This past weekend, Los Angeles’ Exposition Park saw the presence of thousands of fans for KCON 2014, looking to delve into different aspects of Korean culture with food, music, and overall entertainment. While most of the panels and workshops gave attendees great insight on several topics, it’s safe to say that everyone who purchased a ticket for KCON did it with the intention of seeing the artists in the incredible two-day lineup for M! Countdown.
But whether it was the concert or the convention itself, KCON was a great learning experience filled with eye-opening facts. Here’s a short list of that:
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1. BTS is the new/next EXO
Before inciting EXO-L (exotics?), let’s look at the facts: If you attended KCON last year, you’ll remember the sea of fans wearing EXO apparel at the event and the frenzy the boys created at the concert. They were so arduous that it was even easier to hear the fans singing along to Wolf rather than the group itself.
This happened again this year, but with BTS. Throughout the day, ARMY could be easily spotted from their fan apparel and cosplay. And who could forget the wails heard throughout the arena once the boys levitated from the platform, or even the fan chants (which don’t necessarily always happen at U.S. events)? This made Rap Monster’s reiteration of their group’s name sound funny when it was clear that half of the audience was there to see them.
2. Eric Nam is the friendliest idol ever
Viki brought Eric Nam to KCON as their special guest, where he held meet-and-greets with fans on each day of the convention. Furthermore, he also served as the host for the two red carpet events (one for each day), where fans and press met the artists for quick questions and pictures.
During the fan meetings, the line at the Viki tent extended well into other areas of the Marketplace. Many fans lined for their chance to get a selfie with Eric, since this was open to everyone and didn’t require a card like the other fan meetings with the performing artists. Eric received every fan with a great smile, seemed genuinely thankful when hearing compliments, and was as chatty as ever.
Furthermore, during the red carpet events, Eric interacted with the fans more so than the featured artists themselves. He responded to their screams, sang bits of Ooh, Ooh, and even stayed behind after the event ended to take many pictures with fans.
3. Taeyeon seemed fazed about her first performance post-scandal
KCON marked Girls’ Generation member Taeyeon’s first concert appearance since hell broke loose with her dating scandal involving EXO’s Baekhyun. Right from the start, the leader had a somber look and didn’t appear as her fierce self, seeming a bit disengaged when she opened up their set with Mr. Mr. Was she reluctant about the audience’s response? Did she fear another black ocean? We might never know, but what we do know is that, by the end of their performance, Taeyeon had warmed up to the audience. Maybe this was due to fans’ holding up messages commemorating Girls’ Generation seventh anniversary, saying they would always support the group. Or maybe the fans’ reception of them and their songs gave her confidence. But, again, this is only speculation.
4. What you see is what you get with Jung Joon Young
Throughout Jung Joon Young’s multiple KCON appearances, the rocker made it a point to separate himself from the idols joining him on stage. How he did this? Well, by being real — or realer, for that matter. During the Danny from L.A. taping and the red carpet event on August 9th, Joon Young repeatedly said he felt sleepy and showed no signs of fake amusement. Even at the red carpet, when Eric tried to get some kind of emotion out of him, Joon Young stuck to his guns and only proclaimed that he was tired, and smiling for fans and photographers briefly. While this kind of behaviour would be seen as rude from idols, it serves the rocker’s bad boy image that we see in similar artists.
5. IU’s English is very good
Despite IU being pretty well-established in Korea, KCON was the singer’s first U.S. performance. In order to introduce herself to American fans for the first time, IU spoke exclusively in English, apologizing for what she thought was sub-par English. This, of course, wasn’t true. Compared to other acts, IU was a native speaker. While she was hesitant upon every uttered word, her deliverance was spot on and intelligible.
6. Asian American acts featured were very talented and popular
The Asian American Artists panel at the convention featured rappers Shin-B and DANakaDan, producer Jeff Bernat, and singer Jhammel, highlighting the acts’ popularity among con-goers. They all even held fan meets and performances on the outdoor and main stage throughout the weekend with great turnouts, which showcased not only their innate talent, but their ability to hold their own in an event with foreign language-speaking headliners.
