K-Pop Artists and Fans Mark 10 Years Of Magic KCON 2022: Without a doubt, it was worthwhile. It was well worth the $2,200,” Larry Zheng chuckles. The 20-year-old participant is referring to the Prestige tickets he purchased for Magic KCON 2022, the largest Korean music and culture event in North America, which was held from August 19 to 21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and Crypto Arena. Zheng, a self-described “JYP Nation lover,” mostly came to see the girl group ITZY, but his top-tier purchase gave him unlimited admission to the three-day conference. Zheng also obtained meet-and-greets with all of the participating musicians, red carpet access, special merchandise, and many other advantages in addition to preferable GA locations for the two performance nights. The encounter, in his words, “was the best of my life.”
The language of K-pop is frequently vivacious. Magic KCON 2022 drank directly from the genre’s well-known bottle of vivid visuals, numerous tempo changes, and complicated choreographies. Over the course of the three days of the 2022 event, the convention floor featured a variety of food, beauty, and merchandise vendors in addition to dozens of talks, workshops, games, and activities like Selfie MV recordings where fans could take part and engage with their favourite celebrities. The attendees, who ranged in age and background, dressed simply in jeans and t-shirts others went all out with ensembles straight out of a music video. Magic KCON 2022 L.A. concluded a weekend bursting at the seams with the enchantment of K-pop, drawing over 90,000 attendees and garnering a total online viewership of 7.17 million.
Zheng has never attended a KCON before, but in 2022 the venerable convention will celebrate its tenth anniversary. KCON was established by the South Korean entertainment business CJ ENM in Los Angeles in 2012, and as a result of the Hallyu (Korean wave) explosion in popularity over the past ten years, it has now moved to nations including Japan, Mexico, and Australia. It started as a one-day occasion for Americans. KCON has evolved into a weekend-long extravaganza for K-pop fans to see their favourite bands perform live.
Kevin Woo, 30, a former member of U-KISS and actor, says that KCON was initially focused on the culture surrounding K-pop and its idols but has since expanded to cover other aspects of South Korean life. Woo has been a part of the event since 2017, first as a performer and now as a special guest and host.
There are panels with K-pop producers, K-pop performers, foreigners, and LGBTQ+ people who are curious about living in Korea and what it is like, he says. “People may study about and really immerse themselves in so many different areas,”
The other significant change Woo has observed is that the majority of attendees are now in their 40s and older, in contrast to when they first performed in America in 2014. But now, you can spot middle students, high schoolers, and even toddlers with their parents. Certain changes have occurred in the age demographic.
For example, Karen, 51, and her daughter Zoe, 7, travelled from Orange County, California, to attend the festival. They will try to see STAYC, Zoe’s favourite band, even though it is too late for her to attend the concert because they will be on the conference floor. According to Karen, who has attended the previous four KCONs, “I think it’s a terrific event to get to meet another part of the world.” “Isn’t it true that music speaks to everyone? Every generation and every race come together because of it.
Even while many fans only attend the convention, it wouldn’t be complete without the event’s icing on the cake: live performances by some of the biggest and most promising K-pop stars currently on the scene.
Lightsum, Cravity, STAYC, and TO1 performed on the KCON Rookies stage on Friday before beginning a six-city tour of the United States, and Ateez, Stray Kids, WJSN, NCT Dream, Enhypen, and LOONA closed up the show on Saturday and Sunday.
Some organisations were still taken aback when they learned how well-liked they are abroad after two years of primarily online activities owing to the pandemic. Boy band TO1 said they made fans on their first trip to L.A. and were able to spot those same faces in the audience when they performed at the KCON Rookies stage on Friday. TO1 made their KCON debut in 2019 while serving as trainees for Mnet’s survival show To Be World Klass.
It means a lot to us since, despite our best efforts, we were able to win over fans abroad. J.You, a TO1 rapper aged 21, says, “It was incredibly moving. Jaeiun, the leader of the organisation, explains that KCON is comparable to a best friend or even a member of the family. We’ve attended every KCON since we made our debut, so we have wonderful recollections of everything.
Rapper Allen, 23, who performs as the principal dancer for Cravitia, agrees. On Saturday, after playing the smooth version of “Adrenaline,” he stated it was a full-circle moment when he introduced himself to the crowd. He first went to KCON in 2018 as a fan but hasn’t been able to do so since, this time as a performer.
He declares hours before taking the stage, his eyes blazing, “My mom, my brother, and my pals from school are all going to be here because I’m from LA.” Minhy, a 19-year-old vocalist who is a fellow member, was one of the people who thought, “I’m going to be a star, I want to be there,” while seeing Seventeen perform “Very Nice” at KCON 2017.
Similar ideas were shared by Ieseo, the girl group Kep1er’s youngest maknae (member) at 17 years old. Because I’ve been watching them on YouTube, being on the KCON stage has long been a goal of mine, she explains on Sunday morning, the day after the group’s outstanding performance. Lead vocalist for Kep1er Chaehyun, 20, said that their performance on Saturday was particularly noteworthy since they participated in the Dream Stage, an audition-based event where a small group of fans could play the group’s breakthrough single, “Wa Da Da,” on stage with them. (On the Dream Stage with support from the audience, LOONA performed “PTT (Paint the Town)” on Sunday.) Our only option, according to Chaehyun, is [KCON]. We could all appreciate it even more if more admirers joined us the next time.
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