Saturday, June 23, marked the first day of KCON 2018 NY Presented by Toyota. The “All Things Hallyu” convention, which began in 2012, celebrates Korean pop culture and brings popular Korean groups to perform in various countries across the world.
As early as 10 a.m., fans were seen lining up at the Prudential Center, the home of KCON NY over the past several years, in order to pick up convention passes and potential hi-touches/red carpet scratch-offs. Booths featuring beauty products, popular baked goods and foods, and merchandise for fans to enjoy were up and running. In fact, this year’s KCON featured a new segment called “Star Live” during which idols interacted with their audiences by answering questions and sometimes even performing cute little dances on the huge KCON outdoor stage. Alongside these highlight appearances were performances by local artists from near and far, panels that discussed international fandom, the evolution of K-Pop, and being part of the LGBTQ+ fan community. There was something for every fan!
On the first night of the red carpet, fans gathered and watched music videos by their favorite artists who would soon be walking the carpet. As groups entered one by one, they answered a few questions before granting a randomly selected fan request. A personal favorite of the night was when one fan gave their number to the members of Red Velvet. The girls jokingly replied that they memorized the number and thanked the fan! Groups also did funny poses and danced to choruses of their hit songs.
After the red carpet was the highly anticipated concert and the long-awaited M Countdown moment! The concert started off strongly with a pre-show hosted by Danny Lim. First, he introduced YouTube star JunCurryAhn. Jun performed a violin rendition of “Bad Boy” by Red Velvet and then performed his very own single “When You Call.” The soulful and sassy eSNa followed, sharing that she had written hit songs such as “Hello” for Mamamoo and “Some” for Junggio and Soyou. eSNa also performed parts of songs like “Me,Today,” “Ah Oop,” and “Ah, Shit!” New York has always appreciated strong vocals and eSNa definitely had them! Right afterwards, fans in the audience randomly received signed towels from Stray Kids and Pentagon, starting off the night with a bang.
Next was DJ Ginjo, a member of SM Entertainment’s group TRAX. DJ Ginjo performed remixes of songs, slowly leading up to a remix of “Sorry Sorry” by Super Junior. At the same time, Super Junior dramatically entered the stage, greeting and hyping up the fans for the evening. JYP Entertainment’s newest group, Stray Kids, followed and set a strong, passionate tone for the evening with their rapping skills and surprisingly strong dance moves for a rookie group. As they introduced themselves, the excitement and awe was felt all around the venue as the nonet announced that it was their 90-day Anniversary. The group continued with their set which included the songs “District 9,” “Mirror,” and “Hellevator.”
Popular solo artist Heize was next on the lineup, arriving with beautiful, glittery hair and capturing the audience with her soothing vocals. Her performances included the songs “Didn’t Know Me,” “Star,” and “Don’t Know You.” A duet by Yesung of Super Junior and Seulgi of Red Velvet followed, “Darling U,” which gained many exclamations of “aw” from the crowd due to the pair’s cuteness.
Up next was a highly-awaited group, Pentagon. Pentagon’s popularity has been growing for quite awhile now, and that was definitely seen during that night. Pentagon sang their popular hits, “Shine,” “Gorilla,” “Can You Feel It,” and “Pretty Pretty.” “Shine” and “Gorilla” were definite crowd favorites – everyone sang along and some fans even fans danced along! The group’s talents were shown off during their introductions where certain members freestyle rapped to random topics such as “romantic” and “lucky.”
Only two groups remained, and anticipation grew within the Prudential Center. Red Velvet powerfully entered the stage with their song “Bad Boy” and surprised fans with an English version of the hit song. Without missing a beat, the girls continued on with “Red Flavor.” The group then introduced themselves with huge smiles and announced that they would play a game with the audience called “Wish Roulette.” In “Wish Roulette,” randomly selected questions submitted by fans were chosen for each member. For members who didn’t participate, they instead played a picture game where they would pose and random audience members had to copy that pose. Then, a camera would snapshot it and display it on the big screen. Red Velvet continued their set with “Rookie” and the most-voted-for song, “Peek-A-Boo!” Everyone eagerly awaited the final stage, which would feature Super Junior. However surprise performances followed Red Velvet’s! Pentagon and Stray Kids collaborated together to show off passionate stages along with the night’s set theme of “passion.”
Finally, the moment many had waited for: Super Junior’s stage! A remix of “Black Suit” started and Super Junior dramatically stood on the stage singing along. Loud screams could be heard and their signature glow sticks created pools of “sapphire blue” to show that many long-time ELFs were there to support them. The group then introduced themselves and also played a game with the audience. In the game, member Eunhyuk would dance a popular move from their hit songs such as the hand rubbing from “Sorry Sorry” or the hip thrusts in “Bonamana,” and fans had to copy them. When they continued with their newest song “Lo Siento,” the audience was surprised when Leslie Grace entered the stage and performed alongside them! Fans could be heard singing along in Spanish! Super Junior thanked Leslie for all of her hard work and complimented her various times with cute phrases such as “Thank you, sexy bonita mamacita” to the audience’s laughter and delight. Next, a remix was played featuring all the songs that allowed Super Junior to rise to stardom such as “Sorry Sorry,” “Bonamana,” “Mr. Simple,” and one of their earliest songs, “Miracle.” Tears could be seen rolling down fans’ faces as many were brought back to their nostalgic K-Pop days.
The concert came to a close as all groups come onto stage, waving to fans, and bowing to them as a thank you for the evening. Confetti rained down and fans thanked the groups, watching them leave the stage. It was a night not to be forgotten!
Written By: Natalie J. & Justin W.