JEDDAH: South Korean boy band Super Junior arrived in Jeddah late on Thursday night ahead of their first-ever performance in Saudi Arabia on Friday night. The show, at King Abdullah Sports City, is part of the diverse international line up for Jeddah Season.
The group, which was put together by SM Entertainment in 2005, were pioneers of K-pop (Korean pop music). With hits such as “Sorry, Sorry,” “Bonamana” and “Mamacita,” they helped pave the way for other Korean artists to gain global recognition.
Super Junior were greeted upon arrival by a crowd of fans — known as E.L.F.s, or Ever Lasting Friends — who cheered and chanted as their musical heroes were ushered from the airport to waiting cars. The pop stars were also showered with dates and some extravagant gifts, including a Rolex watch and gold necklace containing a droplet of oil for band members Leeteuk and Heechul, who celebrated their birthdays this month.
Fans lucky enough to see the band in person and spend a few moments with their stars at the airport quickly shared photos and videos of the experience on social media.
Twitter user @Haneul704 shared a video showing fans cheering in Korean as the band climbed into several cars. She wrote: “My interactions with (band member) Siwon are endless; he accepted my gift and held my lightstick, and when I lost sight of him, he popped up from behind me and I was startled and (he) was waving at us while waiting in the car.”
Another fan, @emoo11000, wrote: “E.L.F.s didn’t disappoint and greeted them most auspiciously with dates and Arabic coffee, gold and a Rolex; can’t wait to see what’s coming next.”
Wishes come true
E.L.F.s in Saudi Arabia have been dreaming of a performance by the band in the Kingdom for a long time and when the concert was finally announced many shared photos of their tickets on social media, along with Super Junior merchandise such sweaters and official band lightsticks: Rods that light up and change color which fans wave during concerts. Some also promised to make banners to take to the show.
Twitter user @Kuwaile wrote: “They’re truly not celebrities for us. It’s like we’re childhood friends and we’re reuniting after years of not meeting.”
In another tweet, @hiiamash summed up how she felt about the concert by saying: “It’s a dream come true after 14 years.”
Another E.L.F., @Sheio407, praised fans for helping each other out to ensure they got tickets: “Seriously E.L.F.s are the best; lending each other money to afford tickets, and those who helped book tickets for others, girls who’ll be sharing hotel rooms or car rides. We’re literally like one big family squabbling before a huge feast.”
On Friday, just four hours before the concert was due to start, Super Junior teased fans with a 13-second video posted on the official Jeddah Season Twitter account, in which they said: “Thank you, Jeddah Season. See you tonight.” Then they added “Assalamu Alaikum, Jeddah.”
In addition to the main gig on Friday, several members of Super Junior will perform at the same venue in the band’s spin-off subgroups D & E, and K.R.Y on Saturday night, alongside K-pop group Stray Kids, also as part of Jeddah Season.
Jeddah Season aims to showcase and promote the Saudi city as a major tourist destination, and to encourage partnerships with local businesses.
Organizers hope the event will generate up to 20,000 job and volunteering opportunities for young Saudis. The 41-day festival includes about 150 events and activities featuring local, regional and international acts.