Fansigns are one of the many things that international K-Pop fans envy from their Korean counterparts. The only opportunity for international fans to really get face-to-face with their favorites is at hi-touches. Those brief moments give way to a wave of emotions that leave you feeling shook for hours afterwards.
Fansigns, on the other hand, are another ball game. You are in a room with 100 other fans vying for the opportunity to be with each member for a few minutes. You get to introduce yourself and say things to them you have only dreamed of being able to say to their faces.
The process of getting into a fansign is a mystery for international fans, and when I first started trying it was a mystery to me, too. But I am going to break it down for you so that when you come to Korea, you can try for yourself!
The Basics of a Fansign
How to Know a Fansign is Happening
The first place to always look for fansign postings are the fancafes. That is usually the first place they are posted. The next place is social media. JYP Entertainment idol groups often tweet about when and where they are going to do a signing. The last place to look are the different stores around the area you will be staying. A common store that hosts fansigns is Synnara Record, which has locations all over South Korea.
The Types of Fansigns: Lottery vs. First-Come-First-Serve
The one thing that everyone knows about fansigns is that the artist signs the album you bought for the event. However, not everyone gets the opportunity to meet their idols face-to-face.
The most common form of a fansign is the lottery. The lottery is where every album you buy gives you one entry into the drawing. Most fansigns only allow 100 people to attend so the more albums, the better chance you have. However, the number of albums you buy to guarantee a spot can vary. Some have gotten in with one or two albums, others have purchased 100 or more albums and weren't given a chance. The chance is truly random. But the general rule is that the more albums you buy, the better chance you have.
This one is not as common with groups, but more so with solo artists. With this type of fansign, you will be given entry if you are one of the first people to buy the album. This type of signing is often limited to 100 people as well.
This is honestly the tricky part when determining the number of albums to buy. Most times you have to buy more than one album to have a fighting chance at attending a fansign. If you are trying for a rookie group, it's usually a much smaller number of albums. I purchased 10 albums for the most recent Stray Kids fansign in Busan, keeping in mind they are a team that is less than a year old and is still considered a rookie group in South Korea, despite their massive growth in popularity. The fansign was also the second to last one for this promotion period. Much more popular groups like NCT, EXO, or even BTS would require insane amounts of albums to even have a fighting chance. To put this into an easier perspective, the 10 albums I bought to attend the Stray Kids signing cost about 160,000 won, or around $150 USD. Be prepared to break the bank if you are trying to see your favorites. My tip is to browse the assigned store a little bit and see how many others are purchasing the albums to give yourself an estimate before actually buying. Once you purchase your albums, you will have to give the store your name, email, phone number, and birthday on a sheet where they will mark how many albums you purchased. Some stores will also have you fill out tiny slips for every album you bought. These slips are how the winners are chosen.
This is often the part that everyone dreads. Those who are selected from the lottery will be listed as winners on the website of the store. Of course, information is censored from the general public to protect the privacy of the winners. But, if you are like me and are too impatient to wait, you will find yourself constantly refreshing page until the winners post is visible.
Okay You’re in...Now What?
Cue the internal panic. You are going to meet your favorites up close and personal, hold their hands, and tell them everything you ever wanted in the span of 90 seconds for each member. First things first, pick your album type. Often idols will release multiple versions of an album each comeback. Once you choose the version, you have to pick the pictures you want the members to sign and mark on with a post-it note or a tab. This way the members can find themselves fast and you don’t waste any time flipping through the pages when you want to give them all the attention. Next, double and triple check the location of the fansign and the time. You want to be there at least 30 minutes early to be able to select your seat and to get settled in before the idol group arrives.
Another thing to do is to prepare what you want to say or give them. You can bring them name signs and plushies and headbands for them to play with, though most of the time these things are returned to you at the end of the signing. Other things you can do is prepare sticky notes with questions inside the albums—but make sure they are quick and appropriate questions. The one things idols can take with them are fan letters, so prepare these as well.
The day has arrived! Make sure to pack everything you need for the day. Things that are a must-have are your cellphone, the album, and your passport! You will need this for them to identify you as a winner for the fansign. Other things for you to consider are portable batteries for your cell phone, your camera, and some sort of mints and hand lotion. The last two are because you will sit less than six inches away from your idols and they will grab for your hands. You want to look and feel your best today!
When you arrive you will be asked to show your ID and then be given a chance to pick your seat. For the most recent signing I attended, I drew out from a set of lanyards that I had to wear for for the duration of the signing. I was the 60th person at the Stray Kids signing. Once everyone draws their seat numbers and gets settled, the idols will enter! There will often be an opening comment and some playful banter before it begins. It can be hard to wait your turn, but it is worth it!
Before your Turn
A staff member will check your album and any belongings that you bring to the stage. You are NOT by any means allowed to bring your cell phone or camera to the stage, as well as anything that could be dangerous or harmful to the idols. Listen to any instructions that the staff give you as it is their job to keep you and the members safe, and ensure it stays fun for everyone.
Oh...I didn’t Think I Would Get This Far… AKA Your Turn!
Enjoy every moment of this. It’s okay to be nervous or excited or just starstruck. The members are just as excited to see you. They rarely see international fans at signings so they are often just as excited. They will try their best to make you feel comfortable and chat with you. Have fun with it! Be silly, tell them everything you have ever wanted to tell them, and be respectful to the staff and to the other fans around you. Staff will ask you to move on after about a minute, although you want to stay and chat, you want other people to have a turn with the members as well. Make sure you spend quality time with each member. Once you are finished, you will return to your seat.
After the Signing
You spent precious moments with each member and now you are back and settled into your seat. If you have a smaller number you will have a long time to wait after the signing; enjoy this time by talking to people around you and taking pictures. When the members finish signing albums for everyone, they will come out and play with the fans. They will do things like sing songs, interact with each other, and play games. The activities can vary from fansign to fansign.
Overall, just enjoy the whole experience. You are getting an opportunity a lot of international fans could only dream of...now you just have to save money for the next comeback and fansign.