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K-Pop Guide 101: Attending M-Countdown in Seoul, Korea

The crazy madness of BTS “Love Yourself” concert ticket sales in Singapore has resulted in a social media frenzy, with many lamenting about not getting any tickets despite hours of queuing. If you are one of the unlucky fans, fret not — try your luck again by attending their next comeback stage in Seoul at M-Countdown!

Being a K-Pop enthusiast who has been to M-Countdown twice, here are some insider tips and a step-by-step guide to getting into M-Countdown smoothly.

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea

Going into the studios

Preparation work (before filming)

Yes, you need to do your homework diligently before attending M-Countdown (unless you do not mind standing for hours listening to K-pop idols that you’ve not even heard of).

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea

Approximately one week before the actual filming every Thursday, check the official Facebook page to find out the line-up of groups who are performing and which ones are having a comeback stage. Decide if you want to go for a pre-recording of an idol’s comeback stage or watch the live broadcast. Note: All comeback stages are pre-recorded earlier in the day (you can go as early as 5am!) before the live broadcast.

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea

Image credit: Mnet K-POP YouTube

Visit the idols’ fan cafe (click the 공방공지 section at the side) or any Twitter fanbase account to check out the official pre-recording time. Otherwise, arrive as early as you can for the best view. During the comeback period of popular idol groups such as BTS and Twice, many die-hard fans actually camped outside the performance hall for 12 hours straight!

If you are not a hardcore fan and are not attending M-Countdown for a specific idol group, my advice would be to go with the flow on the actual day. Simply join the line with the shortest queue and stand more chance to get extra tickets.

For non-fan club members, here are some things to prepare before going to M-Countdown:

  • Personal passport
  • Idol’s latest comeback album and a proof of purchase of their digital single + user information (only if you are specifically going to see a popular idol’s comeback)
  • Basic conversational Korean language
  • Essential sleep the day before
  • A thick coat especially if it is the cold season

On filming day

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea
Image credit:

WAKE UP EARLY! If you want to catch up on more sleep, choose an accommodation closer to CJ E&M Center, the broadcasting centre of M-Countdown located at Digital Media City Station. Hongdae is another good alternative as it is only one subway stop away from Digital Media City Station and is home to affordable yet cosy guesthouses.

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea

A mandatory shot outside CJ E&M to commemorate our first experience at a live music program!

If you are staying at Hongdae, try to reach CJ E&M Center by 5.30am for a higher chance of entering! Upon reaching, keep your eyes peeled for massive groups of K-Pop fans gathering outside CJ E&M Center. There will also be a sheet of paper stuck on a lamp-post near the rows of queues where you can pen down your name to enter the performance hall as general audience. For pre-recorded comeback stages, you’ve to ask around and look for the fan club’s administrator.

Now that everything is settled, wait between four to five hours before an M-Countdown staff comes out of the building to get the name list. Typically, they will admit 10 to 15 people for general audiences depending on the popularity of the idol performing groups. For pre-recorded sessions, there are three different tiers:

  • Tier 1 (the highest priority): Official fan club members
  • Tier 2: Non-fan club members with the album and proof of purchase of digital single (from Melon, Naver, etc)
  • Tier 3: If there are still tickets left, they will admit non-fan club members who have passports with them

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea

The ‘entrance ticket’ into M Countdown pre-recording

My first visit to M-Countdown was to the pre-recorded comeback stage of Infinite’s Nam Woohyun. As there were many leftover tickets for non-fan club members, I managed to enter as the third tier non-fan club members. What’s more, there was a lucky draw for all fans to win an exclusive autographed polaroid of Nam Woohyun and…I won! My second visit was to the live broadcast as a general audience.

My personal experience

explore, travel, k-pop guide 101: attending m-countdown in seoul, korea

A photo taken secretly in the performance hall

Overall, it was a fun and exciting experience watching the performances of the idols up-close and observing how the media production team worked behind the scenes. For pre-recorded stages, the idols even took time to interact and chat with the fans before the performance began. The idols also made sure that their performance is as flawless as possible. Woohyun personally checked his pre-recorded performance again and again, and even requested to retake his performance twice until he was satisfied.

My advice for travellers who wants to get into live music programs is to go for M Countdown! It is the easiest music program to enter, with the least restrictions for foreigners. So if you did not manage to get BTS concert tickets this time, grab your tickets to M-Countdown next time!

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