While K-Pop artists Red Velvet are superstars at home, few people are familiar with the band across Europe. This week, the girl group is travelling across Switzerland. On Tuesday, they strolled through St.Gallen, visited the Abbey Library and shot a film. We talked to them on set.
Imagine this: You're a superstar but no-one recognizes you as you stroll around in the city center. That's how the members of Korean girlgroup Red Velvet must have felt on Tuesday, as they took a city tour around St.Gallen in Eastern Switzerland. Their most-clicked video on Youtube has well over 250 million views. Irene, Seulgi, Joy, Wendy und Yeri have over 8 million followers on Instagram.
Hard to imagine that they'd be able to enjoy this kind of freedom at home. Seulgi says: «Back home, it is really difficult for us to have coffee and nice food on a terrace and take beautiful pictures like today. We will cherish the memories of this trip for a long time and enjoy this beautiful scenery and the atmosphere of freedom.»
Red Velvet are in St.Gallen for a reason: The band has been invited by Switzerland Tourism in order to promote the country as a travel destination for Koreans. And they didn't travel here on their own: A staff of roughly two dozen people came with them. Cameramen, stylists, manager: They are always close by, taking care of the band members and setting up locations for photo shoot with watchful eyes.
The first stop for Irene, Seulgi, Joy, Wendy und Yeri on their quick tour through St.Gallen takes place at the Abbey Library. The girls are not only impressed by the architecture, but also by the various exhibition objects. At the Library, there are books that are over a thousand years old. Librarian Cornel Dora guides the band members through the exhibition before they take photos and shoot for social media.
Next up is the Cathedral of St.Gallen. The UNESCO world heritage site is the ideal location for lots of photos. Even a drone is used, as locals watch in bewilderment. It's still morning, but the band members are beginning to feel a bit tired and jet-lagged.
It's time for a break, as Red Velvet head to a well-known Chocolaterie in the Abbey district for breakfast. While the photoshoot continues, local patrons watch in amusement. «They're stars in Korea, you know», the bandmanager says. The customers, however, are ahead of her. «We know», they respond.
In fact, K-Pop has long seized to be a solely Korean phenomenon. Over the past few years, it's become a genre with global following. Take BTS, K-Pop's most famous boyband: They sold out Wembley this year multiple times in a row. So it's no wonder that Red Velvet wouldn't go completely unrecognized in St.Gallen. The band members seem to enjoy the first destination of their Switzerland tour: Wendy says: «The city is really charming and pretty.»
Before lunchtime, there's one more stop on schedule for Red Velvet: They head to the Red Square. The square designed by famous Swiss artist Pippilotti Rist is located in between two buildings of a bank headquarter and is covered in red paint. How about that for an eyecatcher? As more and more locals gather to watch the photo shoot, Red Velvet patiently grant requests for autographs, before they're headed to Drei Weieren, a popular area on St.Gallen's southern hillside, for lunch.