KCON 2014 recently hit its third year mark on August 9th and 10th at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Center, proving that it has definitely grown in both presence and the number of attendees. With an estimated count of between 40,000 to 42,000 con-goers, the K-Pop and K-culture oriented, two-day convention (with an included two nights of concerts) definitely met our expectations of a great experience.
The list of activities ranged from numerous panels, giveaways, and special guests, to fun workshops, Danny from L.A. tapings, exciting performances, and surprise idol appearances throughout the day. If you weren’t able to attend this event, then you should check out our highlights from Saturday below.
As is commonplace with a large following, the line for checking in was intense and very formidable. By 10 a.m. (when the venue was supposed to be open), fans lined up for more than a block’s worth of distance. Some con-goers reported to having to wait for more than two hours.
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However, after everyone slowly trickled in, they were greeted with quite a number of activities, from panels to KCON’s very first public Marketplace, which was even open to those who didn’t possess a ticket. The Marketplace was definitely quite the successful introduction, as hordes of fans bought food, drinks, and merchandise while meeting new friends and enjoying performances from the outdoor stage.
Inside the event, multiple tents of panels and workshops, and Danny from L.A.’s stage dominated the landscape, along with the waiting area for the fan engagement events with artists and red carpet.
Overall, the panels that KPOPme attended were very interesting and great learning experiences, and the fan interactions witnessed were fun and enjoyable. Day one was pretty wonderful!
Danny from L.A. Taping
K-Pop fans once again were lucky enough to be part of a Danny from L.A.‘s live taping at KCON 2014. These tapings are becoming a tradition at KCON and are sought out by fans, as Danny and Dumbfounded have celebrity guests! They get you closer to your favorite idol, and Saturday’s guests were none other than VIXX and B1A4.
The tapings are very fun because the hosts interview the idols and have them play games. They even invite fans from the audience to join on stage and participate. One lucky girl was able to gain a hug from VIXX’s Leo after winning an aegyo competition against a male fan. However, the fanboy was just as lucky, for he also received a hug from Ravi. But the members weren’t exempt; Danny had them do aegyo for the audience as well. Furthermore, VIXX had an English asking game, which they completely bombed, but the fans found utterly adorable.
Moreover, B1A4’s appearance was also really fun. After they introduced themselves to the audience, they immediately did the sprout dance. They were tested in their English knowledge and pick up lines. Even Baro got everyone excited and laughing when he did his aegyo. Sandeul was definitely the funniest member, since he wasn’t even trying to be funny, and yet, his clumsiness and charisma gained everyone’s heart. At the end, a lucky girl had the chance to be drawn by B1A4, and she thanked them with a gift of her own.
Despite wanting to, KPOPme’s staff was unable to attend every panel presented at the convention, but here’s a summary of the ones we did attend and found most interesting.
All About Hallyu Media
Starting right from 11 a.m. was this panel, headed by representatives of different media outlets: Adrienne Stanley (KpopStarz), Jeff Benjamin (Billboard), June Saladino (Hallyu Magazine), Kim Lee (247 Asian Media), and Ranier Ramirez (Soompi), with Morgan Lynzi as the hostess for the occasion. Everyone discussed the spread of K-Pop into mainstream and traditional media, as well as its growth, and went over how putting a unique twist on K-Pop content was important for Hallyu media outlets to gain momentum. Jeff added that it was important to create a network, but also listen to fans and pay attention to the content that they share.
When asked about difficulties in Hallyu, Kim talked about how people would be surprised about her involvement with what seems to be a different culture. Adrienne commented on her difficulties as a film critic, as the Korean distribution network posed a challenge towards America, especially when she reviewed a film that “75 percent of America has no access to.” Jeff moved onto to business relations, as media infrastructure in Korea differs greatly from American media, and he brought up the issue of trying to create a “happy medium” between two different cultures.
When a question was raised about changing media content due to changing times, Adrienne expressed that she had noticed a shift amongst artist representation “moving away from written to video interviews” to reach wider audiences. Jeff mentioned an additional shift in articles, talking about quality content, and offered some meaningful advice:
Have something to say. If you don’t have something to say, don’t write about it.
To close things off, Jeff, being the most talkative of the panelists, concluded his comments with him being “inspired by the power of words” and wanting to “break people’s minds” with his writing and content. Adrienne finished up the panel with recommending that media and potential media look to and utilize social media in order to break out in the Hallyu industry, emphasizing the importance of social websites in this time period.
SSIN (Creator Group), Candiie Wish, and Brianna Newman (KPop Aholic) were in charge of this panel, providing information and helpful tips on getting the best cosplay look with makeup, accessories, and more, as well as advice on where to purchase products and their favorite makeup and contacts brands. Cosplay 101 took place right after All About Hallyu Media ended, at 11:30 a.m.
SSIN gave a lucky fan a GD makeover, with emphasis on the eyes and a little cross on the cheek. Here’s some pictures of the process:
Hallyu Culture Shock
When it comes to Hallyu’s growth into international proportions, there’s always going to be a culture shock. Euny Hong (The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture), Grace Park and Stephanie Maing (Crazy Korean Cooking), Amos Yi (YouTuber), and Christian Oh (KOMO Enterprises, LLC) took on this topic at 1 p.m. and extensively covered all the aspects related to the Hallyu wave and its experiences through movies, dramas, actors, and idols.
They all agreed that the reason for the popularity of Hallyu was due to its enjoyable facets; Euny talked about how the Korean cinema export was “tiny but innovative,” and Christian built upon that comment by bringing up the issue of “Hollywood directors taking ideas from Korean cinema” and oftentimes failing. Stephanie expressed her joy at how Hallyu brought “people together from all different backgrounds to celebrate cultures” and added that geography definitely helped with integration, especially with a large K-Pop fandom outside of Korea.
