October 13th was the day I had been looking forward to for months: the first ever Korean pop culture convention. In the midst of the best year for Korean pop with its growing popularity, I knew I had to attend this event which offered not only a dance workshop led by famous choreographers, panels on aspects of Korean culture, movies, booths and even an autograph session, but a concert to top off the night with rising stars in Kpop. The concert included a mix of well known and even rookie artists such as BAP, VIXX, EXO-M, Nu’est, 4 Minute and G.NA. The concert was opened by Asian American singers AJ Rafael and Dumbfoundead and Korean electronic duo, Daze47. Also making a high anticipated appearance among many others was Simon and Martina, from the popular YouTube channel Eat Your Kimchi, who are a staple in the Kpop phenomenon.
Upon first entering the convention, it felt like going to Disneyland with all the contests, merchandise, activities, and events going on throughout the entire day. Walking around the packed outdoor venue, there were many fans that dressed up as their favorite idols or made signs for them in Korean or Chinese. As the mayor of Irvine, Sukhee Kang, said during the concert, “There is no language barrier when it comes to K-pop”, this summarizes the attitude of the thousands of people at KCON. While many will assume this sort of event would mostly be flocked with teenage girls, the demographic in the Kpop fandom has certainly broadened with a wide range of male and female, young and old, Asian and non-Asian. One of the greatest things about this genre of music is that it has become a culture of its own and is filled with passionate individuals who love meeting others with the same interest, which is something I witnessed after attending my second Kpop concert.
This event had quite a lot of potential but it was far from perfect. I occasionally felt like even Comic Con couldn’t compare to the conditions of this venue. From 10am to 10pm in the heat of the day, the small and packed convention was filled with ten thousand people, many of whom crowded around the autograph session tent to catch a glimpse of all the idols. It became quite chaotic especially when B.A.P and EXO-M were to start their signings which in due course caused delays in scheduling and someone a broken ankle. Despite the disorganization of this event, the day was ended on a high note with a spectacular performance and even the artists people weren’t familiar with received a lot of praise from the audience. This convention proved to be a success and will hopefully improve and become an annual event as part of the hallyu wave.