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Kcon crowd

Hallyu Fever at KCON 2015

Where K-Pop Fans Feel at Home

The fourth annual KCON-Los Angeles, a mega Korean hallyu convention, drew tens of thousands of attendees.


For Luis Cisneros and Adrian Botello, students at the University of California, Davis, it meant journeying by bus from Sacramento. For Bethany Chadwick, an 18-year-old from Fort Myers, Fla., it meant ditching her family—who had traveled to Los Angeles to spend a vacation together—for the day.

Their destination was the Los Angeles Convention Center for KCON-LA 2015, the annual extravaganza that boasts a giant K-pop concert, vendor fair and blitz of workshops rolled into one. From wherever they traveled, they were eager to celebrate all things hallyu, or “Korean wave” that refers to the popularity of the culture all over the world, particularly in music.

“I met [hip-hop boy band] GOT7 and it was amazing because I high-fived every member,” said Chadwick, the intrepid Floridian who trekked to KCON during a family vacation. “I found out about K-pop through YouTube two years ago. I watched EXO’s ‘Growl,’ and ever since then I fell in love with the genre. I started to follow other K-pop groups, and then I wanted to learn more about the whole Korean culture.”

Kcon fans


Indeed, if the 58,000 fans in attendance at this year’s convention, held July 31 to August 2, was any indication, the CJ E&M and Mnet America-organized event that draws people of all ethnic backgrounds (mostly non-Korean), was another smashing success.

This year’s concerts at L.A.’s Staples Center featured Monsta X, GOT7, SISTAR, Roy Kim, Super Junior, Red Velvet, Block B, AOA, Zion. T & Crush and Shinhwa.

During the day, fans packed into rooms to hear such people as actor Ki Hong Lee, model Irene Kim and screenwriter Ji-eun Park, of hit Korean drama My Love From Another Star, discuss their success in their respective fields. Panels included everything from an academic-style discussion (“What is K-pop?”) to reflective commentary (“What does it mean to be Korean?”) to pro-tips in “Hallyu Culture Shock Q&A,” a session where experts clued listeners in on how to impress a native Korean. (Drink soju really well, eat spicy foods and have an extroverted mindset during karaoke.)

During one panel, “The Secret Lives of K-Pop Fans Over 30,” June Salidino of Hallyu Magazine expressed her feelings on being an older K-pop fan. “If people want to judge me, fine, judge me. But until you’ve been in my shoes and you lived the K-pop and K-drama life, don’t judge me,” she said. “Because once you get into it, you are there forever.”

That sentiment pretty much summed up the spirit of the event. Although marketed towards the 18 to 34 age range, the event is seeing an increase in family participation, according to organizers. In L.A, more than 70 percent of attendees were female, with nearly three-quarters age 24 or younger.

“In terms of the size of KCON and its growth, we always knew that the market was there,” Sang Cho, president and CEO of Mnet America, said by email to KoreAm. “What we didn’t necessarily expect is how truly ‘national’ the event has become in a short time frame.”

This was the first year KCON, which debuted in 2012 in Irvine, Calif., held an East Coast version, staging an event in Newark, N.J. the weekend after the West Coast festivities.

As fans looked to buy, sell and trade “audience engagement” and red carpet passes so they could see their favorite stars up close, mini-swap sessions broke out on the floor of the L.A. Convention Center and on the web via Facebook K-pop fan pages. Prices reportedly rose up to $200 for some passes.

kcon acts

On the convention floor, singer Soyu of girl group SISTAR offered makeup tutorials and danced to the group’s hit single, “Shake It,” while hip-hop boy band Monsta X made a surprise appearance, performing its debut song, “Trespass,” to the delight of convention-goers.

“Because you’re so used to seeing them on a tiny screen on your phone,” gushed Anna Luna, a 16-year-old high school student from Bakersfield, Calif., “seeing Monsta X right in front of you makes it even more special.”

Perhaps the KCON 2015 experience was best summarized by Nicole Zatrian, who explained the unifying effect of K-pop in her eyes.

“K-pop connects so many people across the world—not just that small niche of people in high school,” said the 19-year-old from North Hollywood, who is of Mexican and Italian heritage. “Honestly, the people I’ve seen listen to it are happier than the average person, which is kind of weird to say, but it’s true.”

See Also


[VIDEO] SPICA on U.S. Debut at KCON 2014

An IDOL Moment with Music Producer Glen Choi


Photos courtesy of CJ E&M

This article was published in the August/September 2015 issue of KoreAm.Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the August/September issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days.)