7. Video games are Korea’s number one cultural export, not K-Pop
When you hear “Hallyu,” the first thing that generally comes to mind is K-Pop, right? I mean, the Korean Wave’s poster child has to be Korea’s number one cultural export. Wrong. As Euny Hong points out in her book, The Birth of Korean Cool, and at the Hallyu Culture Shock panel, in which she participated, Korea’s main cultural exports are video games, not K-Pop. This came as a surprise for an audience who was used to the association of “Hallyu” and “K-Pop” together. Truly eye-opening, indeed.
After a pretty good experience on Saturday, the first day of KCON 2014 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, expectations were high for the following day on August 10th. Needless to say, fans definitely enjoyed themselves throughout this two-part convention and concert event. Here’s our review on the highlights during the day!
The line wasn’t as bad in terms of aesthetic appeal on Sunday (it didn’t stretch across a block or so around the venue), but it was still a force to be reckoned with. Luckily, it was an easier process as most of the con-goers bought tickets for both days.
As mentioned before, the Marketplace was quite the popular spot for fans waiting for the convention gates to open at 10 a.m., as everyone checked out the booths, food trucks, and outdoor stage. In contrast to Saturday, which had many G-Dragon fans, Sunday brought forth a large population of the Girls’ Generation and BTS fandom, which made up a majority of the attendees.
In the beginning, day two appeared to be more organized with less crowds than day one, but, upon the time of the concert, three ambulances showed up by the entrance to the venue. It was certainly a shocking sight, but it seemed like everything was under control by the time the concert began.
Much like the previous day, the second day of the convention offered more workshops, panels, performances on the outdoor stage, Danny from L.A tapings, a red carpet event, fan meetings with artists, and much more.
Danny from L.A. taping
Due to our busy schedule, KPOPme unfortunately missed BTS’ Danny From L.A. taping. But thankfully we were right on time to see Korean rocker Jung Joon Young‘s appearance. Different from idol groups, Jung Joon Young’s presence was very laid back. He kept his really cool I don’t care appearance. His English was very fluent and natural that he even forgot that it was being taped and constantly used curse words, which kept everyone in the audience laughing.
He played a game with Danny and Parker in which they had to drink lime juice and soy sauce and see who would last longer without making a bitter face. Ultimately, Jung Joon Young won and the audience cheered for him.
Here are some pictures from the taping:
Similar to the fan engagements, access to this event required attendees winning a pass on their scratch off cards given in their goodie bags. And the despite the events with artists being closed off to press, the red carpet was not. Photographers lined the first row of barriers separating the public from the artists, while the fans were situated behind press and another barrier.
Eric Nam hosted the event, introducing each act, adding his funny commentary, and just being his adorkable self. The red carpet featured the acts that would perform at M! Countdown that night, including BTS, CNBLUE, SPICA, and Girls’ Generation, as well as actors Lee Seung Gi and Lee Seo Jin.
As each artist came out, Eric would interview them for a little bit, and then the first would pose for pictures. Some of the acts, when coming out, would pause to greet fans who stood closer to the door. Stay tuned for we will later post a video from this event so you can see for yourself all that happened!
By the end of the event, Eric stayed behind and took many, many pictures with fans, despite this not being part of the show and him having a fan meeting at the Viki tent earlier on the day and the previous day.
Check out some of our pictures from the red carpet event:
Discussion: The Best and Brightest Rookies
One of the first panels of the day took place at 11 a.m., called the Best & Brightest Rookie Groups, with Johnny Au (The Au Review), White Boy KPOP, Nadia Leong (TGM Events), Lyra Jazmine (Hallyu LA), Colleen Lee (Japako Music), and June Saladino (Hallyu Magazine) taking charge of discussing rookies in the industry.
Statistically speaking, Johnny brought up the issue of how, generally, only five percent of rookies make it in the industry; he took the time to ask the panelists to each give their opinion on the low number. White Boy KPOP talked about how rookies often took on concepts that didn’t work, while Lyra and Nadia both decided that it was dependent on the companies. June referred to White Boy KPOP when saying that appealing to the global music style was important in order to succeed, and Nadia added, “Korean agencies don’t listen” to our recommendations and advice, looking back on 100%’s unfortunately named 2nd mini album, BANG the BUSH. Colleen also emphasized on a working concept and built upon that idea by saying how music stages also need to work with the group as well.
