When I arrived at Haneda airport this morning, there were about forty girls standing outside the security check room for Exo. As the morning wore on, that number increased. Many of them were flying home that day themselves.
My flight was at 12:20 but I hoped I'd be able to catch one last glimpse of Exo before I went home because let's face it, the U.K. is an arid, K-pop desert and even if artists do come, the tickets are so expensive it would be cheaper to fly to Korea in a private jet. (^_^)
I noticed some people being let into a special, cordoned off section of the security check, like a fast track. I went to investigate. It was the crew member only section. If Exo did come, I thought they would go through there.
There was a second crew entrance on the opposite side and all the girls had massed there. It was my first time flying out of Haneda so I didn’t know it very well and I assumed all the other girls must know where celebrities go when they arrive at the airport.
So, Exo weren't on the 8.50, the 9.00 or the 9.15 flights.
I wandered around the airport and shops until it was time for me to check-in.
Afterwards, I wandered around a bit more but then I felt really tired. I’d been to two Exo greeting party showings and the Stars on Ice Tour and had spent many hours travelling, waiting around at the airport and queuing for merchandise, so I hadn’t had much time to sleep since I’d arrived in Japan.
I found myself dosing.
It didn't look like they'd be on the 12.05 or the 12.20. It was nearly 11 o'clock. I gave myself until 11.10 and then I was going to go through the security check myself.
11.04. I finally sent an e-mail to my sister telling her I wouldn't get to see Exo today. I'd been writing it for a while, but as I'd said, I'd kept dosing off and accidentally pressing keys so it looked like hh gvjn hbhc and every time I went to delete it, I'd wake up and find I'd just written some more nonsense!
I queued up for about ten minutes at the security check. I went for the one next to the first staff entrance because that had the fewest people. Also, all the fan girls were on the other side so there wouldn’t be a lot of people crowding round (I'm not a fan of crowds).
The security check was completed without any problems. And so I started walking towards the automatic glass doors to leave the security check room. There was a handful of girls, perhaps ten or fifteen, standing on the other side of the doors with DSLRs. Suddenly, they all started clicking.
For a split second, I'm thinking 'whatever' and about to get back to my day but then I realise: girls with cameras = Exo fan girls = they're taking pictures of Exo = Exo are behind me?!
I turn around and there are these boys standing by the wall in hoodies and casual attire. Some are wearing sunglasses. They'd come through the special staff entrance and they obviously were not airline staff so they were definitely famous, but were they Exo, though? I was struck by how ordinary they were.
And then I saw D.O.
Definitely Exo, then.
Suddenly my day felt very bizarre.
And before I know what I'm doing, I'm reaching for my camera and when I turn round again, Suho, D.O., Kai and Xiumin are being escorted towards me by an Asiana Airlines staff member.
Omo omo omo!
Suho's wearing sunglasses and I didn’t notice it until I looked at my recording later, but he starts covering his face with his boarding pass holder when he sees me. But I am too busy looking at cute little Kyungsoo. He’s walking behind Xiumin, in conversation with Kai and he looks just as adorable in real life.
And then, I'm kind of in the way so as they get closer, I move aside to let them pass.
The security man says to me in Japanese 'you can’t take pictures' so I stop filming.
The four boys proceed to the toilets. The girls let them go in peace, waiting for the others to come through.
We watched as the other members came through the security check, though they didn't leave the room. Luhan was decked out in the greeting party merchandise - he had the hoodie and the hat, which was cute.
D.O. came to the entrance of the toilets. He was just standing there, observing for a while with that characteristic
wide-eyed stare of his and then he went back inside.
I saw Chanyeol collecting his bag too.
And then, they all started coming through the automatic doors. Baekhyun was first in a red hoodie and then Chen. Kris came next. He was one of the few who weren’t wearing sunglasses. And then, there was Chanyeol and Luhan and Sehun. Then almost everyone ran after them.
So then, we go to immigration to have our passports checked. Most of the boys queue up in one line with leader Kris at the front, Galaxy style. He has sunglasses on now and he looks really cool and really tall.
