Home Entertainment Korean Pop-Culture Festival Wraps on Musical High Note

Korean Pop-Culture Festival Wraps on Musical High Note

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The Korean pop culture festival KCON LA wrapped up its live edition on Sunday with a second multi-concert on the Crypto.com stage in Los Angeles.

The craze for Korean culture seems to have barely waned due to the COVID disruption, during which the genreโ€™s digital natives all but come together and KCON morphs into KCON:TACT.

The seamless flow between online and offline iterations of the fanbase is a key feature of the convention, held in person for the first time since 2019. Organizers confirmed Monday that the three-day convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center drew more than 90,000 real-world visitors and an additional 7.17 million video streams from around the world.

โ€œThe Asian American community, they existed 12 years ago [when KCON started]. They are at home. Now they are everywhere. They donโ€™t have a community,โ€ said Kevin Woo, a San Francisco-native singer and actor who trained and found success in the Korean talent system. In mid-October, heโ€™s heading to Broadway with โ€œK-Pop: The Musical.โ€

In a presentation Friday, Woo talked about his own experiences with K-Pop and the intense and constant craze of the genre. โ€œI envy this generation. You can use social media, create dance covers [in the U.S.] Seeing them spread like a virus, people returning to South Korea will see them too. But Woo also confirmed the enormous pressure on the Korean music industry. โ€œYou have to love attention.โ€ You will have to sacrifice your private life for five years. At a minimum,โ€ he said.

Kep1er meets fans at KCON LA 2022.
KCON LA

In the conference hall, most of these pressures and tensions were put aside and replaced by a series of fast-paced fan events (the idols meet the college-age crowd), dance instruction and dance competitions, one of which was called โ€œDance Relayโ€ โ€˜, โ€˜ and lots of photo manipulation.

Many of the convention floor attractions feature video technology, allowing fans to virtually pose with stars or put themselves in sets of Korean dramas โ€” the modern equivalent of twisted mirrors and your face from fairgrounds and circuses Go here to the cardboard cut out old.

College-age fans seem to have straddled Americaโ€™s racial divide and embraced multiple aspects of South Koreaโ€™s soft power. These include stalls run by food and cosmetic companies.

The two-day Marketing Summit gave KCON LA a higher academic and business perspective. The sidebar includes insightful talks from American university professors as well as how-to talks from platforms like TikTok, designed to help U.S. businesses capitalize on K-waves themselves.

Event organizer CJ ENM also used KCON LA to audition for American hopefuls for a TV talent show that will launch next year. The show aims to discover a new global K-Pop boy band.

Confusingly, given its success at the Oscars and major film festivals, Korean cinema appears to be largely sidelined at this yearโ€™s convention. This may be corrected in future iterations, CJ ENM sources said.

This weekend, however, music was the main driver. A warm-up mini-concert on Friday featured KCON newcomers Cravity, Lightsum, Stayc and TO1. These new performances will next make their way to the Six Cities U.S. tour.

Saturdayโ€™s three-hour show features Ateez, Cravity, Enhypen, INI, Itzy, Kep1er, Lightsum and Stray Kids, along with Bebe Rexha performing โ€œBreak My Heart Myselfโ€ with Itzy.

Sunday was lit by Loona, NCT Dream, NMIXX, P1Harmony, Stayc, The Boyz, TO1 and WJSN. TO1โ€™s set includes a cover performance of Psyโ€™s โ€œThat Thatโ€.

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KCON LA fans and bands on the conference floor.
KCON LA

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