By Emlyn Travis
Set over a weekend in both LA & NY, KCON is essentially the Coachella of K-pop. It brings in fans from across the country, and is one of the biggest events where you can see your favorite idols up close and personal and even meet them in hi-touches. But with endless rows of convention booths, tons of artists performing each night, and panels running everyday, it’s easy to get lost in the beautiful chaos that is trying to responsibly navigate KCON and end up skipping or missing something you really wanted to see.
But have no fear; we at K-Pop TV have created a list of seven ways to get the most of your trip to KCON, so that next year you can be ready to take the festival by storm!
1. Do Your Research!
Unless you are k-pop master, it’s likely there are a few groups you haven’t heard of on the set list for each night’s concert. Whether it’s a rookie group or a solo artist, it’s good to get to know a song or two so you can get a feel for their musical style prior to the show.
One way to do this, especially if you’re driving great distances to attend the convention, is to make a fun playlist with every group’s most recent comeback. A warning though: listening to new k-pop groups because of KCON can end up with you becoming a fan of that group (See: Emlyn and Monsta X at KCON last year)!
2. Download the App!
Did you know KCON has its own app? It’s loaded with the schedule of the next three days, including panel times, a convention map, and important information like what you’re allowed to bring into the concert each night. The app is also the only way to find out about free merchandise raffles, or if a group will make a secret visit to a convention booth, like when Wanna One visited the Innisfree booth this year! Use it to keep up with whichever panels you want to see and you’ll feel a lot more organized throughout the weekend.
3. Attend Your Fan Meeting!
Sometimes liking k-pop can feel isolating. If you’re the only fan of k-pop in your friend group and are worried about attending KCON alone, don’t worry! This is what fan meet ups are for!
Fan meetings are the best way to meet people who love your favorite group too. The coordinator of the meeting will often have fun icebreaker games like dancing to songs, group trivia, and even free goodies to share with other fans. So don’t be shy and stop by, you could make lasting friendships to enjoy the rest of the weekend with.
4. Travel Light!
There is one rule to KCON: bring as little as possible. Not only will your back thank you for not having to carry around a heavy backpack all day, but on the second night’s concert, KCON cut back on the size of backpacks allowed inside the venue. To make it easier for yourself, only carry the essentials: your phone, charger, wallet, lightstick, etc!
5. Trade Up!
You purchased tickets and scratched off your raffle ticket for artist engagement only to find… it’s not your bias group. Don’t panic! It’s very commonplace to trade artist engagement passes with other fans on or around the convention floor.
Make sure to attend the convention early and bring a pen and paper that’s large enough that you can show what you’re trading and what for (like ‘HAVE VIXX, WANT OH MY GIRL’). Some people choose to sit and wave the sign around, while other’s walk around and take in the convention, but it’s likely you can trade to get into the engagement you want! Didn’t get an artist engagement, but still want in? You can trade fan engagements for cash as well.
6. Bring Your Own…
If you’re a hardcore fan of a group and want to really show your allegiance at KCON, it’s better to bring your own things to the concert than to try to buy them at the convention. One prime example is lightsticks! KCON does sell a lightstick, but it only has three different color settings: red, blue and green. So if your favorite group is ASTRO, whose fan color is purple, you would be out of luck. You could purchase the group’s official lightstick online, but if you’re short on time, you can also stop by a nearby party store to pick up a glowstick in your group’s color for a much cheaper price point. Have fun showing your group pride at the concert and make sure to memorize a few fanchants, too!
7. Be Flexible and Have Fun!
Potentially the most important point, being flexible and open to every opportunity at KCON, because they can lead to some amazing memories! Whether that’s stopping someone who’s wearing your favorite group’s shirt, asking your favorite YouTuber a question at their panel, or participating in one of the many games in the convention hall, there is so much to do and see at KCON. If you’re open to having a good time, listening to good music, and munching on good food, you will. Enjoy!