Walking into the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, one is immediately met with crowds of people, waiting in line for tickets with palpable excitement. This year, KCON LA saw over 76,000 attendees - the largest turnout since KCON’s beginnings five years ago. All fans of Hallyu - the Korean wave of traditional and pop-culture - could enjoy different pop-up shops at the exhibition hall, which included everything from Korean beauty products, to cafes where customers could be whisked away in a fantasy straight out of a Korean drama as they are served coffee and tea by beautiful flower boys. KCON goers eagerly received makeovers to look just like their favourite K-pop stars, while next door there was a dance floor where everyone could show off the choreography of famous Kpop songs. At the same time, Youtube stars such as LeenaDproductions, JREKML, and Clothesencounters conducted meetups with fans. The entire hall buzzed with energy. Outside of the hall, fans with premium tickets lined up to high-five famous K-pop singers; the smiles of their favourite idol groups provided them with the energy to beat the LA summer heat.
Attendees could also refresh themselves just a short walk away with food and drinks from the K-town night market, held right outside the Staples Center. The night market offered a variety of Korean foods - ddukbokki (spicy rice cakes), bibimbap(rice bowls), and even Korean barbeque. Many KCON goers could be seen enjoying these foods later in the day as they waited in line for the Staples Center doors to open for the highlight of the convention - the M Countdown concert.
The concert was held on both days of the convention, and on both days, lines of fans wrapped around the arena, reaching all the way across the street to the LA Convention Center. The venue was at capacity all the way to the upper tiers. While many of the performers, such as TTS and Block B, were KCON veterans, this year also saw several newer idols’ first KCON LA appearances - acts such as I.O.I, Twice, and ASTRO proved to be fun and bubbly additions to the lineup, while singer-songwriter Dean amazed crowds with his effortless charisma. There were first performances of all kinds: soloist Amber performed her self-composed English song “Borders,” which touched fans with her message of overcoming hardships. Eric Nam sang his single “Into You” with KOLAJ, putting the audience in a romantic mood. Among the first-time KCON LA performers, TURBO was a welcome throwback to the Kpop scene of the 90s, and the crowd cheered as they sang their most famous songs. The arena was filled with the deafening screams from the audience;the crowd would get louder as each act came on stage. The idols performed their most recent and most famous songs, which were met with synchronised fan chants, regardless of whether they knew the language or not. In this way, attendees witnessed the power of music and Korean pop culture.
Shinee prepared and revitalised the crowd for Day 2 of the convention as they closed the show with their song “Everybody,” while BTS brought an end to the convention at the following day’s concert. No one could say that the final show of the convention finished without a bang. The crowd was so energised, so pumped, that the music was turned up to accommodate the sheer volume of the excitement. The concert was a truly unforgettable experience, and a sight to behold.
- By Seoul Journal Intern Christen Kang
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