey, I remember you!” in English as she pointed at me. It’s a little less surprising with her since at most of the signings I actually had a ton of interaction time with her. She seems the least comfortable with English of all of them and is a little hesitant to venture forward with Korean even if I say it’s OK. It’s like she didn’t believe me or something. This time that wasn’t the case and we could actually chat a little bit. I eventually asked her what she wanted to do if she wasn’t a singer and she said she would be a producer instead. I had wondered if that was the case at other events but never thought to ask until now. I wished her luck and she thanked me for coming. I told her I would learn even more Korean to talk to her more next time and she laughed as I walked back to my chair.
The remainder of the signing was super entertaining. They were all kind of punch-drunk from promotions and were acting super goofy all night. NewSun was a pose maniac and always seemed to know when my camera was trained on her for the rest of the night. Since she was at the end and tends to have very little to say she often had spare time with no fans in front of her. MinJae was also a giant ham, but that’s more naturally her style. Euijin was less derpy and more demure than usual that night, and she came off as super girly and more elegant than usual. I’m not sure what I think of that yet, I just know she looked good overall.
Eventually they got to the point where they had free talking time with the fans and MinJae and Sumin kept embarrassing themselves by trying to say things in absolutely awful English. MinJae tried singing parts of “Orange Cappucino,” one of their non promotional tracks from their new album. It’s actually the first song they’ve released I can do without, but the girls seem to absolutely love it (Nahyun especially, she dances along like a fool to it) and it seems to resonate really well with domestic fans. It’s a giant metaphor for a girl thinking a guy is sugary sweet like a syrupy cappuccino drink and how they want to drink them up with a straw. If you think that sounds a little awkward, imagine MinJae sitting there going “Oh yeah, so tasty, so sweet, delicious yum yum boy” while Sumin giggles incessantly. NewSun eventually saw Jessy laughing her head off at their antics and called out “Hey, there are foreigners here! What do you think you are doing?” MinJae and Sumin got all embarrassed and apologized, though we were still just laughing and waved it off. There was a moment for Japanese fans later when they tried to get Hi.D to sing something from an anime she likes. She said some things in Japanese but this part was lost on me altogether. There was a ton of language play and a lot of sprawling around on the table between poses. We could tell the girls wanted to rest, though when it finally came time for bow-outs Euijin literally danced her way off the stage. She was the only one who seemed wide awake at the end of the event.
Hopefully they had the opportunity to get home and get some shut-eye. With about two hours of transit ahead of us, chasing the last trains home across all of Seoul, we were looking forward to some of the same. My artwork was well-delivered and well-received and I returned to Nowon with a sense of Mission: Accomplished.