When moving onto what made rookies succeed, Nadia took no time in simply saying that they have to be “really pretty or talented,” with the other panelists agreeing and adding that having both attributes ups the ante for success. She referred to EXO as an example; although they had some recent issues, she said that they had “no visual flaws” and thus gained a lot of popularity. In regards to newer, highly popular rookies, White Boy KPOP couldn’t help mentioning BTS due to their overwhelming “charisma, confidence, and stage presence,” to which the panel and the crowd unanimously agreed.
Of course, failed trainees and their outcomes were the next topic at hand; the panelists lightheartedly talked about how these specific trainees end up as stylists, back-up dancers, or just move on to other groups. This led to different tangents of conversation, as questions were raised about companies targeting specific areas or countries and reaching out to publications about upcoming rookies. SM Entertainment was brought up in terms of dominating the Chinese market, as Nadia talked about how they actually created Chinese headquarters to ensure that EXO would have no problems with performing in the country. She pointed out that, due to SM’s control of China, YG focused on Japan while JYP looked towards Thailand for popularity.
The panel then went over shock tactics for rookies and the increase of shocking debuts as time passes, bringing up WASSUP’s “twerking” and A.KOR member Kemy’s diss rap towards Park Bom. To close off the panel, everyone talked about their favorite rookies, with GOT7, WINNER, Kiss & Cry, Red Velvet, Megan Lee, Bob Girls, Mamamoo, and Royal Pirates being some of the honorable mentions.
Cooking with Crazy Korean Cooking
Right after this was Crazy Korean Cooking’s interactive cooking panel at 11:30 a.m., in which they made kimchi fried rice and hotteok (sweet Korean pancake) for the crowd to sample. Volunteers were asked to come and help Grace Park and Stephanie Maing as they put their multitasking skills to the test, talking about ingredients, Korea’s food culture and history, and cooking the very delicious food, all at the same time. Much like in their videos, the ladies were a comedy duo that retained all their seriousness in food while making everyone laugh with timely jokes.
In addition to showing the panel attendees how to cook the featured dishes, Grace and Stephanie went over the health benefits of foods like kim (seaweed), giving out some sheets to hesitant newcomers to try out the ingredient that would be going into their kimchi fried rice. KPOPme had a hands on experience with the panel and helped out with making hotteok as Grace cooked the kimchi fried rice while Stephanie fed hungry fans. By the end of the panel, the food on the plates was wiped clean, and the crowd happily applauded the ladies for their hard work.
Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Crazy Korean Cooking, as KPOPme asked these ladies about their KCON experience, current missions, and future goals.
Asian American Artists
As the Danny from L.A. taping featuring Jung Joon Young took place over at the Mnet Square at 1 p.m., panel tent one garnished a sizable amount of attendees looking to hear and see rappers Shin-B and DANakaDAN, singer Jhameel, producer Jeff Bernat, and moderator Christian Oh. More than focusing on K-Pop, the panelists addressed being of Asian descent and making it in the U.S., including the support of their families, the fans, and the industry as a whole.
In regards to promoting yourself, the panelists talked about how Soundcloud was the platform for emerging artists since corporate America hasn’t figured it out, as opposed to Youtube (even though there’s money there, but competition is high). Jeff proclaimed that “Asian Americans are going to be the new face of the music industry… you’ll be seeing a lot of us in the future.” As for already established Asian American acts they look up to, the consensus among the panelists were Dumbfounded and Far East Movement, and Jeff brought up Blue Scholars.
When it comes to art and Asian Americans, the issue of family support often comes up. Shin-B shared her experiences being a female rapper in a world where parents think rap is all about sex, drugs, and misogyny, and that only, and how she has had to work hard to make them change their minds. But Jeff broke it down perfectly by saying, “at the end of the day… don’t listen to your parents about your career… your life, your choices.”
During the audience questions portion of the panel, the topic of the downsides of being associated with K-Pop came up. And while none of the panelists said anything negative about the genre and industry, Jhameel shared some insight by saying, “K-Pop has really good production, like, crazy good… that’s just hard to compete with, but it pushes you [as an artist] as well.” He also talked about K-Pop excelling at branding their idols, and how its hard when fans want to see you under the same standards –especially when you’re pushing for a different image yourself. Shin-B brought into the discussion the matter of because South Korea has the fastest internet connection in the world, trends come and go just as fast, with fans following you one day and gone the next:
It’s very hard to compete in that market because its production value is super up there. [And] for someone that’s not already working with those people that are behind that, it’s very, very hard [to compete], because [the audience] are going to compare you [with them]… It’s very hard to keep [the fans’] interest going.
