I was at Shopee’s Blackpink fan meet. This is what went down.

There are times when being a fan can be frustrating when tickets for the concert you’ve been anticipating get sold out within minutes, or when you invest so much time, money, and effort for your favorite group, only for that to go to waste.

Last Thursday, Blackpink stans (‘Blinks’ for the initiated) weren’t just frustrated. They were angry and out for blood.

That day, #ShopeeScam climbed onto Twitter’s Worldwide Trends list, making the issue grow. Since video recording wasn’t allowed during the event, some rumors were spread about .  

I was there, so here’s a blow by blow account of what really went down.

Posters said the event would start at 5 p.m., but organizers communicated that it’d start at 6 p.m. By 6, Samsung Hall was already filled with Blinks, lightsticks and Shopee clappers in tow. They were playing Blackpink’s entire discography (minus the other songs from “Kill This Love” on loop.

On the ground floor is the Black area, with the top spenders in the middle column, and celebrities and influencers at the rightmost side. I spot some known celebrity Blinks: the Kramer kids (cosplaying as the Pinks), Awra Briguela, A.C. Bonifacio, and Anne and Jasmine Curtis among the crowd. On the balcony is the Orange area, with other lucky fans who won the e-commerce platform’s contests and a row for the media.

Energy is high at first. The crowd goes along with the fanchants and shouts the English parts of the songs, but as an hour goes by, everyone is starting to get antsy. Over the loudspeakers, we’re told that video recording and livestreaming aren’t allowed which, to be fair, is a common guideline that Korean entertainment agencies give to event promoters as a way to regulate the content that is posted.  

An hour and 30 minutes later, host Kring Kim (vlogger and founder of the Philippine K-Pop Convention) appears on stage to show Blackpink’s Shopee TVC on the LED screen, before leading a round of fanchants to the DDU-DU DDU-DU and Kill This Love music videos. The crowd is going wild for both songs, though they’re noticeably louder for Kill This Love.

Kring reminds everyone of the recording guidelines before launching into the welcome spiel for the girl group’s entrance. Blackpink enters, with Rosé first, followed by Jennie, Lisa, and Jisoo.  

Jennie looks kind of uncomfortable right off the bat, like she’s having a hard time breathing. Kring asks them questions that are then translated (it’s still unclear who requested for the translator’s presence, though it’s also a standard for K-Pop events regardless of whether or not any of the members are fluent in English).

When Kring asks about their experience back in the Philippines so far, Jennie answers in Korean: “We are so happy to be here because of you guys. We missed you.”

Lisa also seems chirpy, saying “It’s our second time in the Philippines and I realize how welcoming you guys are,” also in Korean.

At one point, Jennie looks short of breath and Kring asks her if she’s okay. She says yes, and Jisoo hands her a water bottle from the table behind them.

After the interview, they pick some of the winners of the raffle for signed merch. The next part of the program is the fansign, which was supposed to happen right after the interview, but the girls quickly exit the stage. Some people speculate that Jennie had a panic attack, but this was never confirmed. Kring stalls by playing the MVs and fanchant accompaniment videos from earlier, but at this point no one is cheering. The person beside me notices the lull as well, “Natulala ang mga fans,” probably because they didn’t expect it would go by so fast.

A few minutes later, Blackpink returns onstage to do the fansign. The already hushed audience is again reminded of the no recording rule and is also told to “calm down”. Like with other Korean fansigns, the meet-&-greet winners are instructed to put their cellphones in their bags and leave their bags at their seats.

Upon their return on stage, the Pinks are cheery. As each winner goes up on stage to have their Shopee poster signed, they keep smiling and giving us the fanservice that’s typical at these kinds of events. Rosé takes the time to talk to each fan, but is mostly focused on signing. Lisa and Jisoo are at the end of the line, so there are times where they bust into the choreo of the songs that are playing. At one point, they make a heart. Lisa even smiles at a fan who’s holding a picture of her two cats. Jennie seems to be feeling better, too. She gives fans wide smiles as she signs their posters.

Everything was going pretty smoothly at this point. Celebrities stayed in their seats (none of them go up on stage for the fansign). Once all the winners went through, the girls thank the fans and Shopee and exit the stage. K-Pop cover dancer Dasuri Choi performs a DDU-DU DDU-DU remix.

With the fansign part, the whole thing lasts for about an hour. A lot of the rumors going around were exaggerated, of the host being rude — she wasn’t, at most she was handling the crowd reaction pretty well, or of a fan spilling water on Lisa I saw this happen, but it was purely an accident and Lisa was quick to tell the fan it was okay.  

Spending tens and hundreds of thousands of pesos just to see your idols isn’t anything new in K-Pop fandom, but fans expect to get what they paid for. While it was strange that there was no performance like at their Jakarta event (Shopee didn’t promise one, though), I felt that the meet-&-greet itself was typical of a brand-sponsored fanmeet with a Korean talent. Many people don’t know that events like these have plenty of moving parts  factor in the agency’s requests and contract stipulations.   

All the members posted after the fanmeet to assure fans that they were okay. Rosé even did an Instagram Live after the event in her usual bubbly spirits. Then again, we can never really know what the artists were really feeling.

Right now, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is investigating the promo mechanics after multiple complaints were filed against Shopee. Here’s to hoping that the fans get what they’re due.

In summary, everything leading up to the meet-&-greet was A Mess, but the event itself didn’t go as badly as some people made it out to be. For now, here’s one lesson to everyone who dares: never mess with K-Pop stans.

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