When Cindy asked me to write about the 5 favorite things about my KCON 2017 NY experience, I thought it would be a pretty simple task. I mean it’s a weekend spent in New York, submersed in a completely Hallyu-centric little universe. How could you not find 5 things to love? The task was easy, right? Well… The coming up with memorable experiences was easy enough but narrowing them down to only 5? That was the hard part!
In the end, I couldn’t actually keep this list at just 5. I tried. Really, I did. But cutting out any one of these experiences just didn’t seem right. After all, each one of these 6 (hey, I only went over by 1!) highlights a different part of the KCON experience so I felt like leaving just 1 out would be equivalent to leaving out a part of the fun. That just felt kinda wrong so here are my Top 6 Moments from KCON 2017 NY…
1. Meeting SF9
Well, okay, I didn’t actually meet them… But I did get to give them all high-fives! That’s gotta count for something, doesn’t it?
One of the biggest draws to KCON is having the chance to interact with members of your favorite idol groups. Whether you’re up close for one of the many artist engagements scheduled throughout the weekend, or way in the back, just having the chance to be in the same room with your biases is a dream come true for a lot of K-Pop fans. (Myself included.) While I’ve been able to be part of the audience during several of these engagements over the years, I’ve never been lucky enough to secure a high-touch. Until now…
Thanks to a couple of very good friends, I was able to experience my very first KCON high-touch and I have to say, the experience was fantastic. I know not everyone is able to secure these elusive little passes and I know a lot of tears (both happy and sad) have been shed over them over the years. It always feels like such an impossible miracle, getting your hands on a KCON high-touch, but when that miracle happens, it’s a wonderful thing.
Have I been through other high-touches in my life? Yes. Have I had other memorable moments as a result? Yes. But there’s something special about a KCON high-touch, something about it is different. Maybe it’s the atmosphere. Maybe it’s the incredible surge of excited energy surrounding you as you queue up with so many other overly excited fans. Maybe it’s just the combination of bright lights and beautiful biases that kind of overwhelms you as you make your way down the line. It’s hard to say. All I do know is that I’ll never forget having the chance to actually say something to the members of SF9. Even it was nothing more than a very lame (and incredibly timid), “thank you.”
2. Crossing paths with Highlight, UP10TION and Kevin Woo
While KCON may have made a name for itself by providing fans with multiple opportunities to meet and/or interact with fans, it’s the rare occasions when idols just happen to pop up right next to you that make some of the most unforgettable memories. Funny thing is, this happened to me while I was in New York, not once, not even twice, but three times!
The first time it happened, I was meeting up with a friend near the Olympics 2018 tent. While we’re talking, a big black van pulls up across the way and the next thing I know, Highlight is strutting past, not 6 inches away from me! Talk about having a moment! Actually, I was in too much shock to even realize what had just happened. Needless to say, once the whole thing sank in, that’s when I had my moment!
Oddly enough, almost the exact same thing happened to me on Saturday. I happened to walk out of the press room at the exact moment UP10TION was wrapping up their event at the Toyota tent. All of a sudden this huge crowd of people surrounds me and before I know it, UP10TION is being escorted inside. Once again, they were mere inches from me and once again, my brain could barely process what was going on.
My last experience was much more low-key and completely unexpected. In fact, it was so unexpected that I almost missed the whole thing! I was on my way to grab some photos of the marketplace and was messaging a friend of mine as I strolled along. I just happened to look up as I was passing the box office doors and Kevin Woo walked right in front of me. If I hadn’t looked up when I did, I might have run right into him. As it was, I noticed in time and just kinda stood there going, “Huh, I almost ran into Kevin Woo.” The whole thing just made me laugh and obviously, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.
3. My Panel
It might sound kind of self-serving, or conceited, to list my panel as one of my top KCON memories but that’s not what I’m going for here. In all honesty, my part in the panel has absolutely nothing to do with why this particular moment ranks so high on my list. It’s the fact that my fellow panelists, and the people filling the chairs in front of us, were beyond incredible, that made this moment so special.
