THE MANY FACES OF KCON

Coverage by: Jonathan Wong | @jdmwong

Step into KCON for the first time and it’s an overload on the senses. K-pop music, special artist performances, mass dance workshops, food and beauty vendors, a seemingly endless line waiting to get into a panel, and, of course, the big concert. As much as all these elements help to create the culture that is KCON, it is, more importantly, the people who make it a success, and it’s made of the most diverse and eclectic gathering of people coming together under one roof to celebrate life and each other. AANow took a trip to not only see the craziness but to see how far fandom has come (and is willing to travel) in the name of KCON.

American KPOP fans are excited to see their favorite KPOP idols perform at 2019 KCON in Los Angeles, California.
Fans are excited to see their favorite idols perform
Fourteen-year-old KPOP fan Gia Head attends 2019 KCON.
Fourteen-year-old fan Gia Head attends 2019 KCON.

Gia Head
Age:
14
From: Tennessee

Describe your look: “I got up late and threw it together. I feel like it’s my own personal style, just how I like to dress.”

How did you get into K-pop?: “BTS, but they don’t come close to Stray Kids.”

What act/s are you here to see?: “Stray Kids. Felix’s voice stood out to me, and the lyrics are so meaningful to me. I’ve been studying Korean, so I know a bit of it (even though I need to read the translation from time to time).”

Favorite song: “I can’t pick one.”

You have one hour to hang out with them; what do you do? “Probably eat, and just talk.”

Mega KPOP fan Sara Wilch attends 2019 KCON in her hometown.
Mega fan Sara Wilch also loves Korean food.

Sarah Wilch
Age:
18
From: Southern California

Describe your look: “It’s a mix of different styles that you’d typically see at an event like this, but I like to add a more professional twist.”

How did you get into K-pop?: “I first got into the group Stray Kids, but for a long time, I’ve been into Korean culture, which leads me to K-pop. I like that they have family values.”

Favorite song: Grow Up. I speak Korean, so I can understand the lyrics, even though I’m not entirely fluent. They sing in English and Korean, so even if you don’t know the language, you can get a feeling for their message.”

You have one hour to hang out with them; what do you do? “I know some of them are into photography, so I’d take them somewhere scenic.”

What got you into Korean culture?: “I love to cook and love Korean food, so coming here I like to look at the different food vendors. My favorite dish is kimchijigae.”

Dedicated KPOP fan Daniel Lake came all the way from Utah to attend 2019 KCON in Southern California.
Dedicated fan Daniel Lake came from Utah to Southern California.

Daniel Lake
Age: 18
From: Utah (“Last year I drove.”)

Describe your look: “I like black and found this palm tree shirt that I thought was cool. I wore it last year and thought maybe someone would recognize me again because I met quite a few people.

How did you get into K-pop?: “I really love the music and it brings a lot more perspective than most English music nowadays. It’s whole rounded and heartwarming.”

What act/s are you here to see?: “fromis_9: they’re a girl group I discovered last year and when I saw they were going to KCON, I had to go. I watched their V-lives and became invested in the members, then got to meet them. They’re really sweet and one even complimented me on how I looked, and we would run into each other a few more times during the event. I met fromis_9 three times in a row because of different fan meet-ups.”

Favorite song: “Love Bomb. I always listen to it in Korean, so it does get a little lost in translation for me. But whenever I watch the music video with the lyrics, I can remember and understand.”

You have one hour to hang out with them; what do you do?: “Play a board game or tennis. Something active because they’re lots of fun.”

Superfan Asher Towner is excited to see MAMAMOO and ITZY.
Asher Towner is excited to see her favorite idol groups, MAMAMOO and ITZY.

Asher Towner
Age: 17
From: Los Angeles

Describe your look: “I’m wearing MAMAMOO t-shirt and an ITZY jersey so I can alternate between the two.”

What act/s are you here to see?: “MAMAMOO and ITZY.”

How did you get into K-pop?: “I stumbled upon it when I was 13. It was everywhere on the Internet and there are so many people dedicated to following K-pop. It’s not so much the music, but the culture that I’m interested in. What sets it apart is that it’s so idol-oriented, the artists have to be well-rounded (singing and dancing, interactive and funny) and appealing to fans. You end up connecting with a Korean artist more than you would a traditional Western artist.

Favorite song: Knock Knock by Twice. I don’t know what the lyrics are talking about though.”

You have one hour to hang out with them; what do you do?: “Cry. I would probably pass out. (laughs)”

ITZY fanboy Mychal Sorensen is super excited to the band perform live at 2019 KCON.
ITZY fanboy Mychal Sorensen is super excited to the band perform live.

Mychal Sorensen
Age: 27
From: Orange County, CA

Describe your look: “I want everything to be fun and zany, so when I’m at the store, I buy whatever’s colorful or weird. That’s my go-to.”

What act/s are you here to see?: “ITZY, 1000%; they’re my girls. Wonder Girls and ITZY are both under JYP, which I tend to follow. So when I saw ITZY’s teaser trailers, I was obsessed. They’re all gorgeous. When they debuted, I was like, what the heck! So obsessed.”

How did you get into K-pop?: “I fell in love with K-pop in 2009 and have been obsessed with it ever since. When a friend told me KCON was coming to LA, there was no question; I had to go. I was watching So You Think You Can Dance and one of the guests was Wonder Girls. I almost skipped them, I had no idea who they were. That was the bait and I took it, been a fan ever since.”

Favorite song:Dumb Dumb by Red Velvet. I have no idea what they’re saying, something about smashing dolls on the factory floor? That’s what I see in the music video; I’m not sure!”

You have one hour to hang out with ITZY; what do you do?: “Teach me the choreography for Icy. I tried and failed horribly. I want Ryujin (she’s my bae) to teach me, and maybe hold my hand.”

KPOP fan Ali Wilderman travels from Indiana to see MAMMOO and ITZY.
Ali Wilderman travels from Indiana to see MAMMOO and ITZY.

Ali Wilderman
Age: 27
From: Indiana

Describe your look: “Tomboy-chic. I got some free lipstick from the beauty section here though.”

How did you get into K-pop?: “For the longest time my friend Mychal pushed it on me, and I’m like, bro, I don’t know how I feel about this, whatever. Once you see the music videos and the art, fashion, all of it together, I fell in love. I’ve been a fan for over a year now. I try to get my friends back home into it because nobody there knows what it is, not even BTS. Also, the music is really good to dance to even if you can’t understand it.”

What act/s are you here to see?: “MAMAMOO and ITZY. But BTS is my all-time favorite; saw them in Chicago in the pouring rain and they gave the best performance. I love them a lot. They have a really good message with the latest album.”

Favorite song:Dalla Dalla and Icy. They’re fun, energetic and colorful, really cute!”

You have one hour to hang out with them; what do you do?: “I would love to have lunch, coffee, hang out. I want to know the secrets of the K-pop world!”

As you can see, KCON isn’t just a Korean or strictly Asian thing. It’s meant for everyone to enjoy; all ethnicities, whatever or whomever you choose to vibe with. At the end of the day, like throwing up a little K-pop heart, it’s all love.

To learn more about KCON, visit: http://www.kconusa.com/

GALLERY

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