Some concert-goers demand refund after calling Hallyu North K-pop festival a 'chaotic mess'

Some who attended a Korean pop festival in Toronto are upset with organizers for failing to meet their expectations, but those behind the Hallyu North festival say they are working to address concerns.

Organizers say they are aware of complaints and are working to provide fans with solutions

Vesta Choi, 16, says the Hallyu North festival she paid $320 to attend did not live up to what she claims was promised. 0:33

Some who attended a Korean pop festival are upset with organizers for failing to meet their expectations, but those behind the Hallyu North festival say they are working to address concerns. 

Shinee, a South Korean music group, was supposed to be the headliner of the event. The all-male group, which has more than six million likes on Facebook, was bringing their talents to Toronto for the first time.

But according to some, organizers left attendees feeling disappointed after the first day of the festival included a shorter-than-expected performance from the K-pop group. Those who bought tickets also complained that those behind the event struggled to handle large crowds.

"Everything was late, everything was terrible," said 16-year-old Vesta Choi, who claims to have spent $320 to attend the festival.

"[Organizers] were saying that they would have these food fests, they were saying that they would have these events, showcases and all of that — none of that happened."

Sylvia Meadows told CBC News via email that people had to stand outside for several hours just to enter the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place. She called her experience "a chaotic mess."

"I am glad no one in the crowd had a medical issue or it would have been a real disaster with people standing in those conditions for so long," Meadows said.

Organizers acknowledge 'difficulties'

Hallyu North Entertainment issued the following statement in response to the claims:

"We are aware of a small number of complaints from fans and we want to thank these fans for their feedback," the statement says. "We acknowledge that first year expositions are not without their difficulties and we are certainly no exception.

"We're currently working on a variety of solutions for fans that were not satisfied and we intend to handle these fans' concerns both fairly and promptly."

CBC News reached out to Hallyu North organizer Gloria "Angel" Zhang to request an interview and get more information on what happened, but did not hear back as of 1 p.m. Monday. 

Some fans were frustrated that Shinee only performed four songs for roughly 30 minutes before leaving. Multiple attendees said this was well short of what was expected.

"Organizers promised it would not be a short concert but they didn't deliver," Choi said.

Others were happy to see the group perform, but expressed their frustrations with the festival on social media.

Some attendees want partial refund

Meadows, who is from the U.S., said she paid for flights, a hotel and a concert ticket only to experience a show that did not live up to her expectations. 

"They could not organize themselves and delayed everything," she said. "There [is] a mass of angry customers."

Before the show, an organizer told CBC News there were high hopes for the event.

"This is going to be the largest Korean pop themed two-day festival in Canada," Zhang said last week.

Not going down without a fight, a group of disgruntled fans started a Facebook group with nearly 300 members in order to organize a way to get a 50 per cent refund. 

There is no word on whether this refund will happen, but organizers said Hallyu North was founded to satisfy a group of passionate K-pop fans. 

"We feel that we provided a great experience for our fans over the course of our expo's two days of events."

South Korean band Shinee, seen here performing in Hong Kong, made their first appearance in Toronto last Friday. (Kin Cheun/Associated Press)

With files from Ali Chiasson, Philip Lee-Shanok

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