Because of an audience question, the panel came back to the topic of promoting yourself as an artist. While Dan encouraged people to put yourself and your work out there, Shin-B said, “It’s all about the collaborations. The more we all come together and collaborate on each others’ tracks –there’s power in numbers… it will get more attention.” Jeff agreed with Shin-B and added, “in the art scene, it’s who you know.” He also recommended to meet other artists –even if they’re not big– and make “good music.”
K-Pop’s LGBT Fandom: WE LOVE IT!
This panel gathered a lot of support from the crowd. Special guests AJ O’Day, Andy La, Desmond Kwok, Miles Jai, and Nicola Foti where moderated by Derek Graves. The panel touched bases on how K-Pop idols influence the gay community, and how it has even elevated the way that heterosexual men dress and enables them to wear makeup without being judged.
Continuing on the topic of fashion, Nicola Foti applauded everyone by saying, “[KCON] is the most stylish convention I’ve ever been to!” This got the crowd giving him cheers and screams of support.
After wrapping up the fashion conversation, they went on to a more serious topic. Derek asked the panelist how they felt about Korea not being very accepting of the gay community. Everyone in the panel stated how it was time for a gay idol. Even though the gay community already aspires on K-Pop artists, they really needed an openly gay idol to connect to. They also said they loved how K-Pop brings not only the gay community together, but everyone as a whole.
Fan Art Workshop & Battle!
Shannon Rudder, a fabulous 17-year-old who caught attention at last year’s KCON with a beautiful rendition of the EXO members, headed this workshop at 4 p.m., teaching the crowd about her experience in art and having a draw-along session that featured Girls’ Generation member, Taeyeon.
Due to the time restraints, Shannon explained to the attendees that she would focus only on establishing a good outline for her portrait, which was blown up on a large easel to help those in the back. She gave everyone paper and pencils, along with other options for drawing: B1A4’s Jinyoung and VIXX’s N.
From beginning to end, Shannon went over basics of drawing, like how to establish proportions and having an eased hand to maintain control. She also brought up her own experiences in art: “I’ve always liked drawing.” It was only when she “was a freshman in highschool that [she] learned how to draw,” and it was very obvious to see that Shannon truly has a knack for art.
In regards to the K-Pop fandom, Shannon expressed happiness that “fan art” was “alive in the community,” adding how she really enjoyed looking at other pieces of fanwork and having this connection with so many other people.
For the battle portion of this workshop, the participants were reminded that Shannon would be picking three top pieces to win signed albums (complimentary of KCON). Many fans were new to artwork while others were very experienced, but Shannon’s teaching helped everyone create great works of art in the end. With difficulty in choosing the winners, Shannon finally picked three wonderful artists: Elizabeth Medina, Carina Li, and Ronni Seth. Here’s their happy faces when they found out they had won:
Here’s some of the entries:
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The second filming of M! Countdown 2 Nights in LA at KCON on August 10th began similarly to the first night, with a pre-show hosted by Parker (formerly Dumbfoundead). The rapper introduced two performers: contestants from Dancing 9, who performed two solos and a duet, and Asian American artist Jhameel. Jhameel performed an indie-pop mashup of Fiesty, T-Pain, and Frank Ocean.
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After the pre-show, the M! Countdown show began in earnest, and it was clear from the very first seconds of the concert that BTS was the big winner of the night. While the audience was excited about later acts in the evening, like Girls’ Generation and CNBLUE, BTS was greeted with such fervor and applause that the reaction seemed almost disproportionate for a group that debuted barely a year ago.
With deafening cheers, the audience fully appreciated BTS’ performances of Boy In Luv, No More Dream, We Are Bulletproof pt. 2, I Like It (Pretty Woman ),and Rise of Bangtan. The members of the group had a great stage presence, controlling the attention in the room and setting the tone for the entire night.
The energy that they showed as they danced and interacted with the fans was infectious, and it didn’t feel at all like this was a rookie group. BTS may be a normal rookie group in Korea, but the concert in L.A. that night made it seem like BTS was a leader of Hallyu.
Then, Girls’ Generation member Tiffany took to the stage and proclaimed her awe about the fact KCON was being held in her hometown, L.A. and to introduce the upcoming act. With her appearance, the noise level in the venue dramatically increased; she definitely pushed up the enthusiasm and excitement from the fans.
