KCon - Los Angeles Sports Arena - 8/25/13
Missy Elliot, 2AM, EXO, f(x), and others
All photos courtesy of CJ E&M f(x) performs at KCon 2013
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
KCon is a massive K-pop festival, and the 2013 edition went down this weekend at the Sports Arena. What was it? Well, it felt like a particularly fashionable church camp. America's next batch of millennial missionaries is smaller, savvier and smilier than you might expect. Their prophets are the talented and lovably artificial newest wave of Korean pop stars.
See also: The 10 Sexiest Women in K-Pop
This year the event moved from Irvine to L.A.'s Memorial Sports Arena, featuring elements from every corner of the hallyu ("Korean wave") culture across two days. During more than 40 panels and performances, thousands of mostly teen fans, mostly from outside California, learned how to start K-pop fan clubs (Do: Greet bands at the airport. Don't: Write them "letters in blood") and perform K-pop dance moves. "You guys are the cogs in the K-pop machine," they were told. They had their photos taken with cut-outs of Psy, and they heard multiple music execs claim to like Psy before it was cool. They got to ask their idols questions. (They even got to just blurt statements, like, "Write your name with your butt.") And most importantly, they got to witness them in shiny, well-oiled action.
KCon offered an opportunity to worship Korean culture in like-minded company on this continent, and this year's much larger KCon ended with the first U.S. live-taping of M Countdown. The enormously popular weekly K-pop TV show, which hails from South Korea and is broadcast in 14 countries, is as polished, enthusiastic and over-the-top as the teen idols it spotlights. True to form, last night's two-and-a-half-hour American inauguration was heavily choreographed: Every fan entered the festival gates with a free rainbow light (!) wand.
Dreamy girl group f(x) was the first act to appear quasi-magically out of nowhere, its five one-named members strutting like life-sized dolls out of a car parked conveniently stage left. Decked out in sporty, sassy and sultry varieties of the same black-and-yellow patterns, the girls looked like leftovers from Tina Knowles' Destiny Child days as they took turns ducking deftly in and out of the spotlight during catchy jams like "Electric Shock" and "Hot Summer." Although the group features both Korean and Chinese members, it was Los Angeles native Amber who raked in the most applause during f(x)'s brief shout-out to the audience.
See also: The 10 Sexiest Men in K-Pop