KCON USA presented by Toyota kicked off its 3-day Los Angeles event on Friday, July 29th. Hello Asia! was on hand to witness the marvels of All Things Hallyu at KCON LA – here’s a quick run-down on the Friday pre-game happenings. The convention begins in earnest on Saturday!
10. Korean indie rock might be gearing up to be the next wave in Hallyu. The Convention Stage (the stage inside the Convention Floor) hosted three indie rock acts on Friday: Love X Stereo (electro rock), Dead Buttons (punk), and Sultan of the Disco (neo-disco). Each group drew-in passers by, proving their charisma and quality jams are irresistible – and each band walked away with a few new fans. Hello Asia got to chat briefly with each group – so watch for those interviews coming soon! (Underground hip hop duo Eluphant will be performing on Saturday, as well! The K-indie tide is rising!)
9. Speaking of the Convention Floor… Forget the panels, you can easily spend all day just exploring on the all the booths! Shopping, games, give-aways, gadgets, tech demos and MORE! From Toyota to TonyMoly to Tous Les Jours – there are a ton of company to visit and play with.
8. BEAUTY IS EVERYWHERE! One whole corner of the Convention Floor is designated as the “Beauty Block” – but wait! There’s more! Skin and cosmetic vendors are tucked into almost every corner of the hall.
7. NOMS ARE ON FLEEK. L.A.’s beloved K-Town Night Market has corralled a lush posse of local food trucks and mobile eateries to feed hungry convention go-ers and passers-by. The zoned area between Staples Center and Convention Center is called the KCON Food Street and it is a place of wonder, magic, and deliciousness. Trucks and booths still had lines well past 8pm on Friday night, creating a great atmosphere. An excellent way to close out Day 1!
6. Meet & Greet Ticket Swap: the struggle is real! Friday events didn’t begin until 1pm, but already at 10am (possibly earlier) fans waited around holding handmade signs pleading to exchange Meet & Greet tickets for X group for Y group. The tickets are handed out randomly when attendees pick up their KCON registration packets and concert tickets. Just like with those member cards stuffed randomly into K-pop CDs – sometimes you gotta trade to get your bias.
5. Platinum ticket purchases were treated to a new feature this year: KCON Flower Boy Cafe, complete with bouncers. Only Platinum ticket purchases are allowed to enter and be served refreshments by handsome young men. (Same concept as Hooters, but gender swapped and with more clothing.) For the uninitiated in this idealized type of male, see any of the following Korean dramas: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Flower Boy Next Door, the forthcoming Hwarang, and of course, the OG of flower boys dramas – Boys Over Flowers.
4. KCON is a Family Affair! More noticeable this year is a high ratio of mothers/daughters couples in attendance — and attending together. Visiting booths together, going to panels together, dancing together at Klub KCON in the evening. Hallyu has attracted multi-generational fans for some time, but now -in the U.S.- mothers and daughters are bonding through Korean Wave.
3. Newbie R&B singer DEAN is officially the new It Boy -well one of the It Boys- if the screams that greeted him on stage at Klub KCON are any indication. The boyish crooner obliterated fangirl hearts with two songs, which caused fangirl vocal chords to obliterate the eardrums of everyone in the venue.
2. BTS has the power to get middle-aged Novo security guards jumping. N.O. inspired at least one security guard to get down and get funky in the back of the venue. It was adorable. If he wasn’t an ARMY before, he surely is now!
1. K-pop fans are some of the happiest fans on earth (and without the use of controlled substances! Stick K-pop fans in a room with a big screen projecting music videos and they have almost as much fun as if the groups were playing live. Maybe because for many fans in the U.S., listening to kpop is a solitary experience (imagine being the only K-pop fan in your town), and there are not many public spaces where K-pop get’s played for dance or other enjoyment. The Friday night cap, Klub KCON held this year at The Novo, is a rare opportunity for fans to revel in squee and dance to all their favorite songs in a sea of comrades.
Photos courtesy of CJ E&M