Being able to spend an entire hour discussing the rising stars of K-dramas, with people who share your undying love of all things Hallyu, is what made this year’s panel so much fun. With an audience as into the discussion as we, the panelists, were, the time flew by. Being able to squeal over favorites and discuss what sets these up-and-comers apart from their less well-known colleagues was so much fun! Even more so because so many people came up to us afterwards to tell us just how much they’d enjoyed our time together. Truly, that was one of the most unforgettable moments of the convention and I only wish I could have stuck around longer to chat with those still willing to continue the conversation. Sadly, this zombie was a busy one and the Red Carpet was calling my name. Speaking of…
4. The Red Carpet
The KCON Red Carpet is easily one of my favorite events of the convention. Having the chance to see each and every artist performing that day, up-close and in person, is something everyone should get to experience at least once. It’s a moment almost too incredible to describe.
I love the way each artist makes their own grand entrance. I love the endless clicking of the photographers’ cameras. I love watching the artists interact with their fans. I love seeing them smile and wave and throw hearts and strike funny poses. I love the outfits and listening to the collective gasp of the crowd when each stunning group takes the stage. There’s so much about the Red Carpet that I love. Even the mini-interviews, as cheesy as the questions always are, are fun because it makes us feel as if we’re sitting down to chat with people so far beyond our normal, every-day reach.
The only downside to every Red Carpet event is that it goes by way too fast. Just when you’re having fun with one group, their time is up and another takes their place. The whole thing ends up passing in the blink of an eye and before you know it, you’re shoved back into the real world where interacting with idols and being surrounded by glamour are nothing more than wishes and dreams.
5. The Concerts
Of course the one thing that draws tens of thousands of people to KCON each year are the concerts. And for good reason. I’ve been attending KCON for four years now and every year, the concerts end up being one of the biggest highlights of my trip.
There’s just something about seeing so many incredible artists performing on a single stage… I don’t know if it’s just because being here in North America, we don’t really get a chance to see more than one K-pop artist at a time, or what… But being able to enjoy an entire evening filled with so many different acts, it’s just so much fun.
This year I was really looking forward to seeing all the rookie groups that KCON had lined up… SF9, NCT 127, KNK, UP10TION… And Highlight… And CNBLUE… And Zion.T… Okay, you know what? I was looking forward to all of the acts this year. But seriously, being able to see rookie groups here in the States is pretty much impossible so when so many of the groups I love were announced as artists in NY this year, I was kinda freaking out. (Okay, I was freaking out over Highlight as well. I mean when am I ever gonna see those guys again? Their military service is coming up and once that hits… No, I’m not even gonna go there… I just can’t…)
Sitting on the other side of this year’s concerts, I can honestly say, my excitement was well-founded. Every single group not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. So much so that I found myself in tears on more than one occasion. (I really couldn’t help myself, tears just kinda start flowing when I’m incandescently happy.) You just can’t capture the excitement and emotion of a live performance on film, which is why KCON concerts are so much more fun when they’re experienced in person. The energy that comes from tens of thousands of fan all cheering and singing and dancing together is something you just have to experience for yourself. I promise, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
6. Making New Friends
Despite the fact this might make me sound terribly sentimental (and quite possible cheesy), the absolute best thing about attending KCON is having the chance to make new friends. Every year I meet new people, people who share my love of all things Hallyu, and every year I walk away with so many new friends. It makes my heart so happy! (Yeah, that’s not sappy and cheesy at all…)
I won’t gush over all the new friends I made while in New York this year. Instead I’ll just tell you that if you attend something as epic as KCON and you don’t go home with a handful of new friends, you’re missing out. The best part of attending this year’s convention was meeting and getting to know so many people who share my undying love of all things Hallyu. Each and every one of them added something special to my experience and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
So there you have it, my Top 5 (+1) Moments of KCON 2017 NY. I’m pretty sure if you were there, you made some awesome memories of your own. I’d love to hear all about it so be sure to tell me all about them in the comments below!