But following BTS and Tiffany would be hard for any other idol group, so it was perhaps wise planning that the rock singer Jung Joon Young was next in the lineup. If he felt anxious about following such a crowd-inciting act, the rocker didn’t show it. In fact, the general feeling through Jung Joon Young’s performance was that he didn’t care about anything other than his music. Even though he speaks perfect English, the singer slurred his words every time he paused to introduce a new song and seemed eager to get back to performing.
It was clear throughout the set that Jung Joon Young was a musician, first and foremost, and a performer second; it was a completely different feeling than the idol groups that took the stage before and after him. He performed The Sense of An Ending, Hold On, From Me To Me, Teenager, and a Michael Jackson tribute of Black and White with BTS’ leader, Rap Monster.
The girl group SPICA followed Jung Joon Young, made up of five powerhouse vocalists. They may not be the most popular of idol groups, but you wouldn’t have known that based on their performance. SPICA released their first English song, I Did It, last week, and their M! Countdown stage was their debut music show performance in America.
And while SPICA’s dance performances didn’t have as much energy as BTS’ or Jung Joon Young’s, the members’ powerful vocals and sexy bodies had the crowd rioting.
SPICA also sang You Don’t Love Me, Tonight, a melody mash-up of No Diggity, and an absolutely perfect performance of Painkiller. The members were able to alternate between serious and playful moods, while playing up to the crowd’s emotions with each song, earning a lot of applause. Between SPICA and BTS, these two relatively new groups showed KCON that they could keep up with larger and more widely known acts.
During a brief break from the concert, MCs Parker and Jung Joon Young brought out famous Korean actor Lee Seo Jin. Lee Seo Jin expressed his happiness about Korean acts becoming accepted all over the world thanks to Hallyu, to which the MCs agreed and thanked the fans for their support.
Four member idol band CNBLUE then rose to the stage to riotous cheers, as adoring fans clung to the barriers and sung along to the group’s most popular songs. While lead vocalist Yonghwa moved around the stage throughout the performances, switching between two sides of the stadium, the other members remained relatively sedentary. And even though the songs were well known and people were singing along, CNBLUE’s performance was less visually exciting than the other acts.
Even if the members weren’t as active as the idol groups that danced along the stage’s length, CNBLUE’s performance was excellent. Throughout the set, people singing along to Can’t Stop, Intuition, I’m A Loner, Love, and I’m Sorry filled the arena… All eyes were on the four handsome, talented idols.
Jung Joon Young and Danny Im then came out and introduced the night’s headliners: Girls’ Generation. With the entire arena cheering adoration, Girls’ Generation took the stage. Arguably the queens of K-Pop today, eight members of the girl group launched into their most recent hit, Mr.Mr.
The members then introduced themselves, several of them speaking in English. They also addressed Sooyoung’s schedule conflict due to her current drama filming leading to her inability to attend. Nostalgia was on the mind when the ladies surprisingly launched into their older hits, Hoot and Genie.
Tiffany then thanked fans for their support, noticing quite the number of supportive signs commemorating the group’s seventh anniversary, and the idols sang a shot acapella version of their debut song, Into The New World. The evening ended with the entire arena singing and dancing along to Mr. Taxi and, as the most pleasantly astounding ending to a magnificent night, Gee.
While Girls’ Generation’s performance was near flawless, there were two things that caused some concern: Jessica had to rush off stage at one point, causing a bit of confusion. Taeyeon was also visibly tense at the beginning of the performance, although she loosened up throughout the set. Even though there was this slight awkwardness, the eight members of Girls’ Generation finished up their stage to a crowd that couldn’t get enough of them.
No news on who will be performing at the next KCON, but it’s a no brainer that more big names will show up as the convention grows in presence and popularity.
What do you think of the second night of M! Countdown at KCON? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.
Following the day-long convention, the Los Angeles Sports Arena opened its doors to let the throngs of anticipating fans through for the concert portion of KCON 2014 on August 9th. At 7 p.m., Danny Im (formerly of 1TYM), Parker (Dumbfoundead), and rocker Jung Joon Young (who performed at the second night of KCON) began the pre-show, introducing the M! Countdown 2 Nights in L.A. special.
