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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


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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.)


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Rolling Stone Names CL as One of the ’10 New Artists You Need to Know’

Rolling Stone has named CL of K-pop girl group 2NE1 as one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” of August 2015.

The music magazine described CL as one of the “buzziest female rappers in Korea” and noted that she will be releasing an American debut EP this fall on the Mad Decent label. Details about the project is still under wraps, but CL already has collaborations with Skrillex, will.i.am and Diplo under her belt.

The 24-year-old rapper is starting her American solo career under the wing of Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. Braun reportedly met CL in April 2013 and was impressed by her English proficiency, rapping skills and fashion sense.

#mdbp15 #BROOKLYN

A photo posted by CL (@chaelincl) on

The music video for CL’s collaboration track with Diplo, OG Maco and RiFF RAFF titled “Doctor Pepper” released last on Aug. 14. According to Rolling Stone, the rapper wrote the song while she was irritated with Diplo after he canceled a recording session.

Earlier this month, CL also performed on the Brooklyn stage for the Mad Decent Block Party tour. She is set to perform in future tour cities, including Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the next few weeks.


Featured image via CL/Instagram

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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.

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

The Rise of Illionaire Records


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Grevin Museum Seoul

Asia’s First Grévin Museum Brings Hallyu Stars to Life

by ALEX HYUN | @ahyundarkb4dawn

Ever wish you could meet Psy and take a selfie with him? Well, now you can! The famous French waxwork museum, Musée Grévin, opened its first Asian branch in Seoul on Thursday, the Korean Herald reported.

Run jointly with Mast Entertainment, Grévin Seoul focuses sharply on Korean pop-culture and entertainment and is the world’s largest exhibition featuring Hallyu stars, from first generation to rising talent.

“We decided Seoul to be our first destination for Grévin Museum in Asia because the city has rich history and strong cultural content. From here, the Hallyu boom has spread throughout Asia,” said Dominique Marcel, CEO of Grévin’s parent company, Compagnie des Alpes, the Korean Herald quoted.

The venue hosts seven extensive exhibits: Hallyu Stars, International Stars, History & Great Men, The Great Champions, Artists at Work, Hall of Fame and Discovery Atelier.

In the Hallyu Stars exhibit, museum guests can pose on the red carpet with popular Korean actors, such as Bae Yong-joon, Choi Ji-woo, Kim Soo-hyun, Park Shin-hye and Lee Min-ho. Meanwhile, K-pop fans can share the spotlight with their favorite artists, including G-dragon and Rain.

Guests can also snap photos with global icons like Paris Hilton, Brad Pitt and ex-figure skating champion Kim Yuna. The museum also uses state-of-the-art audio and light symptoms to fully immerse visitors in the viewing experience.

Although the museum displays foreign political figures, such as Barack Obama, Xi Jinping and Queen Elizabeth II, attendees will notice that there are no waxworks of South Korean political figures–with the exception of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“We wanted to stay away from local politics because it’s sensitive and we wanted personalities everyone would be happy with,” Kim Yong-kwan, CEO of Mast Entertainment, told Agence France-Presse. He added that the museum did contact South Korean President Park Geun-hye, but did not receive a response.

At the end of each museum tour, guests are treated to a workshop where they can learn the process of wax figure making and create their own facial wax figures by using a special scanning software.

The Grévin, which has branches in France, Prague and Montreal, hopes the Seoul museum can attract tourists from other Asian countries in the near future. The Seoul site expects to attract about 450,000 visitors per year including foreign tourists.

Currently, Grévin Seoul has 80 life-size wax models of global figures, with 30 of them representing Koreans. The museum plans to add four to five new waxworks each year.

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Jeremy Lin Pretends to Be a Wax Statue, Pranks Museum Guests

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Featured image via Yonhap

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Naver to Launch Global K-pop Streaming App

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Keeping up with your K-pop idols is about to get a whole lot easier. South Korean search portal Naver is set to launch the “V” app, a real-time broadcasting app that streams K-pop content from around the world, by the end of next month.

South Korea’s major entertainment agencies, including SM and YG, have already partnered with Naver to live-stream not just concerts but also behind-the-scenes activities. Through the V app, K-pop stars will be able to communicate directly with fans in real-time and share sneak peeks into their busy schedules.

While the V app will primarily focus on Asian countries where K-pop is popular, including Japan, China and Southeast Asia, the app’s goal is to reach all audiences around the globe. All of the app’s features will be in English, and Korean content won’t be a problem as each broadcast will include real-time English subtitles.

Naver did acknowledge that not every country is as connected wirelessly compared to South Korea, which has the fastest Internet speed in the world. The V app will also be available to use on personal computers for countries where smartphone penetration is not as prevalent.

As for expansion, Naver is looking to bring in other hallyu celebrities into the V app, including film and television actors. Naver’s online video platform, TV Cast, could offer more opportunities for broadcasting as well.

The V app will begin its first testing phase on Android on Aug. 1, with the iOS version following mid-month. The app will be available sometime by the end of August.

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Featured image courtesy of Naver 

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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:

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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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kcon guests

Korean Celebs Daniel Henney, Kim Soo-hyun to Attend KCON L.A. 2015

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Just as comic book, film and TV fans are soaking up pop culture galore at San Diego Comic-Con this week, Hallyu fans will have a chance to meet their idols at KCON 2015 later this month.

KCON announced Thursday that actors Kim Soo-hyun, Daniel Henney, Ki Hong Lee and Son Ho-jun will be joining the convention’s L.A. lineup. From July 31 to Aug.2, the star-studded convention will host autograph sessions, workshops, celebrity panels and concerts.

Best known for his role in the wildly popular South Korean drama My Love from Another Star, Kim Soo-hyun is one of the biggest names in Hallyu today. The 27-year-old actor first rose to fame after starring in the musical drama Dream High. He recently wrapped his latest project The Producers, a mockumentary set in a Korean broadcasting company.

Daniel Henney is a household name among K-drama and Hollywood fans. Born in Michigan to a Korean adoptee mother and a American father, Henney first rose to fame in Korea after playing a charismatic surgeon in the popular 2005 drama My Lovely Sam Soon. Since then, he has starred in films and TV series in both sides of the world, including roles in X-Men OriginsWolverineBig Hero 6 and My Father. Henney will be making his U.S. television comeback as a series regular in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

Ki Hong Lee has been enjoying rising popularity since starring in The Maze Runner last year. After honing his acting chops in various Wong Fu shorts and ABC Family’s The Nine Lives of Chloe King, Lee currently plays the love interest in the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He returns to the silver screen this year in The Stanford Prison Experiment and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

Son Ho-jun has garnered several Best New Actor nominations for portraying the character “Haitai” in the 2013 drama Reply 1994. Since then, the singer-turned-actor has appeared as a regular and guest star in popular Korean variety shows, including Running Man and Youth Over Flowers.

This year, KCON will be held in both coasts, with over 90 celebrities slated to attend. In L.A., K-pop artists Super Junior, Shinhwa, Zion.T & Crush, Got7, SISTAR, Roy Kim, Block B and AOA will perform at the Staples Center on Aug. 1 and 2. Meanwhile, Girls Generation, Teen Top and VIXX will headline the New York concert.

To learn more about KCON 2015, visit the official website here. Last year, KoreAm interviewed girl group SPICA during the U.S. debut at KCON 2014. You can watch the interview below:

See Also


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March 2013 Cover Story: Daniel Henney


Featured image via KCON and Daum 

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