In addition to just K-Pop, Christian brought back the origin of Hallyu with the Chinese market opening up Korean entertainment exports leading to acceptance in the U.S. However, according to the panelists, the issue with Americans not being fully accepting of Korean entertainment or foreign entertainment in general was due to the fact that Americans don’t like subtitles and are “used to export, not import.”
When asked what they though were some negative parts in Hallyu, Amos decided to go with the plastic surgery trend, saying how it didn’t and shouldn’t represent Korea. Stephanie jumped in with her disappointment in the lack of popularity outside of K-Pop, bringing to attention underground bands that “needed exposure,” like Galaxy Express, who would attend SXSW (South by Southwest) but not KCON. In addition to underground bands, Christian expressed his wish for the rise in popularity of hip hop and talked about the import and export of popularity is due to how the fans advocate. Euny took a different turn and shared her dislike of the high usage of BB cream, of which she said was “basically concealer” and used “too much.”
When the topic of sexy comebacks and why they exist popped up, the panelists all looked at one another as if they had the same thoughts. Christian was the first to speak, simply by saying “sex sells,” to which the panel and the rest of the seated fans agreed. Euny, while not disagreeing with Christian, brought up another interesting aspect of how “lack of sex sells” more to international fans, who usually want to get away from some of the crude pop culture in America. Stephanie added that she felt as if the idols had “manufactured sexiness” that didn’t seem natural or fit them.
Technology has definitely affected Hallyu in a positive way, and the panelists agreed whole-heartedly. Amos described the change from watching TV to watching things online and on YouTube, with the increase in mobility of technology, and Grace talked about how K-dramas help spread Korean culture and especially food, as people gain more interest. Euny, who’s already done her research of Korea, talked about how the country puts in “Jurassic level research in entertainment” alone, because they actually understand where their profit comes from.
To wrap things up, the panel went over other elements besides K-Pop that should rise in popularity as the Hallyu wave grows. Euny couldn’t avoid talking about games, which make up a large percentage of sports in Korea and are “11 times more popular than K-Pop,” just to put it in perspective. Grace added that the fashion and cosmetics industry, which are already popular in Korea, have been spreading internationally and should see an increase in the next couple of years as well, while Stephanie talked about technology in Korea, who is already quite the powerhouse in both efficient and high quality products, like having one of the fastest internet connections in the world.
To finalize the panel, Christian expressed his confidence in the growing presence of Korean sports stars, who get drafted into other countries’ baseball, soccer, and basketball teams. All in all, this panel was perhaps the most educating for a fan new to the Hallyu wave!
Beyond “Almost Paradise”: Into the K-Drama OST
Singer Hee Young, Leah Westbrook (Zombie Mamma), Lindsay Roberts (SEOULBEATS), Rachel Rosenstock, Stephanie Kurze (Crazy for KDrama), and moderator Tanya Rodriguez (Hallyuknow) met at the 2 p.m. mark to discuss the power of OST’s and idol actors at panel tent three.
The panelists discussed the matter of idol actors and idol OST singers in depth. They mentioned how OSTss were important for singers’ careers as a means to widen their options and continue their jobs beyond their idols days. Despite indie artist Hee Young not being an idol herself, she talked about her song, Are You Still Waiting?, being picked up by the drama Lie to Me as its OST, and the doors it had opened for her in said market.
When talking about idol actors, the public consensus among the favorites were B1A4’s Baro and JYJ’s Yoochun. As for idols who they think would make great actors, Leo from VIXX came up and was well received by both the other panelists and the audience.
K-Pop Fandoms of Future Past
How could we forget about the fandoms? 4 p.m. was the time of calling, as Adrienne, Brianna, and Lindsay made a comeback to talk about the maturation of K-Pop fandoms and the decline of certain trends like fan cafes. Adrienne reasoned that this decline was the result of “gaining fans outside of Korea,” and Lindsay explained that those in cafes generally had to “go with rules to be a fan” and liked that this exclusivity has decreased. Adding to the exclusivity of fan cafes was Brianna, who said that “fan cafes lock themselves through not opening to international fans.” Due to this, “people lose interest and don’t feel the need to stay in fan cafes.” Adrienne brought up international fans who “create their own fan sites” and thus bring the fandom to the U.S.
When moving onto the subject of concerts in the U.S., Lindsay talked about how “spending money to support artists and going to events make the companies want to go back” and that it was “expensive and not profitable if not enough fans are going.” True? Definitely. The current lack of Korean artists approaching the U.S., according to Brianna, is because they are “skeptical of American fans” and don’t have the established “trust level” that they have with Korean fans. Of course, as Brianna said, it “also depends on the company.” Adrienne commented on how big of a “challenge” it was “to get things done because it takes time” in regards to concerts and meet-ups, but, “when fans come together, companies recognize the effort,” such as the Paris’ flashmobs that ultimately resulted in Super Junior concerts.
The different treatment between I-fans and K-fans was also brought up, as Lindsay expressed her sadness in how the global fandom feels isolated when the domestic fans get to go to fansigns and meet-and-greets more often and have longer periods of interaction with the idols. However, Adrienne optimistically reminded everyone that “media perspective” changes “what’s expected” of international fans and bring more awareness and better images of global fans in general.
BTS came up in the panel’s discussion as they went over the huge international fanbase of the male group. Adrienne provided simple reasoning for this phenomenon: “K-Pop combined with hip hop appeals to international fans.” As for international fans in general, with SM’s latest development of opening EXO’s fanbase (EXO-L) globally, Lindsay agreed that it was very good marketing. Adrienne happily enthused about the meeting of different cultures through K-Pop as a result, and everyone concluded that it would be very profitable for companies to cater to international fans more in these coming years.
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