My South Korea Summer Festival and Concert Experiences

My Experience Attending Free Summer Concerts in South Korea

I fulfiled my dream of watching a K-pop performance live — without spending a fortune!

If you’ve ever been to a concert, you’ll understand that it is an experience a studio recording can never replicate. The live vocals and instrumentals, combined with a whole venue of fans cheering in unison. Not to forget the life-changing moment when your idol makes his grand entrance. That’s right, this person really does exist! 

The only things that may set you back are the exorbitant ticket prices and the challenge of securing tickets during the sales period. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go through those when I attended a show at a South Korea summer festival and another K-pop concert in Seoul. This happened while I was on a month-long university summer program in the Land of Morning Calm.

Going to these concerts was the best decision I’d ever made. What’s more, I didn’t have to pay a single cent! Read on to find out more about my concert experience in South Korea, as well as tips on finding these free concerts!

Also read: 20 Stunning Hanoks in South Korea You Can Book on Airbnb

My South Korea summer festival experience

A travel buddy of mine found out about the concert through social media and was bent on seeing the Korean hip-hop artist, Loco, on stage. She eventually convinced me to go, even though I was not too keen on sweating it out at a crowded park. That was how I ended up at the Daegu Chimac Festival 2022.

What is the Daegu Chimac Festival?

Daegu, the third-largest city in South Korea, is where the annual Daegu Chimac Festival has been held for the past 10 years. The whole festival lasts for about five days in July. Now, you might be asking, why Daegu? This city has been spearheading the development of Korean chicken products since the late 20th century, with popular homegrown chicken brands like Mexican Chicken (formerly Gyeseong Chicken) and Kyochon Chicken.

Since Koreans love to indulge in chimaek (chicken and beer), a whole festival with over 200 fried chicken and beer booths is like a match made in heaven. To beat the heat, the event even has booths where you can soak your feet in cold water while munching on these juicy and tender bits. 

So yes, this is primarily a food festival. But, performances are also a large part of attracting crowds and livening up the atmosphere — the highlight of a South Korea summer festival!

Before the concert

After a two-hour ride on the Korean Train Express (KTX) from Seoul, we arrived in Daegu. It was unfortunate that it started pouring and our plans of having some chimaek before the concert started were dashed. As the rain died down, we hopped onto a cab to Duryu Park, the event venue. There was only one word to describe what I saw at the entrance: crowds. 

As this is a free festival, people from all over South Korea and even tourists flock over, leading to some massive human traffic. Fortunately, there were policemen to guide people into the park and manage the crowd. 

The concert experience

daegu chimac festival, korea summer festival

The stage at Duryu Park.

Thankfully, we arrived at the venue in time to catch Loco’s solo performance. There were all kinds of concert-goers — the hardcore ones who wanted to be close to the stage and the foodies who indulged in chimaek while vibing to the music in their seats. As I was with an enthusiastic Loco fan, we ended up joining the crowd. 

concert in seoul korea, loco, korean hip hop artist

Loco’s solo performance.

We slowly made our way closer to the stage and at some point, I didn’t have to rely on the huge LED screens to get a closer view of Loco. It was also around then that I was hit with the starstruck feeling of seeing a celebrity in the flesh. Every bit of worry and fatigue I felt just vanished, and I was truly enjoying the moment. It was just so mesmerising to see him nail the tempo while rapping; that’s the beauty of a live performance!

daegu chimac festival, simon dominic, korean hip hop artist

Trying to get a glimpse of Simon Dominic (in red) among a sea of heads.

We were there for nearly two hours. After Loco, we also got to see Simon Dominic, another popular hip-hop artist. Throughout the concert, everyone around us was cheering, some even jumping to the beat. I also picked up the fan chants to join in the fun — especially when Simon Dominic sang his iconic track, Simon Dominic. Furthermore, I say this as a casual listener, but the chant that involved spelling out his name lingered in my mind for a few days after the concert.

I also felt a surge of exhilaration every time the crowd went wild: when Loco reappeared to rap alongside Simon Dominic, and when they addressed the audience in Daegu satoori (regional dialect). The dialect has more inflexions than the standard Seoul accent; being able to tell them apart is something I learned after years of watching K-pop videos. I’m sure for the Koreans, hearing your favourite idol speaking in satoori is just astounding on a whole different level. 

I also noticed something interesting: Such free outdoor concerts didn’t only attract young people. I looked behind and saw an elderly couple grooving to the music, with cups of beer in hand. There were also families with young children in the seating areas. Korea summer festivals certainly draw in the most diverse crowds!

What happened after the concert

drone lights show, daegu

A design created by a group of drones.

The concert ended with illuminating drone formations in the sky. I was expecting to see fireworks, but this was something novel and I dare say, even better! The festival continued on, with queues snaking across rows of chimaek stalls, while other concert-goers were caught in a jam at the park’s exit. 

We imagined that we could grab a seat with a scrumptious box of fried chicken, but after waiting in the unending queue for a few minutes, we gave up and decided to get snacks from the convenience store outside the park instead. 

