It’s that time of year again: KCON time. For some, KCON season means wallowing in misery while we wish the event could be hosted a bit closer to where we lived—or that there was more money in our wallets, or just more time in our lives. For others, it means hours of giddy excitement as we stare longingly at the purchased tickets and consciously ignore the matching void in our bank accounts.
But what exactly is KCON? For those of us unfamiliar with the event, KCON is an annual Kpop convention for “All Things Hallyu.” While it began in 2012 at Irvine, California’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, it has since expanded to include events in Japan, France, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This year, KCON NY returns to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey from June 24th to the 25th, and KCON LA will likewise return to the Staples Center from July 29th to the 31st.
With KCON right around the corner, those of us that have not been to KCON before—and even those of us that have—are curious about your experience(s) at the event. Do you have any tips to share with other fans going to KCON this year? And are there any stories you would like to share about your experience(s) there?
Cjontai: For anyone attending KCON in California, please heed my warning. The sun is a major hater! Slather on all the sunscreen possible and drink plenty of water. I saw so many people looking like lobsters last time I went, and they seemed absolutely miserable. Do not underestimate this heat! We’re in a drought for a reason; it’s no joke.
Also be sure to show up early to line up for entry. In 2014, my friends and I waited over 2 hours just to get in through the gate because the line extended around the entire venue. Some Starlights were understandably upset by the delay because the fan event for VIXX ended before they even got in. Things were better organized the next day, but it still sucked that the staff seemed unprepared the first day. Hopefully, they’ve improved from the previous years, so fans won’t be frustrated by any confusion.
And please be kind to other fandoms. I talked to a girl who had a rude encounter with some mean ARMYs, and sadly, she wasn’t the only one with that story. As a fellow fan, it broke my heart to hear about the fandom making others feel badly for not liking their bias group. This event is supposed to be about how Korean entertainment has brought us together through the joy it gives us. Let’s focus on loving the fact that our faves are finally accessible to us (I’m gonna see SHINee! I’m gonna see SHINee!) and embrace being around other fans who won’t judge you negatively for listening to k-pop.
Lindsay: Thankfully, last year, 2015, and this year, 2016, the convention is held inside at the Los Angeles Convention Center, so no more sunburns! But if you’re planning on walking around outside in downtown LA or Koreatown during con down-time, Cjontai’s advice certainly stands. 2013 and 2014 were very rough due to sunburn and heat, so I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am that they moved the con indoors. It made the whole experience more pleasant and less exhausting.
As for arrival, take advantage of the early check-in! Last year there were check-in times on Thursday as well as Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Basically, take the earliest chance you get; do whatever your schedule allows, because yeah, there’s always a line. It was much better last year than previous years, so we can only hope 2016 is even better. Once again, being indoors has many benefits — like real computer systems for check in, and air-conditioned line time.
Speaking of waiting in lines, I do have a little personal advice for first-time (and returning) con goers: try not to get too wrapped up in chasing those opportunities to maybe see an idol. I know, I know, you’re there to see them, and I totally understand that, but just remember that there are so many other awesome things to do at KCON — you don’t want to spend the entire weekend standing in line, and it’s just too easy to end up doing that and missing out on other things. If you’re at a loss, go to a panel, even if you’re not sure you’re interested in the topic (you might learn something!), join a workshop (hurray free food!), or go do some dancing! There’s always something happening, so don’t feel like you’re obligated to wait in every line.
And most importantly, keep an eye out for Seoulbeats staff! We’ll be there on multiple panels, and just walking around enjoying ourselves!
Lorenza: I second Lindsay’s advice! Yes, maybe seeing your fave sounds awesome, but the panels they offer are fascinating and informative. There’s always something happening somewhere and if you’re like me and spend way too much time on YouTube, some of your favorite K-Pop YouTubers might be lingering around.
Also bring snacks! I cannot stress this enough. While they have food trucks and there’s some free food in the convention floor, snacks are essential. It’s hard to keep up on adrenaline alone and sometimes it’s just not practical to go wait in line or practical for your budget. I also recommend bringing a water bottle since running from panel to panel and even standing in line can be dehydrating, especially in LA.
This might be a no brainer, but I also recommend either bringing your charger for whatever electronics you plan on bringing with you, if possible. This is most important for your cell phone and camera. Not being able to contact the people you’re with or if you make friends there is probably the most stressful thing that could happen.
Finally, make sure you take time to find a quiet place and let yourself be calm. There’s so much going on it can get seriously overwhelming. Sometimes just sitting in a corner for 15 minutes is all you need to regroup and get excited for the rest of the day. Besides, the whole point is to have fun! It’s hard to have fun when you spend most of the weekend stressed out and overwhelmed by everything happening.
Seoulmates, are any of you going to KCON? If you’ve attended before do you have any tips and stories to share with everyone else?