REVIEW: KASA Culture Show 2024 — Seoul Shadows

Landing itself at the tail end of the year, the KASA Culture Show presents a grand finale to the year. KASA stands for the Korean American Student Association, a cultural/social organization that seeks to bring together a Korean American community and celebrate Korean culture. The night was full of wonderful performances of music and dance, but the true highlight was the screening of a popular K-drama remake. This year, KASA showcased their remake of the film Door Lock (도어락).

Before I get into the film, I’d like to highlight how amazing the music performances were. Sinaboro started off the night with a bang (of a janggu) performing a traditional Samul Nori (사물놀이) ensemble. Samul Nori is a genre of traditional Korean percussion music that utilizes four instruments: the kkwaenggwari (꽹과리), a small gong, the jing (징), a larger gong, the janggu (장구), an hourglass-shaped drum, and the Buk (북), a barrel bass drum. The precise rhythms and clangorous quality of Sinaboro’s performance brought a part of Korean culture that was unique and very interesting to learn about/experience. Additionally, Seoul Juice gave a stellar performance, although I am not completely familiar with their set list, each song filled the theater with pleasing harmonies that the band is well associated with. Personally, I’ve seen Seoul Juice perform multiple times and they always deliver, by which I mean every single member gave their all.

Seoul Juice Mid-Performance

Now the film was no doubt the highlight of the night, as it captivated the whole audience in its masterly-made production. Door Lock is a horror movie about a woman’s victimization by the hands of a stalker. Carrying heavy themes about sexual assault, stalking, and kidnapping, the film is one that leaves the audience in horrifying suspense about the identity of Kyungmin’s stalker but also woeful concern about her safety. By all means, the most fun part of it was the audience’s reactions as everyone screamed in terror, gasped in shock, and aired their frustration that she would just let that guy in her apartment. The way the film was shown to the audience was also unique and fascinating as it was cut into parts, progressively being shown between performances. It left us in the audience with cliffhangers, red herrings, and terrible suspense.

However, I do note that there was one problem I found to be pervasive: the overrepresentation of Kpop in Korean culture. While I absolutely adored the flawless formations and power of Female Gayo, the baddie energy and captivating visuals of Humi, the stylishness and effortlessness of DB3, the uniqueness and ingenuity of UMTKD, the focus and freshness of K-Motion, it felt like the heavy presence Kpop has overshadowed other important aspects of Korean culture. I would like to emphasize that Korean culture is not just the Kpop that it is often represented with, and a culture show should be a space to celebrate diverse representations of culture, not just a popular facet of it.

Despite this criticism, I found the KASA Culture Show to be a great time. The energy from the audience gave me life, and every time the dancers were only shown through silhouette I audibly gasped by how cool it looked. In summation, I love performances and the multimedia showcase of the KASA Culture Show was exemplary in all counts quality-wise.


Pulling up to the theater, with McDonalds tucked under our winter coats, and a barely-secured parking spot (the lot was completely full), we were hyped for the 8:30 PM show. The live simulcast was not actually live, due to time zones. (Though admittedly, I would have readily shown up to the real thing at 4 AM; international fans are used to such release times – something about having to set an alarm for ass-o’clock in the morning makes the whole thing more exciting.) This weekend held BTS’ first concert of 2022, a 3-day show, and Saturday was the only day it would be streamed in theaters all around the world. In the throng of the theater lobby, we kept exchanging glances with other ticket holders, and it was like we could somehow tell who was also there for BTS. Despite all this, our cinema wasn’t a packed one: less than half capacity, a comfortable audience.

What’s different about this concert, is that the entire show included all seven members – no solo songs or subunits – because the band wanted to see ARMY (the moniker for BTS fans) for as long as they could. This, I really enjoyed; their stage presence and energy is best all together, as a group. Existing as seven also allows them to joke with one another. They especially had fun teasing the audience, by trying to trick or provoke them into shouting and cheering past the no yelling/chanting policy, due to South Korea’s COVID restrictions.

