Whoa! That is 10K more than last’s year’s KCON Conference!
The Korean Wave is growing in the western side of the world and if you think not everyone is in on K-dramas, KPOP, Korean cuisine, and ‘all things Hallyu’, then you better think again! Pretty soon they will call it a Korean Tsunami because everyone of all ages, from Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers are paying attention!
What exactly is KCON? It is the Korean-culture convention and festival that celebrates three full days of Korean music, television, movies, food, art, makeup and beauty, fashion, travel, and many more!
Activities during the day are held at the L.A. Convention Center where different expositions and Korean vendors showcase their wares. There are games, programs, and fun-filled events for the attendees.
Expect to bring not just a bagful of freebies but multiple bags of goodies and samples handed out to attendees. The contents alone more than compensate for the $30 convention pass.
And if you are hungry, there’s a bevy of Food Trucks parked right outside, with different types of Korean Cuisine and other offerings. The food is delicious and there are a variety to choose from. But prepare to wait in line because they can be really long! After, where would the 85K attendees go to eat?
Now do not waste all your energy during the day. Because in the evening you need a surge to line up for hours outside the Staples Center to attend a jam-packed, filled to the rafters concert with popular and up and coming KPOP artists.
This year, the headliners were GOT7, ASTRO, Heize, Wanna One, SF9, Girls’ Day, VIXX, Cosmic Girls, KARD, Super Junior, and SEVENTEEN.
Apart from Heize and VIXX, they are all boy and girl bands. And their performances were astounding! They catchy tunes was so easily to love, despite the foreign lyrics. They are very well trained to captivate the crowd.
This is my second year attending KCON with my college buddy and sidekick Ruth! We have made this event our yearly ‘bonding moment! And it must be the adrenaline of excitement with all the activities that musters up the energy to walk a mile away from our hotel to the conference venue, and stay on our feet the whole day!
We were able to easily tell the difference between the 2016 and 1027 KCON events. Apart from the increase in the number of attendees and higher conference and concert prices this year, the staging of the prior year’s KCON’s was much more grandeur. Perhaps because they were celebrating their 5th year.
In the previous year, the KCON event planners invested in a beautiful stage that showcased the artists really well. Whichever the angle of the stage, any seat had a great view. Unfortunately, this year, the stage was placed at the center and the artists were primarily performing on one side.
Ruth and I actually got premium floor access, which meant we do not have any specified seat, but we were free to select any area on the floor to view the show, except for the ‘front’ area of the stage where all the Platinum and Gold ticket holders were situated. You would think we would have the best view.
But this was not the case. With the artists using only the front area to stage most of their acts, we were viewing their backside most of the time. The lack of a viewing screen at our level made it difficult to see the show. We recon that any seat on the bleachers and even nosebleed section had a much better viewing of the performance.
The upside is when the artists moved around the stage we saw them really up close and our shots were fantastic! We could see all the technical details happening on stage, and even see how the artists interacted among themselves. That was pretty cool.
Here are some of the photographs we took from our side of the stage:
One other thing missing was the lack of a A-List Korean celebrity. Last year, no less than the handsome and absolute heartthrob Lee Min Ho headlined as the special guest. The year before that was Kim Soo Hyun, another popular actor known for playing the lead in the K-Drama ‘My Love from Another Star’ and Park Bo Young, the beautiful and talented lead actress from the K-Drama ‘Strong Woman Do Bong Soon’.
This year, surprisingly, there was none. I was actually hoping for Song Joong Ki (the lead in Descendants of the Sun), or Eric Moon, Park Shin Hye, Suzy, Taecyong, or Gong Yoo.
This was a disappointment. Attendees have come to expect that KCON not only catered to KPOP fans, but to K-Drama fans too. I went as far as to ask the folks in the Drama Fever booth if they can help KCON next year to secure the presence of an actor/actress. It was interesting that they too were surprised on the lack of an actor and/or actress.
However, there were some improvements that were very noticeable in the organization of the day events of KCON, in comparison to last year’s event.
Foremost, the convention was much easier to navigate. Lining up to get your ticket, goodie bag, and have your personal belongings inspected no longer took half-a-day. There were very clear signs on where to go depending on the type of ticket you purchased.
The number of KCON Exhibitors have seem to increase as well. And there were better staging of what seem to be the favored ones. For example, the The K-Beauty section was in the front and easy to access. I love seeing my favorite South Korean brands, from The Face Shop, Innisfree, Olive Young, Tony Moly, and many more.
Here’s what’s in my goodie bags:
The fan meeting rooms and panel discussions were conveniently located upstairs, above the exposition hall. And the audience meet-up and hi-touch (this is the event you get to actually give a high-five to the artist) were just around the corner. Every place took only a couple of minutes to get to. With last year, it seemed like a labyrinth trying to get from one place to the next!Part of the KCON Experience are the Fan Meets with the Artists.
During this year’s KCON, due to our premium P2 Ticket passes and winning at the Drama Fever booth, both Ruth and I got to see Heinze, Got7, Girls’ Day, Astro, VIXX, and KARD. The red carpet and hi-touch events alluded us, since our P2 tickets only gives a ‘chance’ at getting in. But no worries here since our concert floor access gave us a great view of seeing the artists up close!
Here are shots of the audience meet up.Yes, there are gazillions of fans screaming and having a great time!:
Surprisingly, three days was not enough to attend to all the events. There were just too many going on that we had to pick and choose what our daily schedule would be to maximize our KCON experience. Overall this trip was another one for the books. We may be disappointed in some areas but the bottom line is we had a really great time! I think the most wonderful experience in this is both Ruth and myself having to celebrate our years of friendship again through our love for the Korean culture. Even after we flew back home the euphoria and excitement stayed with us. I think we were both already looking forward to next year’s KCON!
Have you been to KCON or a similar conference? What was it like?