How satisfying is a concert featuring virtual K-pop stars?

Wonder Girls (above) in a virtual 3D show at K-live Sentosa.
Wonder Girls (above) in a virtual 3D show at K-live Sentosa.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Music fans pay a premium to watch their idols perform live - it is about the only time they can be in the same space as their superstars.

For K-pop devotees, concert tickets cost from $100 to $1,000.

Would they shell out a fraction of those prices to be near a virtual version of their favourite stars?

At the new K-live Sentosa, a $4-million concert attraction, fans pay between $19 and $48 to watch Korean singers' performances.

The catch is that the K-pop idols prancing on stage are virtual 3D images of themselves. The attraction was officially launched yesterday.

Every show starts with a five-minute opening act - either a hologram drum dance ($39 for an adult ticket) or a live dance performance where real dancers move in tandem with holographic shapes ($48 for an adult ticket).

Both the package with the real dancers and the one without feature the same K-pop content - five-minute behind-the-scenes footage and a 30-minute K-pop hologram concert.

K-live aims to provide a real-life concert experience, but in a more intimate setting.

The concert theatre is 74.7 sq m, which can accommodate 150 people standing.

The multi-act K-pop show kicks off with two songs from boyband 2PM - club banger Hands Up and jazzy dance tune My House.

Wonder Girls are relegated to performing one song and, sadly, it is not even their worldwide hit, Nobody. Instead, they plug their latest disco-inspired tune, I Feel You.

Boyband GOT7, who were in town for the launch of K-live, have the most screen time with three catchy dance numbers - Just Right, Stop Stop It and Girls, Girls, Girls.

If you are not a fan of any of the featured acts, postpone your visit. New songs will be released every six months.

The 3D life-sized idols look real at first glance as they lip-sync and shimmy in tune with the pulsating music.

Like in an actual concert, the idols banter among themselves in between songs and also address the audience.

The atmosphere is livened up with actual strobing laser lights, bubbles and foam rain. Take along your own lightstick and a dose of enthusiasm to simulate the full concert experience.

Ironically, it is the holographic stage effects that bring one back to reality - human idols do not disappear in a burst of flames nor do they turn into building blocks.

As part of the show, a fan seated on an actual swing will be projected onto a screen where the 2PM members are performing.

Perhaps a fan's ultimate dream can be fulfilled only at the original K-live in Seoul. The K-pop haunt boasts additional digital attractions, which are not available at the Sentosa outpost.

A highlight of the Seoul attraction is a photo booth where fans can pose for photographs with their idols and take home a convincing print-out.

Without the fringe benefits at K-live Sentosa, the tickets are pricey for the largely student fanbase of K-pop. For students, a ticket costs $32 or $38.

Die-hard K-pop aficionados might fork out the money to visit the attraction once for novelty.

The virtual showcase might tide them over till the actual concert. Still, nothing beats seeing one's idols in the flesh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Get up close to K-pop idols in hologram'. Print Edition | Subscribe