The feeling after attending a concert usually goes like this: The magical spark of awe continues to linger, while fatigue kicks in. If not for a better description, my mind was screaming excitedly, “I can’t believe I saw Loco and Simon Dominic in person!” On the other hand, my muscles were also screaming… in pain. 

Another thing about large-scale concerts like this is that you’ll have to trudge to the nearest station with thousands of concert-goers. Even after visiting the convenience store, we only managed to squeeze into the train after a fourth round of waiting. Despite that, I had no regrets about going to this South Korea summer festival for the concert. In fact, I think I had even developed an interest in K-hip-hop songs — my travel buddy must have been proud of me.

Attending another pop-up K-pop concert in Seoul

The story doesn’t end here. Less than a week later, my travel buddy found another free concert opportunity; this time in Seoul. Are you familiar with the third-generation K-pop band, WINNER? I definitely was, and I couldn’t believe they were holding a guerrilla concert: a K-pop term for a surprise performance. 

Moreover, it was at the Yeouido Floating Stage in Yeouido Hangang Park, which was a metro stop away from our Airbnb. This time, I came prepared with my camera’s zoom capabilities to avoid squeezing with a crowd at the amphitheatre. 

yeouido hangang park, floating stage, winner, kpop concert seoul

The photos I got of WINNER vs the actual distance from the stage.

We plopped ourselves down on the platform a distance away from the stage — enough to get a peripheral view of WINNER and for my camera to work its magic. The evening breeze, complemented by their heavenly vocals; I couldn’t ask for a better experience. They sang I LOVE U: the title track of Holiday, the album they were promoting at that time. Apart from performing, they dedicated some time to thanking their fans (Inner Circle). Despite the language barrier, I enjoyed every moment of the show.

fans, lightsticks, crowd, kpop concert seoul

A crowd of Inner Circles waving their blue lightsticks.

Speaking of the fans, Inner Circles created a sea of blue with their lightsticks, while screaming at the top of their lungs. As compared to the summer festival, there were proportionately more fans than people (like us) who decided to pop by for fun. 

Because of that, I felt a little detached from the crowd, since I barely knew any fan chants. That changed when WINNER performed Really Really, their hit song, and I found myself belting out the lyrics, too. So, don’t worry too much if you aren’t a hardcore fan — concerts are all about having fun and living in the moment! 

Also read: 13 Best Stores in Seoul to Shop for K-Pop Merchandise

Tips for attending a summer concert in South Korea

1. Source for free concerts through social media

Woman using handphone

Image credit: Patcharin.innara via Canva Pro

Social media is your strongest ally to source for free concert opportunities. My travel buddy had a knack for finding these concerts by using apps such as TikTok, Xiaohongshu, and Instagram. If you need an extra level of confirmation, you can also check the company’s or the artist’s social media accounts — they’ll definitely promote the events. 

From my experience, if you see a Korea summer festival, you are likely to find a lineup of performances there, too. Otherwise, you can keep looking out for pop-up concerts, which are announced on short notice.

2. What to do when faced with crowds

crowd, concert

Image credit: Nikada via Canva Pro

Crowds are inevitable in these situations, especially when the events are free. While there is crowd control in place, you should also avoid tight spaces, especially near the stage. When it comes to large venues, the benefit is that people move in and out of the crowds, leaving pockets of space for you to move to. That was what we did at the Daegu Chimac Festival, allowing us to have a relatively good view of the performance.

There are usually the most dense crowds at the venue’s entrances and exits. A good way of avoiding them would be to arrive early or leave a little later to let the human traffic clear out. It will definitely make your experience a whole lot better. Ultimately, your safety overrides everything else, which includes being as close to your idols as you can. 

3. Know what things to bring to the concert

Most of these free outdoor concerts occur in the evening, when the weather is cooler. Still, it can get stuffy with so many people around. Having a fan and a water bottle is a must to stay cool and hydrated. It rains pretty often in summer, so do pack an umbrella or a waterproof jacket, just in your bag in case. 

Lastly, a phone or camera with a powerful zoom function will guarantee you the best shots of the idols even if you can’t go any closer to the stage. I was so amazed by what my camera’s zoom could do at WINNER’s concert, and I was nowhere near the stage. You can have a more relaxing experience sitting down while still getting those fansite-worthy pictures of your idols. However, when it comes to bulkier cameras, do check with the security guards there if you are allowed to use them. 

Also read: From Cultural Experiences to National Events: 6 Festivals to Experience Korean Culture

That’s all I have to say about attending free summer concerts in South Korea. If you are heading there soon, give these free concerts a try! A K-pop performance in its home country is definitely an experience you won’t want to miss. 

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Images credited to Jessie Lee, unless indicated otherwise.

About Author

Jessie Lee

Jessie is a writer and an avid dreamer. She enjoys quiet time pondering over new ideas and stories. If she isn't dreaming about her next travel destination, she's probably engrossed in anime and K-dramas.