After an introduction, the audience was greeted with original songs by songwriter-performer Jeremy Thurber and a cover of Taeyang’s Eyes, Nose Lips with a dance performance to BEAST’s Good Luck by talented violinist-dancer Jun Sung Ahn.
Lee Seung Gi then took the stage, transitioning to the concert from the pre-show. The singer-turned-actor spoke to the crowd in English, expressing his delight that Korean culture has grown to this point as well as his hopes that Korean culture will continue to spread throughout the world. After Lee Seung Gi’s introduction, the concert began in earnest.
The first act to perform was idol group VIXX, which began its stage with a powerful rendition of Voodoo Doll, props and all. Even though VIXX isn’t one of Hallyu’s top idol groups, the screams that filled the stadium revealed the group’s popularity in the U.S. VIXX, along with the rest of the evening’s acts, performed a total of five songs, and kept the crowd cheering and singing along to hits like On and On, Only U, Light Up The Darkness, and Eternity while the members exuded manly sexiness on stage through their powerful dances.
Korea’s darling IU took the stage next, opening up her performance with a rendition of her hit, Red Shoes. Fittingly, she wore a completely white outfit with bright red shoes that helped her dance across the stage. Like Lee Seung Gi, IU spoke to the audience in a relatively high level of English. As she apologized to the fans for her so-called “poor” language skills that were anything but poor, it was apparent that IU had prepared to meet her US fans for the first time.
While idol groups are the trend in Korea, IU’s performances of You and I and Good Day were extremely well-received. She also performed the rock version of one of her early songs, Hey. Teen Top’s Niel joined IU on stage to sing Friday, which IU originally recorded with History’s Jang Yi Jeong. Not every fan in the room may have known the song, but the upbeat sound of the song combined with IU’s powerful vocals and charming attitude won over the crowd.
B1A4 were the big winners of the night. Fans who already loved the group threw themselves passionately into the performance, singing and dancing along to What’s Happening, Lonely, Solo Day, One Glass of Water, and Baby Goodnight. But even the audience members who didn’t know B1A4 very well got into the enthusiastic songs; it seemed like the entire venue cheered on B1A4’s youthful members. The five members also appeared to be having a lot of fun as the performed, running around the stage and using props, including water guns which they aimed at the audience. It seemed as if not a single person in the stadium was able to remain unaffected by B1A4’s cheerful performance.
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While Teen Top had a tough act to follow, the energy in the room was still high as the idol group performed Rocking, Ms. Right, and then calmed down as the members performed a sexy rendition of To You. Teen Top brought the momentum up once again with Crazy, and then surprised the audience by ending its stage with a fan favorite, Rock Star. While the performance was stellar, audience members appeared confused by the choice of a song that isn’t really well known outside of the Teen Top fandom. It was a good attempt to introduce a lesser known song to international fans, but by the end of the performance, there was apparent tension in the room as fans wanted to hear songs that they were more used to.
There was a momentary lull as Danny and Parker came out once more, and introduced the final act of the evening — BIGBANG’s leader, G-Dragon.
Based on the crowd’s excitement even before G-Dragon took the stage, it would have been very difficult for GD to disappoint his audience. Even had he stood on stage just walking around without making a peep, fans would have been cheering and screaming in adoration. G-Dragon did anything but merely stand on stage; he turned the huge arena into his personal playground. As he performed One of A Kind, Michigo, Who You?, Crooked, and Crayon, G-Dragon took control of the crowd and hardly stood still for a moment, except for a couple periods when he lay down on stage, playing up to the crowd in that corner of the stadium.
While the other acts were enjoyable, G-Dragon’s was a different type of performance entirely; he was an entertainer rather than an idol, who was able to make everyone in the room pay attention to him. His stage included the most special effects, but it was G-Dragon’s large personality and provocative songs and style that had fans jumping in their seats. He not only had the crowd screaming his name, but also responding to his prompt of “Get your…” with “Cray-on!” It was clear that, no matter who the audience was there to see, G-Dragon had captivated everyone’s attention.
The concert ended with the B1A4, VIXX, Teen Top, and IU joining G-Dragon on the stage, where the idols waved to fans and threw shirts into the audience. While the idols walked back onto stage, it was noted that G-Dragon bowed respectfully to each idol, despite the fact that he is largely their seniors.
What do you think of the first night of M! Countdown at KCON? Be sure to share your thoughts and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.
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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