Angela SciarappaKpopmap Contributor
For those who have attended “KCON New York” in the past will know that what made this year’s event most noticeably different was the change in venue. In the previous years. “KCON New York” was held at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, this year fans found themselves smack dab in the heart of New York at the Javits Center.
The convention center was a welcomed change for many due to the large space and air conditioning. Fans were able to walk around, dance and enjoy some wonderful Korean delicacies all while in the comfort of air conditioning and without the chance of getting a killer sunburn. The restrooms were also a huge step up from the line of port-a-potties fans had to use in the past.
Aside from the convention change, the concert also got an upgrade and was held at the famous Madison Square Garden! Just a short walk from the Javits Center, “KCON New York” had fans flocking to Madison Square Garden to see their favorite artists perform. The venue changes weren’t the only changes that “KCON New York” had for fans, some which were welcomed and others that were more of a disappointment.
In previous years, fans and press had the opportunity to attend the red carpet but this year had fans needing to purchase a diamond ticket or platinum ticket to attend. Another unfortunate turnout was that girl group. EVERGLOW was unable to attend due to issues with the members’ visa. EVERGLOW missing the schedule was thrown a little off kilter but the convention staff did their best to plan accordingly. That didn’t stop fans from having a good time though!
Another difference may be that there were significantly less food booths this year whereas in the past, Korean restaurants around New York had booths set up selling traditional Korean dishes. There were free handouts this year which gave fans the opportunity to try something they normally wouldn’t. For example, I had the chance to try a meal worm slider! Worm and all the sliders were genuinely delicious even with the whole worm intact I was thankful to try something I normally never would have. As for whether or not I would be willing to order one off the menu or try to make it myself that’s a little harder to imagine.
Day one started with the boy group, THE BOYZ surprising fans and showing up at the Toyota stage after their artist engagement. Throughout the two days artists continued to appear on the “KCON New York” stage to answer questions and interact with fans.
ATEEZ on the first day appeared at the LIVE KCON Studio to play a giant version of Jenga with dances written on them. Unfortunately due to it being a new location which was new and confusing not only for fans but for the staff as well, it was hard to tell where or when idols would be appearing.
That’s not the only things that were planned for day one though! There were tons of panels and workshops ranging from fan club meet ups to educational panels about composing K-Pop songs.
A definite fan favorite and my personal highlight of the night was the panel ‘Behind the Scenes of K-Pop Music Production’ which featured producers and artists like Min, Jun, and JongUp . Min is a K-Pop music producer currently active in Korea. He debuted as a producer in 2016 and since has worked with numerous artists including, VIXX , WJSN , JBJ and more.
Jun is a Korean-American solo artist, mostly well-known for his past YouTube career under the name JuNCurryAhn. Many fans of the former group of B.A.P came to support and see JongUp and hear him talk about something he is passionate about. It wasn’t just B.A.P fans that had a good time though the panel itself was very educational and a huge help for anyone interested in music production.
The three panelists answered questions by fans and talked about what it was like being behind the scenes in the production of K-Pop.
The expo itself had many interactive booths for fans to take photos and experience new things. There were Korean skin care and beauty booths as well as clothing lines and K-Pop merchandise. Fans were able to try out Korean products and purchase some of their favorite artist albums. The booths weren’t the only thing that had fans talking though, there was a giant wall that allowed fans to write to their favorite artists.
Fans also had multiple places set up to do dance workshops and random play dances like the panel with YouTuber GoToe, a pharmaceutical student from Daegu known for his hilarious dance compilations.
Speaking of YouTubers, you could see many around the con like reacttotheK or Edward Avila. Including all the panels though I think many fans would agree that the most exciting parts were when idols would appear especially if it was a surprise like when fromis_9 appeared on the KCON Stage to present the top three cover artists and singers who were competing their awards. YouTube fans were able to see their favorites like YouTuber Big Marvel perform on the stage along with seeing their idols as well.
Some of the most memorable moments for me were all of the “KCON New York” stage events like the dance cover and songwriter competition. Fans had the opportunity to compete in front of some pretty impressive judges like singer songwriter Esna. The winners were given the opportunity to meet with a professional music producer which is a huge opportunity.
There were also so fun events like ATEEZ playing Dance Jenga or when VERIVERY performed for their fans on the main stage. I think a personal highlight would be when fromis_9 surprised fans, everyone loves a surprise appearance! This convention brought new opportunities to try new things and experience more of the Korean culture than any year before, like the Korean market that featured elements of Korean culture like the traditional Hanbok that fans could try on or purchase!
The con wasn’t the only fun thing fans got to experience because when the con ended the concert started where the artists got to experience the concert of a lifetime.
The stages were phenomenal, one of my favorite special stages was a cover of Adam Levine’s ‘Lost stars’ performed by NU’EST members BaekHo and MinHyun. THE BOYZ also performed and choreographed an impressive dance cover of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’.
The second day seemed to one up the first day with even more unforgettable performances from groups SF9, (G)I-DLE, AB6IX, fromis_9, VERIVERY, and most notably SEVENTEEN minus one member Seungkwan due to a previous ankle injury.
The night held even more fun games and special stages than the night before like when boy group SF9 covered EXO ’s ‘Love Shot’! (G)I-DLE also gave fans quite the show with a cover of ‘All That Jazz’ from iconic Broadway show ‘Chicago’! Guests were even surprised with new and upcoming boy group World Klass that made an appearance in the back of GA to watch the show that night.
Overall this year’s “KCON New York” was an unforgettable one and one can only hope that the years to come will bring even better improvements!