KCON came to Los Angeles last month with a slew of events and activities, including the much-anticipated concerts, and this is my recap of it all.
For those who don’t know, KCON is a big Korean culture convention held all around the world that brings K-Pop, K-Drama, and K-Lifestyle together for a weekend. As with most conventions, there are panels, workshops, meet and greets, special stages, and vendors, but each night there is also a full concert with a different lineup of K-Pop artists each night. I’ll be breaking down my recap between the pre-convention, the convention, and the concert.
Besides the concert line-ups, KCON was not forthcoming with information until the last second. You couldn’t really plan what you’d want to do until the week of, which is frustrating as an attendee. There also wasn’t a ton of information explaining what certain things were or how long these things were actually going to be. It would seem like some of the special stage events would last an hour, but they’d be 15-20 minutes max, which is disappointing. There just overall needed to be more and better communication from the organizers from the start.
I have to be honest and say that the convention was mostly a letdown. We only went to two of the three days, because after barely doing anything the second day and having done all we wished to do, there was just no point. You can only wander the floor so many times before being bored of seeing the same vendors again and again. And the programming of the panels and stages just wasn’t that interesting or too chaotic.
The security team was also rather frustrating. In the moments that they were tasked with something that should have been done by actual convention staff, they blundered a lot. They’d guide us into incorrect lines that we knew were wrong, but the last thing anyone wants to do is try and correct security and get thrown out. Most of those particular blunders could have been solved with more signage. The other annoying thing was they wouldn’t let you sit anywhere. I understand this to a point, especially if people were in places that would become a hazard or theoretically camping out for some panel. But these were not the case most of the time. It got to a point that we left early because it was too frustrating to find a place to just chill for a few minutes. If the convention just gave us a room with chairs, that would be enough honestly.
Complaining about lines at a convention is ridiculous, and I know it is par for the course to wait in lines, but for whatever reason the lines to get into the convention on Saturday were made to be ten times worse than it could have been. We got there early, knowing that lines were going to be worse because it was officially the weekend, but for whatever reason they took three entry lines worth of people and put them into one line. It looped around the building, back towards a freeway entrance, and then back around another few blocks surrounding the convention center. What I mainly did not understand is why we weren’t using the taped-off stations that the convention set up for the concert (the convention center and concert arena are directly next to each other). They have these line systems made, yet we weren’t using them and no one understood why. Saturday being this ridiculous also influenced us to not attend Sunday.
Let’s actually go inside the convention hall now. There were sections for different cultural areas like K-Pop, K-Dramas, etc. There was a mix of shopping and some sponsor booths and compared to other conventions I have been to it felt a little empty. But this could partially be because there were certain spots that were much busier than others consistently, like the two stages and McDonald’s food truck. We stopped at a couple of booths, mainly the ones selling K-Pop merch like albums and photocards, but also looked around the lifestyle and make-up ones as well. We looped the main hall probably ten times in two days just trying to find new things to do.
There were some special events being done, like the badge holder event where you get a badge holder and can go to the different areas of the con and get stickers. I honestly can’t explain it more than that, because that was the extent to which I understood it. The basic concept is clear enough, but beyond a couple of places where we did find stickers, I wasn’t that sure where to go.
There were some positives about the convention. It was nice to see some artists in interviews live, even though it would get very crowded in those areas. My friend and I saw Shownu and Hyungwon of Monsta X do a quick interview and game, and that was enjoyable. We also saw 8TURN, which is a newer group, have a stage. I would have liked to see other special stages like 8TURN’s, but it was a bit too chaotic for me since I wasn’t nearly as big of a fan as those around me. Plus we got to see these same groups perform at the concert’s pre-show, so it worked out in the end.
The concert, or Show as the organizers call it, is the saving grace of this whole experience. The concerts were amazing, even the artists that I don’t necessarily love were entertaining. For me, ATEEZ was the highlight and the whole reason we went to KCON honestly. Their performance made everything worth it. Stray Kids were also phenomenal; as expected having seen them perform before. (G)I-DLE was also amazing and made me wish I got tickets for their tour. The surprise stage of Ten and Taeyong from NCT doing “Baby Don’t Stop” was such a treat. XG getting a proper spot in the show (they replaced Fifty Fifty) was great. Taemin is an icon so seeing him perform live was amazing.
There were a few misses for me at the concerts though. Most of it was song choices that just didn’t fit the energy of the concert, but because it was that artist’s most recent comeback they felt obligated to do it. ITZY is a good example of this since both of their songs were mediocre picks, but they got saved by being the Dreamstage artist with “Wannabe”. There was also a special performance by someone who isn’t in K-Pop and got popular within it because of BlackPink’s Lisa doing a dance cover two years ago. She did an original song that really killed the energy, wasn’t very good, and she also didn’t even sing half of it, letting the track do it for her. If you can’t perform your song live, don’t do live performances. That was easily the worst performance for me, and one that no one asked for to be honest.
The big question is would I go to KCON again? And the answer is 99% no. The convention itself was messy and disappointing. And even though I really enjoyed the concerts, I could also save that money to get tickets to see an artist of my choice instead. That 1% of yes is solely if they somehow could get BTS involved, but seeing as there were no HYBE artists at this year’s con, I don’t have any hopes that that will ever happen.
Have you ever attended KCON? Tell me about your experience with a comment.
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