Super Junior Wins Choice International Artist at 2015 Teen Choice Awards

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Super Junior on Sunday became the first Korean artist to ever win a Teen Choice Award.

The 2015 Teen Choice Awards took place at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 16. Last month, Super Junior was nominated along with K-pop groups Girls’ Generation and 2NE1. Other nominated international bands included One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer and Little Mix.

More than 25 million people voted for their favorite artists on the Teen Choice Awards poll via social media. Super Junior fans had more reason to celebrate, as the band’s official fan club ELF was given the Choice Fandom award.

Last month, Super Junior released its eighth album Devil, which topped the iTunes Album Chart in 10 Asian and European countries.

In recent years, K-pop and Korean indie music has been gaining global popularity. There were more than 10 Korean musicians on the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) roster last March, including YB, The Barbarettes, Big Phony, Epik High, Crayon Pop and EE. 2NE1’s leader CL is also currently preparing for her American solo debut, which is slated for sometime this year.

See Also


K-Pop Meets EDM: The Rise of Korean Trap Music

Producer Glen Choi’s Music Makes K-pop Fans “Go Crazy!”

The Rise of Illionaire Records


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[VIDEO] Emma Stone Admits Her K-pop Obsession on ‘Conan’

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

It’s official. Emma Stone is a confirmed Blackjack.

On Tuesday night, Stone publicly announced her obsession with K-pop on Conan, describing the music to be “beyond excellent” and “very addictive.” When host Conan O’brien asked the Hollywood actress which K-pop artist was her current favorite, Stone listed girl group 2NE1, eliciting cheers from the audience. She later chose “I Am the Best” as her favorite song from the group.

Stone added that she became acquainted with the K-pop quartet when she was in Seoul three years ago for the The Amazing Spider-Man premiere.

When Conan’s co-host Andy Richter claimed that each K-pop band has about 15 members, Stone showed off her K-pop knowledge and corrected him, saying that only certain groups, such as Girls’ Generation, have a large number of members.

There’s no doubt that South Korean music has grown to become a global phenomenon in recent years, with several K-pop and K-indie artists touring overseas and performing at renowned music festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and Liverpool Sound City. In addition, K-pop groups 2NE1, Girls’ Generation and Super Junior were recently nominated for a Teen Choice award.

You can watch the full clip of Conan and Stone’s K-pop conversation below:

See Also


Will the Real Hapa Please Stand Up?

6 Korean Indie Songs That Will Get You in the Mood for Fall


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2NE1, Girls’ Generation, Super Junior Nominated for Teen Choice Awards

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Right on the heels of KCON 2015, FOX will be hosting its annual Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles next month. This year, three K-pop groups have been nominated for the inaugural Choice International Artist award.

Hip-hop quartet 2NE1 was nominated for the brand new category on Wednesday, alongside SM Entertainment’s Girls’ Generation and Super Junior. The three K-pop acts will be competing against British-Irish boy band One Direction, Australian rock band 5 Seconds of Summer, and British girl group Little Mix.

Launched in 1999 by FOX Network, the Teen Choice Awards celebrates popular and influential figures in film, TV, music and fashion. Every year, American teens between the ages of 13 and 19 vote for their favorite celebrity in each category, and the winners receive a surfboard with the awards show’s logo for that year.

K-pop fans can vote for their favorite artist by visiting TeenChoice.com or posting the artist’s name with the hashtag #ChoiceInternationalAward on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Voting ends next Friday, July 24.

The 2015 Teen Choice Awards will be held at Los Angeles’ Galen Center on Aug. 16 and will be aired live at 8-10 p.m. ET on Fox.

Last week, Girls’ Generation released the music video for their latest summer hit, “Party,” which currently has over 13 million views. Meanwhile, Super Junior is expected to release their 10th anniversary album, Devil, on Thursday. CL of 2NE1 is also slated to make her U.S. debut as a solo artist sometime later this year.

This is not the first time K-pop artists have been invited to the Teen Choice Awards. In 2009, Wonder Girls attended the ceremony as guests after opening up for The Jonas Brothers during their world tour.


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Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany and Sooyoung Attend New York Fashion Week

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Girls’ Generation members Tiffany and Sooyoung were recently spotted at the 2015 Fall/Winter New York Fashion Week, reports KpopStarz.

Michael Kors personally invited Tiffany to attend his show, and the K-pop star flooded her Instagram with photos of her posing with the designer, Mama Kors, model Karlie Koss and fashion blogger Aimee Song.