My favorite performances were that of Black Swan, a breath-taking bird-like dance intro, followed by contemporary trap-beat choreography. The all-black ensemble is highlighted by the background dancers’ feathered sleeves, which create flowing transitions and haunting waves. During Telepathy, an upbeat retro song the band wrote to “melt down the feeling of not being able to meet with fans” (Genius), the boys rode moving platforms that circle the stadium’s first floor, allowing them to get closer to the second and third floor audiences.


BTS during Black Swan

It started raining halfway through, but they sang, danced, slipped, and smiled through it all.

The whole performance was as expected: rigorously well-rehearsed, show-stopping, grand-scaled. I was, however, surprised that there were no English subtitles, since during most of their live broadcasts, there’s usually real-time translations uploaded to the bottom of the screen, letter by letter. My Korean isn’t perfect, but I can understand for the most part. For this, I was grateful. Although most non-speakers can sing BTS’s lyrics thanks to romanization and translation guides, during the speeches, I think most people were lost. When the members asked the audience to clap three times in succession, or for other call-and-responses, my row’s were the only ones ringing through the theater.

During their closing speech, the leader of the group, RM said, “Honestly, I think there are lots of people who find these middle concerts (2nd day concerts) a bit of a shame. The 1st concert is the first, so they feel excited; the last concert is the last, so they cry and it’s touching. So there are people who might think that the middle concerts are a little iffy/ambiguous. But what’s very special about today is, because there is no online streaming, only you all who are here and the ones in the movie theaters are the ones seeing us. And above all, the rain, they said it’s not coming tomorrow. Isn’t this a rare stage effect that you all can enjoy only today? And like the cherry blossoms flying/falling, I think it was even more special, because we got to be together.” 

BTS taking a group photo with ARMY

With twenty-two songs, five ments – “the time when those onstage introduce themselves, speak to fans, and give speeches” (Morin) – plus five pre-recorded VCRs (videos they play between sets), the performance amounted to around 3 hours and 15 minutes. Yet, as people started to file out, I couldn’t help feeling like it all went by so quickly. I’m seeing BTS in person at their Las Vegas show in April; how much faster would that fly by? The girls I went to the theater with would also be my concert buddies that weekend. This was our first time hanging out together outside of church, where we met. The fact that our love for this band brought us together and helped me, an introvert, sidestep the dreaded small talk stage of a new friendship, is so cool. I think that’s what I love most about BTS: their social impact– both breaking the barriers of the mostly white, American music scene, and helping to unify diverse communities of people through their music.



The record-breaking, history-making K-pop boy band, BTS, is holding their first concert of 2022 this Saturday, March 12th. You can watch the BTS Permission To Dance ON STAGE – SEOUL: LIVE VIEWING at both 4:30pm or 8:30pm at Ann Arbor 20 + IMAX theater in Ypsilanti. The actual concert will be held in Seoul, South Korea, but broadcasted to select theaters around the world, only on Saturday, March 12th. The price of one ticket is $35.00 + service fee.

BTS is my favorite band. They’ve broken cultural barriers as a foreign group who have gained global popularity, despite singing mostly in Korean. I have been to one other BTS concert live viewing before, and the theater was loud. I anticipate that this Saturday, the theater will be filled with fellow ARMY’s (BTS fans), and for BTS lightsticks to be flicked on, waving in action.

The Ann Arbor theater added four separate shows for both viewing times – eight theaters total – after the first showing nearly sold out immediately. So there’s plenty of tickets to go around!

Something to note is that due to South Korea’s COVID restrictions, the audience is not allowed to make any noise, a quite hilarious request for fans at a concert. Instead, the venue will hand out clappers – yes, these things:

– for fans to clap with. 

Here are some priceless screenshots from official concert etiquette guides:


In the theater, there will be no such restraints. Cheer, dance, and sing all you want!

BTS (방탄소년단) PTD ON STAGE – SEOUL: LIVE VIEWING SPOT (trailer/ info video):

Get tickets here!

Featured image:

‘things to know before attending the concert’ images: