Must Haves for KCON (based off of my personal experience at KCON LA 2016)

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By Kayla Webb

Do not argue with me: pop music is fun.  And if you’re like me then you find yourself sucked into the catchy beats and perfected aesthetics of pop music from around the world.  For the past two years I have been devouring Korean pop music, spending hours youtubing every possible boyband and girl group.  However, unlike KPOP fans living in Korea, international fans like myself have very limited opportunities to attend KPOP concerts and meet KPOP idols.  One solution for international fans is KCON, a convention dedicated to Korean music, television dramas, movies, fashion, beauty, and food.  In July, I attended KCON 2016 in Los Angeles and as a first-timer I was completely blown away.  After experiencing KCON I made a list of everything a newbie will need to conquer KCON 2017 like a pro.

Disclaimer: Concerts are my absolute favorite thing so I attended KCON because I had to see Monsta X and BTS perform live.  Most of my KCON experience was spent stressing out about whether or not I should fork over extra money to attend Red Carpets, Hi-Touches, and Audiences.  So while I thought the convention was cool, my weekend was mostly me trying to get THIS CLOSE to my favorite performers (with moderate to low success because I was newbie and forgot that thousands of other people love these performers as much as I do, which is why I made this list).

13900190_1286336321397594_4327575770661515274_nSOCIAL MEDIA

In today’s modern world, everyone has social media, but for KCON you’re going to need to revive all dormant social media.  The ticketing process for the concert this year was a mess, so before even going to KCON social media played an important role in helping me find tickets.  After joining the KCON Ticketing group on Facebook and scrounging for resell tickets, I created (created!!) a Twitter account in order to buy concert tickets and then attended church every single day leading up to KCON to pray that these tickets were legit (they were, thank the Good Lord!).

The convention is what you make it: if you want to chill, visit booths, and enjoy being surrounded by tens of thousands of fellow fans, great!  But if you want to attend meet-and-greets and special events, and stay updated about who would be where, when, and why (BTS wouldn’t have any fan engagements because they were flying in from Manila on Sunday, Amber appeared inside the convention, Astro was at the Toyota booth, etc.), then you better make sure your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr (at least) are following the necessary accounts.

Social media is also necessary if you don’t luck out with vouchers.  Lots of people will give away, trade, or resell fan engagement and red carpet passes.  If you know what you want and who you are as a fanperson, the possibility of trading or buying vouchers for the idols you love is high.  But if you’re like me and have a mini panic attack thinking about staring into Monsta X’s eyes and touching their hands and wait until the afternoon of to try to get a Hi-Touch voucher, then the possibility of finding this voucher is low.  Once I realized that I was not emotionally ready to come face to face with Monsta X, I scoured Facebook and bought an audience pass off of a fan instead.  #SocialMedia

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POLITE, BUT SHARP ELBOWS

KCON is crowded, tens of thousands of fans remember?  This year the convention was inside at the Los Angeles Convention Center, instead of outside like it has been the past couple of years.  While the air conditioning was a plus, the inside set-up made the convention feel very crowded.  I walked from booth to booth weaving between fans watching dancers perform on stage, trying not to step on fans sitting in lines for panels, workshops, and merchandise, and dodged fans exploring the booths like myself.

13782074_1286436791387547_1071251007483804160_n TENACITY

KCON is basically lines, lines, and more lines for almost everything.  One KCON-er deemed it “LineCon” and I agree.  At KCON, you have to be dedicated to the cause and okay with waiting hours.  Mentally prepare to wait and to get to everything early: the convention, the concert, red carpets, and Hi-Touches.  I suggest bringing lots of friends and taking turns standing in lines for each other.  I forgot I wasn’t the only one with a Monsta X audience pass and unknowingly arrived thirty minutes before this event so I was literally the last person in line.  There was also a delay in their schedule and Monsta X didn’t arrive until an hour after their scheduled arrival.  So I was not only in the very back for this event and thus up close to the door through which many fans exited before Monsta X even arrived, but when they finally took the stage all I could see was seven blurry heads.  Yay?  If I had been more tenacious I would have arrived to the line earlier so I could have found a better spot.

For the nightly concerts, whether you had a general admissions ticket or a seated ticket, the lines were just as long and took way too much time.  I stood in line for two hours before the doors opened and was still towards the back of the line.  But unlike the audience pass, the concert was so worth the wait.  Dig in deep, get there early, wait out those lines and delays, and you will see what you want to see and do what you want to do.

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CASH

If you want to buy merchandise, shirts, posters, knick knacks, beauty products, or food, cash is a must.  And if you didn’t get the vouchers you wanted, you’re going to need cash to buy a voucher off of someone if you can’t find someone to trade with or who’s giving theirs out for free.

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A positive attitude.  Did I mention the lines already?  Most of the lines are worth waiting in, like the concert obviously and the fan engagements.  It’s important to have a positive attitude if you want to leave KCON the same way you entered it: hopeful, happy to be in the same place as your favorites, and excited to meet new fan friends.  While I was waiting that extra hour for Monsta X to come out I talked with the fans next to me about our love for Monsta X, which made the wait a little bit more bearable.

Along the lines of a positive attitude, there is a specific concert etiquette I discovered some people do not know.  First, I was in the pit for the concert.  The pit.  And yet the girl in front of me was on Tumblr for most of the concert, scrolling through gifs of the people who were performing ten feet in front of us.  What????  Excuse me, ma’am, you are wasting the precious inches between me and the love of my life??  Move!  Also help short fans see.  I gave up my spot for two very short fans unable to see and as a reward the really tall fan in front of me let me stand in front of her.  On second thought maybe she just let me stand in front of her because I screamed JUNGKOOK directly into her ear.  Either way, a positive attitude and common concert courtesy goes a long way.  Lastly, good concert etiquette includes having fun.  Don’t stand like a statue, dance without stepping on the toes of your neighbor, sing along or hum (like me because I don’t speak Korean), wave your hand in time with the beat.

Even though I spent most of KCON staring at the back of the person’s head in front of me in line, KCON was still fantastic.  One awesome thing about KCON is falling more in love with the things you love.  I didn’t know every single performer at KCON, but getting to see really talented people do what they do best was amazing and I got to discover some of my new favorite KPOP groups/singers (hi Davichi!).  Whether you’re going to KCON to experience the convention or scream at the concert, KCON is super worth it and KCON in LA gives KPOP-enthusiasts opportunities for visits to Koreatown for yummy Korean barbeque and late night karaoke.

If you made it this far and haven’t watched a KPOP music video, I recommend BTS’s Fire, Monsta X’s Hero, and Amber’s Shake That Brass, who were all at KCON LA and are all really fun.  Enjoy!

About the Author: Kayla Webb is an English Literature and Creative Writing major at Seattle Pacific University.  After traveling abroad to Spain and Morocco as a freshmen in college, she hasn’t been able to stop dreaming about faraway places and planning a million possible trips around the world.  When she’s not in California, she lives as a blanket burrito in Seattle, creates Instagram captions for the pictures she would take in faraway places, and befriends dogs.

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