Tiffany with Mama Kors (Photo via Tiffany’s Instagram)

Tiffany takes a selfie with model Karlie Koss (Photo via Tiffany’s Instagram)

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.21.56 PMTiffany poses with Aimee Song (Photo via Tiffany’s Instagram)

Sooyoung, on the other hand, was invited by Coach’s Creative Director Stuart Vevers to attend the brand’s Fall 2015 runway show. Since the long-legged beauty was celebrating her 25th birthday in New York City, Coach sent her a special birthday present: a blue Swagger Carryall bag, which retails at $495. She attended the show in a gorgeous all pink attire and sat in a front row V.I.P seat.

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@ front row. #coachfall2015 #COACH #NYfashionweek #ny #StuartVevers @coach

A photo posted by Sooyoung (@syofgg) on

Spotted at the #CoachFall2015 presentation: @syofgg #NYFW

A photo posted by Sooyoung (@syofgg) on

It’s been reported that former Girls’ Generation member Jessica and her sister Krystal of girl group f(x) were visiting New York during the fashion week. It is unknown whether or not they attended any shows.


Featured image via Tiffany’s Instagram

soompi sm theater

SM Entertainment to Release the World’s First Hologram Musical

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

SM Entertainment will premiere the world’s first hologram musical, School OZ, on Jan. 14 in Seoul, according to Soompi.

Based loosely on The Wizard of Oz, this hologram fantasy musical stars various SM artists, including Changmin of TVXQ, Key of SHINee, Suho and Xiumin of EXO and Red Velvet’s Seulgi. The story will center on the search for Dorothy, who mysteriously disappears before the day of the “Great Knight” championship. The 110-minute show will be screened at the SMTOWN Theatre, taking advantage of the venue’s high-definition screens, projectors and its start-of-the-art sound system.

SM Entertainment will also screen its hologram concert Girl Story, which stars Yoona of Girls’ Generation and SHINee’s Minho, on the same day of the musical’s premiere.

Tickets for both performances will be available starting Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. KST and can be purchased via the app “SMTOWN Theatre” or the agency’s dedicated website.

You can watch the trailer for School OZ below:


Featured image courtesy of Soompi


IU Named South Korea’s Favorite Singer of 2014

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

K-pop soloist IU was crowned South Korea’s favorite singer of 2014 in a poll conducted by Gallup Korea.

According to Yonhap, the poll was conducted from October to November and surveyed 2,774 people, ages 13 to 59, across the nation. IU topped the poll with 12.9 percent of all votes, edging out Girls’ Generation, who came in a close second with 12.4 percent of votes.

Earlier this year, the 21-year-old singer released a mini-album titled A Flower Bookmark, which was entirely comprised of covers of nostalgic K-pop songs from the late ’80s. Despite the lack of promotions, the album was a critical and commercial success, with most of her songs topping Korean music charts. The soloist was even featured in K-pop pioneer Seo Taiji’s song “Sogyeokdong,” making IU the first artist to collaborate with the veteran in 22 years.

Other artists that ranked in the top 10 included Sistar, EXO, Lee Sun-hee, Girls’ Day, Lee Sung-chul, Cho Yong-pil and BEAST.

According to Gallup Korea, a majority of teens picked EXO as the country’s favorite artist this year. Meanwhile, voters in their twenties and thirties chose IU.

Photo courtesy of Loen Tree.


Tiffany of Girls’ Generation to Perform with John Legend

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Looks like Tiffany of Girls’ Generation will be sharing the spotlight with John Legend at the 2014 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in Hong Kong.

According to Soompi, an Mnet representative said that Legend had expressed his interest in collaborating with the K-pop singer, and SM Entertainment accepted his love call. Previously, there were a lot of speculation regarding the international collaboration when Tiffany posted on Instagram a screenshot of Legend’s “All of Me” playing on her smartphone. Although details of the joint performance are still under wraps, fans are already highly anticipating the duet between the two singers.

This is not the first time MAMA has hosted an international collaboration on its stage. Last year, Hyorin of SISTAR performed with the legendary Stevie Wonder. In 2011, 2NE1’s CL performed a cover of The Black Eyed Peas’s hit song “Where Is the Love?” with will.i.am and apl.de.ap in Singapore.

The 2014 MAMA will be held in Hong Kong’s Asia World Expo Arena on Dec.3. Other artists in the lineup includes G-Dragon and  Taeyang, IU, EXO, INFINITE, SISTAR and more.

Photo courtesy of Soompi