After four years of hearing the question “Why not New York?” CJ E&M and MNET America answered our prayers. KCON 2015 graced the New York metro area (The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey to be precise) with its presence for one day; a far cry from the three day extravaganza that Los Angeles was treated to the week before, but none the less KCON came to the East coast.
Because of lack of space within the Prudential Center, the brains behind KCON utilized the streets and area around the venue to host expo booths, panels, and workshops. Although the amount of booths available to visit were few, there was still plenty to do between the fan engagements, workshops and panels. There were booths where you could try on and take pictures in hanboks (traditional Korean clothes,) eat ddukbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes) and various other exhibitors doing raffles where attendees could win prizes. There were also vendors selling fan-made goods and band merchandise as well as fan group booths to visit.
Throughout the day, one of the most popular booths, other than the food vendors, would have to have been the Toyota (one of the convention’s sponsors) tent where people could dance along to their favorite K-Pop video and get a prize. At one point, idol group Teen Top stopped by the tent for a photo op right before their fan engagement.
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The K-Pop Festival booth was another place to be; there was a DJ blasting non-stop K-pop hits and throwing out random prizes into the audience. It was not uncommon to see people randomly bust a move in the middle of the street when their favorite song came on. Although there was enough things to walk around and see, the variety of exhibitors and vendors cannot be compared to that of KCON LA. According to CJ E&M America’s Chief Marketing Officer, most of the exhibitors and vendors are based on the west coast or in Korea so traveling the extra distance to the east coast made things difficult.
Additionally, the lack of space available was a challenge to host anything on the scale that’s similar to KCON LA. Another factor that greatly affected KCON NY was the fact that CJ E&M America and most of the other groups involved in putting KCON together are not based on the east coast. They are not familiar with the area, the venues, or the companies and vendors that are willing to participate with an event like KCON. Hopefully by seeing the success the exhibitors had this year, there will be more exhibitors and vendors willing to set up booths for the following years.
PANELS and WORKSHOPS
The panels and workshops at KCON NY were similar to the ones that were held at KCON LA. Fans got to sit down and hear what industry insiders had to say about certain topics like Korean rap and American crossovers, or to catch up with their favorite YouTube stars. The ever popular Korean beauty routines were also taught in the workshops, which gave attendees a chance to get out of the sun and relax a bit between events.
The New York KPOP Festival held a mini event that even those who did not have a ticket to the MNET concert could attend. With the party like atmosphere, K-pop fans enjoyed music and dance acts from different groups and performers. Finalists from online polls also competed to be the opener at that night’s MNET concert, and with the special appearance of VIXX’s N as a judge made fans extra excited.
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As the debut appearance of KCON on the east coast, it seemingly went off without any major problems. Seeing the success of KCON LA and KCON NY; there was a combined attendance of about 75,000 people, no small feat for anyone. Hopefully it will bring more interest in the festival and K-pop in general. Being able to create an event that is more than just a concert, but actually give fans a chance to get more involved with the culture that they love is a great thing. Not to mention the friendly and harmonious environments that was created by the organizers and attendees would make anyone proud.