KCON returned to Los Angeles this past weekend to celebrate its 10th anniversary and mark its first in-person installation since 2019. Presented by Toyota and produced by leading entertainment company CJ Entertainment, the multifaceted festival brought some of K-Pop’s biggest names and rising acts such as ATEEZ, CRAVITY, ENHYPEN, INI, ITZY, Kep1er, LIGHTSUM, Stray Kids, LOONA, NCT DREAM, NMIXX, P1Harmony, STAYC, THE BOYZ, TO1, and WJSN under one roof to perform. The event racked in over 90,000 fans in attendance and an online viewership of 7.17 million.
KCON USA first launched back in 2012 with an attendance of around 10,000. Since then, Korean culture and music have boomed throughout North America, gaining widespread popularity. The event invites fans from around the world to the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Crypto.com Arena to connect with each other, a variety of artists, and Korean entertainment professionals.
This year’s convention provided fans with an ensemble of content comprising everything regarding the K-lifestyle from movies and dramas to food and beauty. Like previous years, KCON 2022 LA had a plethora of idol appearances. Attendees needed to constantly stay on guard to catch groups that would simultaneously take the floor for scheduled and surprise appearances.
The three-day event hit the ground running on Friday, August 19 to highlight the signature introduction of KCON ROOKIES. CRAVITY, LIGHTSUM, STAYC, and TO1 performed their hit songs for present and future fans, setting the tone for the rest of the weekend. The four groups plan to continue their momentum by headlining the KCON tour set to hit six additional cities following KCON 2022 LA.
KCON 2022 LA offered interactive programs where fans could engage with a variety of artists and personalities. At the KCON SQUARE, K-Pop groups conversed with fans and acted out various challenges related to the genre. The talking sessions gave K-Pop fans the space to discover and connect with INI, Kep1er, LOONA, and TO1. The KCON DANCE ALL DAY workshop created a stress-free environment to learn and take classes from K-Pop’s top choreographers. A special event organized by KCON 2022 LA helped make fans’ idol dreams a reality. The producers of the hit reality audition program GIRLS PLANET 999 held in-person auditions for their upcoming project BOYS PLANET, a groundbreaking program aiming to create a global K-Pop boy group.
A calmer environment from the bustling convention floor, fans could attend one of the many impressive panels featuring fan-favorite guests such as famous TikTok illustrator anelderlymeme, interviewer Liam McEwan, photographer David Suh, entertainment insider Jeff Benjamin, and a variety of other talents. Fans had the chance to interact and dance battle with idol groups such as CRAVITY and WJSN. The intimate interaction sparked attention as fans wrapped around the hallway before the panels in hopes of seeing their idols up close and personal. After opening the doors, seats quickly filled and the overflow crowd lined up on the back wall in preparation for the segment.
During Saturday’s panel, CRAVITY shared that they would break into teams and invite three lucky fans to join them in a dance competition. After randomly choosing fans from the crowd, each team practiced their respective choreography to their hit songs “Adrenaline,” “Gas Pedal,” and “My Turn.” The lively event ended in wide smiles and a three-way tie. Participant Andy Okuda proved himself a standout on stage by impressively executing the choreography he learned prior to the competition. “While they were looking in the crowd, I made eye contact with Minhee and Seongmin and started doing the choreography for ‘Adrenaline’ in my seat.” He caught the members’ eyes and earned him his spot on their team. When asked about the experience he eagerly shared, “Dancing with them just felt unreal. The crazy thing was ‘Adrenaline’ was actually the dance I did for K-Pop auditions, so it felt like it was meant to be when they called me up to dance with them.” He went on to express the kindness the members showed him and the desire to become an idol like them one day.
Arguably one of the most notable portions of the weekend, Kep1ler’s (Saturday) and LOONA’s (Sunday) “DREAM STAGE” provided fans with the opportunity to audition and compete with the choreography for “WA DA DA” and “PTT (Paint the Town)” in hopes to perform with the groups on stage during KCON’s main concerts. The competitions consisted of preliminary rounds where over 100 participants showed their skills in an attempt to be chosen by dancer and judge Eddie V to move on to the next round. Those that cleared the first round competed in a final elimination battle before waiting anxiously to see if they would dance alongside some of their favorite idols. The event marked a milestone for KCON by displaying multifarious genders, body types, and ethnicities, ultimately showing the increasing global growth of K-Pop.
A weekend jam-packed with activities, idol interactions, and performances, KCON continues to be the leading festival for all things K-culture. The popularity of K-Pop only continues to rise, proving the future of the genre and KCON to be full of untapped potential and promise. Goodbye, KCON LA. We’ll see you in 2023!