Akaraka. There are various interpretations of the meaning of Akaraka: The war cry used by a Roman general, the sound made by an eagle (the symbol of Yonsei), or ‘ak’ (악, 樂) ‘ha’ (하, 下) ‘rak’ (락, 樂) ‘ha’ (하, 下) meaning everyone becomes one under the collective joy felt through music when written in Chinese. But no matter which of the various interpretations is correct, what is undeniable is that Akaraka, along with the Yonko Games, is one of the two events most synonymous with Yonsei. For all the students who participate in Akaraka, there is no way they will ever forget their experience as the emotions felt during the day will be forever seared into their memories as one of their highlights during their time at Yonsei.
The motto for this year’s Akaraka was YOLO (Yonsei Only Live Once). As always, the hype leading up to the day of the event was massive and expectations were sky high. Because the line-up of celebrities performing wasn’t revealed until they make their appearance onto the stage, there were many speculations and the Yonsei Akaraka Cheering Squad (being the main organisers for the event) fuelling the speculations themselves by leaking humorous fake line-ups including figures such as Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, Choo Sa-rang and Son Heung-min.
Along with the hype, however, there were also fears of whether this year’s Akaraka would be successful because of the fickle weather. During the days leading up to the event, the weather was downright awful with heavy torrential rain. Despite these fears, however, the weather turned out to be magnificent and couldn’t be better. It was as if the heavens had cleared for Yonsei’s enjoyment of this particular occasion.
The 2018 Akaraka started off with the Yonsei Akaraka Cheering Squad performing a stream of the classic Yonsei cheering tracks as well as several new additions to the traditional ensemble. The members of the Cheering Squad masterfully cajoled and orchestrated the crowd into join them in performing the cheers to the tracks.
Next up were SONAGI, Yonsei’s very own indie-rock band. As they took to the stage they performed a plethora of songs that seamlessly transitioned between edgy and eerily mournful sounds. As well as performing indie songs like “Catch Me” and “Agami”, the band also performed a nouveau chic rendition of Girls Generation’s hit track “Into the New World” drawing rave reactions from the crowd.
HYUKOH proceeded to take the stage and drew an automatic chorus from the crowd without any nudging from the band. Displaying their typical monotonic and nonchalant manner that is considered so charismatic and unique to them, they performed a string of their hit songs including “Wi-ing Wi-ing” and “Tomboy”. A band that seems blissfully unaware of the coolness they emanate, HYUKOH’s performance was a no-frills yet ethereal one filled with intensely cathartic pieces genuinely imperious in manner.
iKon then came out blazing with a one-two punch of two of their most recognisable hits “My Type” and “Love Scenario”. They unabashedly showed off their flash, coupling boyish charm and powerful moves to various dance tracks that energised the audience to jump and shout along with them.
SUZY took the stage with a crowd drowning in delirium at the sight of South Korea’s national heart-throb. She proceeded to melt the audience with a mixture of mellow and flirty tracks that showed off her sweet vocals and even performed a rendition of the iconic “I love you Yonsei” cheer together with the cheering squad and crowd.
ZICO subsequently burst onto the stage and brought all the swag in the world with him. He quickly roused the audience from their infatuation with SUZY with the highly octane songs “Fanxy Child’ and “Artist”. The crowd exploded when he told them of how Akaraka had been one of the top 3 stages he wished to perform at along with his own solo concert and the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA). His subsequent performances were filled with a blur of limbs as he danced with unabashed confidence and spat the verses to ridiculously exquisite rap songs.
Just when you thought the atmosphere could not get any more heightened after ZICO’s masterful performance, SUNMI took to the stage. She proceeded to flash cuteness and sexiness in equal measure while charming the crowd at every possible moment. After constantly reminding the audience how she loved them and even revealing how she had her nails and mascara done blue in the Akaraka spirit, she held a surprise event. She brought on to the stage 5 students picked at random, hugging each one of them and giving out gifts.
After SUNMI left the stage, having charmed every member of the audience, who else was left to close everything off but PSY? He has been a near fixture in recent years and almost feels like a part of the family. He had the crowd chanting before he had even spoken a word and warned from the get go that his performance was not one simply to be watched but to actively be a part of and enjoy to the fullest together with him. Subsequently, with every instruction to the technical crew intended to maximise the theatre’s atmosphere he drove the crowd into a state of pure ecstasy. The performance was capped by the magical moment when the audience lit up the whole of Nocheon Theatre with mobile phone lights and sang-along to “Father” acapella style. Psy proved yet again that there really is no one like him when it comes to stage dominance.
This year’s Akaraka was the actualisation of the YOLO spirit. The irresistible performances continually drove the audience into raptures; subtly emotionally touching in some moments and erupting into thrillingly euphoric sequences of chanting and Mexican waves the next. The passion of the Yonsei student body when answering every call from the performers with fervour, spurring the performers on to even greater heights and enjoying the day as if there really was no tomorrow. This is Akaraka. What a day it was and what a day it will remain etched forever into our memories.