As a first time attendee at KCON, two jam-packed days were filled with so much to do in so little time that it was impossible to go to all the workshops and panels. Anything that was Hallyu related was there. For those in love with Korean dramas, K-pop choreography, hair and makeup, and food (which should be everyone), there was something for YOU!
My trip to KCON began at the LAX airport. Waiting at the international terminal at the LAX airport was an experience that I’d never thought I would ever do. But since I had time and was waiting for the other crew members to arrive, why not? In hopes to get a glimpse of K-pop stars, fans were eagerly waiting at the arrivals area. After a few hours of patiently waiting, I heard the excited screams of fans. One of the K-pop groups were in the vicinity but I had no idea who they were. As they got closer fans swarmed around a group of boys who turned out to be BTS! My heart was racing from partially feeling claustrophobic from the swarming fans, and excited that actual K-pop stars had just walked by me!
Saturday began at 6am. Curiously, I checked Twitter and Instagram to get the latest updates on KCON. From the social media posts, people were already in a moderately long line to get into the venue. This was a 6am and the gates did not officially open until 8am. Some attendees had been out there since 5 in the morning! Now that’s some real dedication!
The people who waited in line that early were pretty smart. One, they got in and beat the crowds and two, the sun was not out yet. Half our crew arrived early before the gates opened while the other half, which included me arrived later.
Initially discouraged by the long wait in the sun, I decided to make the most of it by making new friends in line. Everyone at KCON has at least one thing in common: a love for K-pop. This made it surprisingly easy to begin conversation with anyone. I met two friends who were attending together. Conversing about various topics of K-pop made time fly by faster than expected. We talked about our favorite K-pop groups, Simon and Martina from Eat Your Kimchi, and how this year’s KCON would compare to last year’s.
Stepping into KCON, I would have never thought that the people attending would be more than just Asian. My view of K-pop fans was skewed, given the fact that I live in the Bay Area in a city that has a large Asian population. I was amazed of the diversity of the attendees. Have I been living under a rock all this time? Attendees sported shirts and accessories supporting their favorite artist. At the next level some attendees dressed in costume inspired by their favorite K-pop stars.
One of my favorite unofficial performances was outside one of the vendor booths at the market. K-pop music was blasting from the speakers and representatives from the booth provided entertainment by dancing to songs by EXO, Girls Generation, and BTS. The fun part about this was the people who jumped in from the rom the sidelines and began dancing with them. It was fun seeing the diversity of people who knew the choreography and the spectators cheering them on.
Next to one of the workshop tents there was a man who was part of the KCON security team. While dancing to the K-pop music with a smile on his face, he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere. This guy did not look like a typical K-pop fan and he probably was just there for the job. But I’m glad that he was having fun.
Even before the concert began, fans would scream (especially at G-Dragon’s “Coup d’etat”) whenever a video of one of the K-pop headliners would appear on the screen above the stage. If this was even remotely loud, I anticipated the noise level would be much louder during the actual performance sets.
Like many fans, the closest I have ever come to K-pop artists is from my laptop screen. Being able to enjoy their dance skills and choreography live actually looks so much better than it does on a computer screen. The neon glowsticks flickered as fans waved them to the beat of the music. From all the excited noise I thought I would go deaf after two nights of concerts, but luckily any symptoms of losing my hearing went away in a few minutes!
Everyone who came out to KCON 2014 was like one big extended family. It feels good to know that we don’t live in an isolated world where most of our interactions we have with each other is through the internet whether it be on fan sites, or the comments section on YouTube. For just one weekend K-pop fans from near and far came together to have fun, enjoy K-pop, and the Hallyu wave as one.