On August 15, KCON LA 2019 officially began. KCON (Korean Convention) is described on the official KCON USA website as “the one place where every element of Hallyu encompassing pop music, TV dramas, movies, fashion, food, and beauty can be experienced and celebrated”. I was one such conventioner and audience member of KCON. But before we get into discussing what happened at the biggest Korean convention on the west coast, what exactly is Hallyu and the Hallyu Wave?
The Hallyu Wave, which translates to “The Korean Wave” is, according to korea.net, “A term now widely used to refer to the popularity of Korean entertainment and culture across Asia and other parts of the world”. This wave started as Korea started booming economically and growing technologically, and originated in Asia with China and Japan. With the rise of not only the famously known K-Pop but also Korean food and Korean dramas, the Hallyu wave has spread across the globe to the US, South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Riding the wave to bring an opportunity to immerse oneself in Korean culture is KCON.
KCON, since its roots in 2012, has attracted over one million visitors and has been held in cities across the world, such as Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Saitama, Chiba, Abu Dhabi, Mexico City, Bangkok, and Sydney. The event is split up into two parts over the course of three days: three days of the convention itself, and two nights of concert.
The convention at KCON LA took place at the LA convention center and was packed full of activities. Sponsors for KCON had stalls that you could pay a visit to. Take, for example, the Melona stand where you could spin a wheel to get free ice cream or a tote bag, or perhaps the theQoos booth where meet and greets were held. Outside, food stalls were selling both traditional Korean street food like tteokbokki or soondae as well as newer, trendier food items like boba and Myungrang Hot Dog. A wide variety of Korean beauty products were available to purchase as well.
The concert was held on Saturday and Sunday night, and although many are attracted to the concert because of the famous K-Pop groups that perform, it is also an opportunity for lesser known groups to show their skill, talent, and charm. AB6IX, ATEEZ, fromis_9, IZ*ONE, ITZY, LOONA, MAMAMOO, MOMOLAND, N.Flying, NU’EST, SEVENTEEN, STRAY KIDS, SF9, and VERIVERY performed at KCON LA 2019, all of whom showed incredible performances, played interactive group games, and surprised with solo stages.
As for my personal experience, I ended up going to the concert with three friends, one of whom was Korean, but two of whom were not. My two non-korean friends both immensely enjoyed the experience, delving deep into Korean culture and trying the niches of it. Not only was I happy to see them enjoying my own culture, I was so happy to see thousands of other non-Korean people attend the convention and concert and enjoy the culture that I know and also enjoy so very much.
Paul Kang, Grade 10
La Canada High School