In the queue next to them are Baekhyun and Chen. I stand in the third queue, next to them and behind this German man. I chose not to queue up behind Exo so I could turn around and look at them. (^_^)
Then, it got a bit chaotic. Girls were trying to take pictures of Exo and Exo’s staff were shouting at them to stop. One girl was standing right up close, taking pictures. One of the staff members ran up to her, hit her camera out of the way, tried to grab it and then was chasing after her, shouting at her in Korean.
The girls on the other side of the passport check (and there were a lot of them – like around sixty or so) heard all the commotion and they were trying to get back into the room and trying to hold their cameras up really high to get pictures of the boys. All I could hear were shutters clicking.
Another staff member was even standing on top of one of the passport booths trying to use his body to block them and grabbing at cameras and shouting.
It was all a bit scary. I looked at Exo but they didn’t even seem fazed by it. I suppose they must be used to it.
Somehow, the staff got the girls calmed down a bit. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly, the girls in the passport check were gone so it was just Exo, two German men who were on my flight, and me in the room. The two men were looking at each other and smiling as if to say ‘what just happened?’.
But the girls on the other side were still scrabbling to get back in, pressing round the exit of the passport booths so we couldn't get out. We had to wait for everything to be sorted out. More time spent with Exo. Fine by me. (^_^) However, it was so surreal that I couldn’t properly process the fact the boys standing right there were Exo. Apart from Kris and Suho, who I had already seen at Super Junior’s Super Show 5 in London last November, Exo only existed on the Internet for me.
The others were out of the toilets by now and were standing at the back of the queue. Perhaps they were hiding from the girls before??? I couldn’t blame them.
Everyone seems quite tired. Lay and Tao are wearing the white masks people wear when they’re ill or have allergies like hay fever.
The boys are all standing there so quietly and with the exception of D.O., Kai and Xiumin, they’re all wearing sunglasses. I’m actually really shy when I’m around people, so I can’t help but find the members wearing sunglasses a little bit intimidating.
Finally, I get to go through immigration. My passport is checked and I'm free to go, except I'm not quite because two girls are in the exit way with DSLRs with huge lenses. I stop. One moves out the way. The other stands there and waves at me, gesturing to just go past her while she cranes her neck to get a glance of the boys.
I know I'm thinner than average, and on a good day, I could attempt to squeeze through the gap she left me but today with my bag and my laptop?
I squeeze past the best I can but my laptop still bumps into her.
And so on the other side, I enter the mass of girls. Since they’re not after me, it’s quite easy to get through them.
I look at my boarding pass. Gate 106. I take a step forward.
Let me see which direction Exo are going first so I turn round and there is Chanyeol swamped by girls with their camera lenses in his face and then he starts walking towards me. Seven or eight girls break off from the throng like bacteria and walk with him.
He walks past. So, they're going that way... The same way as me. As I turn back round, an eager girl with a DSLR runs into me from the opposite direction. Recovering, I start walking to my gate. Despite all the girls pressing in on him taking pictures, Chanyeol seems to radiate a sort of calmness, which is endearing. I don’t know how he was feeling inside, but somehow he reminds me of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
, as he was walking to be killed by the White Witch...
Suddenly, from over my left shoulder, I hear Sehun's voice. He’s quite close. My heart momentarily freezes in surprise.
'Let's go together' he says to Chanyeol. Chanyeol stops and turns round. The girls stop and turn round. Sehun strolls past me with his own posse which join Chanyeol's to form a bigger, extended unit. He and Chanyeol are both on the taller side and take large strides. Unless I run, I can't walk next to them. But I don’t want to annoy them, and besides, I’m too scared to walk next to them, so I stay where I am, a bit behind them. Soon we get to the travelator and there are so many girls waiting. Some jump onto the travelator in front of them with their camera lenses really close to the boys. Security is telling them not to get in the way. Girls are running and clambering over things - anything to get a picture. It was quite hectic.
Sehun and Chanyeol turned into gate 108 and I continued to gate 106.
As I e-mailed my sisters, who are also huge Exo fans, my hands were trembling. It was just so unreal. Like, I had wanted to see Exo at the airport but I just thought I’d see them from afar. I had no idea I’d be that close to them.
So yes, that was my unexpected Exo experience.