KCON L.A. Panel Sessions Experience

Panel Sessions Key Takeaways

Since 2012 KCON Los Angeles has held a convention showcasing talented Korean artist, producers, and companies.  This year KCON was held from August 10-12th at the Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown L.A.  KCON hosts three full days of panel discussions along with K-pop concerts held in the evening on Saturday and Sunday.

A brief introduction of KCON for anyone who is not familiar with the global convention.  KCON is a showcase of Korean entertainment and culture with panels, concerts and artist engagements.  Different venues of KCON is held around the world in Australia, Europe, Japan, Mexico, New York and soon to be Thailand to name a few.

I could focus on the groups that were performing at KCON, however this year I’ll focus on the panels that were presented.  Not only were some of my favorite YouTubers there to discuss their experiences so far, but there were also some insights into K-pop Journalism that I didn’t expect to obtain.

After parking at the Los Angeles Convention Center, I followed the small crowd towards the Lobby area.  I passed a small group of dancers practicing for the dance competition later on that day and went to the check-in area.  Immediately I noticed a big difference than the last KCON I attended three years ago. There were two separate entrances for attendees.  The first check-in area (managed by security) was for the VIP’s, press and specially invited guests.  The second check-in area was for all other attendees.

Registration Line

I purchased my ticket online so I was able to get into the pre-registered line.  Which was a big time saver since the lines were separated into two groups?  The line moved quickly and I was able to find the ticket agent to pick up my badge.  Tip: Have your confirmation page printed or available on your phone ready so that you can move through the line quickly.

Although I didn’t follow this rule, luckily the ticket agent was able to use the time to restock his pamphlets and gift bags pile.  After the ticketing agent scanned my code I was given a KCON wristband and a gift bag. The ticketing agent relayed a brief warning not to remove the wristband while I was attending the conference.

It turns out the wristband was actually electronic and security scanned the band each time you entered into the convention area.  Inside the gift bag was a peach handheld fan which would come in handy as I moved to the next security check-in.

Security Check-in

I made my way to the entrance of the West Hall Convention entrance and stood in the next line to get inside the Convention Center.  This process was also different than from what I remember.  This line moved a little bit slower since security checked inside each handbag or backpack.

Thankfully, snacks and drinks were allowed inside the convention with no rules or restrictions.  After, a brief moment of waiting in the sun, I made my way through security and into the convention hall.

KCON L.A. Panel Session Experience

The first panel didn’t begin until 11:00 a.m. so I had a little bit of time to find the correct room and get settled.  As we waited for the session to begin I chatted with other attendees about recent interviews we had seen of popular K-pop artist press junkets.

KCON Panels

K-pop Journalism

The K-pop Journalism session begins with Jeff Benjamin and his team came into the room full of energy.  For those of you who are not familiar with Jeff’s work, he’s a Billboard K-pop columnist who lives in New York, N.Y.

He has written articles for the last five years on K-pop for companies such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone and N.P.R.  So when you read one of his stories you can feel his genuine passion and love for Korean music.

K-pop Journalism: Five Key Takeaways

Writing Rule:  Be able to write about anything whether it’s a song of the day, idol groups, movie review or new music release.

Knowledge of genre: Own the knowledge that you have and keep gaining knowledge as a fan and a writer.

POV: Who do you want to speak to on your blog, podcast, Youtube, and social media channels?  Also, how can you make it accessible for someone who is not yet a fan of K-pop?

Artist Interactions:  Present a band/group in a respectful way.  Show the artist that you care and try to immediately establish a connection by mentioning their recent work.

Interviews: Treat interviews like it’s just two people talking, and don’t let distractions break your concentration from the conversation.

To close out the session Jeff shared a mural of selfie pictures that he has taken with several artists over the years.  He had so many behind the scenes stories to tell about Shinee, BTOB, EXO, and so many more that I wished the session lasted a little longer.

If you would like to read Jeff’s stories follow him on social media @Jeff__benjamin

Behind The Scenes Of Korean Entertainment

The panelist was Lee Joo-Seob, CEO of Chungha and Choi J-Hoon the general manager of Amoeba Culture.

KCON L.A. Panel Session Experience, L-R ~ Choi Ji-Hoon, Lee Joo-Seob, and Moderator Riley T.
L-R ~ Choi Ji-Hoon, Lee Joo-Seob, and Moderator Riley T.

The interview was in Korean and their statements were translated by the moderator.  Below is a translated version with some of their interview questions with moderator Riley T.

Fun fact: Riley works as a fashion photographer in South Korea.  Follow her on social media @ril2chaphotos

Q.  What got them started in music?

Mr. Lee explained that previously he worked for JYP for ten years and that prepared him for his current role.

Mr. Choi explained that a little over eight years ago him and Simon D. came to L.A. and went to a Hip-hop concert.  He stated after that concert was when he started listening to the music.

Q. Why do you think K-pop has become a worldwide phenomenon?

Mr. Lee explained that he doesn’t believe its worldwide yet there’s still more that can be done.  But, he believes that it’s because of the trainee system that South Korea has instilled.  K-pop idols go through a rigorous process before they debut and are prepared for the hard work and media scrutiny.

Q. What advice would you give for an individual who wants to become a K-pop artist?

Mr. Choi stated that an artist should follow their passion and dreams.  Don’t be afraid to go for it and someone may notice their hard work.

Mr. Lee asked for an artist to be prepared for the trainee process.  It’s a lot more than looks, and clothes. It can take years as a trainee to practice your skills in singing, and dance without any recognition or fame.

Q. What are you looking for in a trainee?

Mr. Lee characterized artist that he would like to work with as confident, has a sense of self and has chemistry with the staff/company.

Mr. Choi said that he’s looking for people who are a good fit for the company, then they can join Amoeba.

The panelist polled the audience about why we loved K-pop music?  Attendees responded with the happy feeling they experience while listening to the music.  The moderator thanked the panelist for their time and the session concluded.

For more information visit Amoeba to find information on their artists such as Crush, Dynamic Duo and more.

I couldn’t make it to the next panel concerning “Young Professionals Career Advice: How To Work In Media” since it was late afternoon.  Convention tip: Food trucks and food street is a part of the KCON convention.  Bring smaller bills to make purchase your food and beverage options.

As I munched on my lunch I saw J.R.E., WhitneyBae, and DanakaDan heading into a waiting area.  Sorry, for any fans out there I didn’t ask for a selfie my lunch was really good.

I did capture a photo during JRE panel “Q & A with JRE” with Mark Lee as the moderator.

KCON L.A. Panel Session Experience, Downtown, Los Angeles, JRE Youtube

For any JREKML fans out there he did mention that he’s working on a lot of upcoming projects.  He stated that the projects will be the documentary style he did with Eric Nam and that he’s excited to share it with us soon.

Last, but certainly not least was the “Life In Korea” panel with Edward Avila, TrophyCat (Friday), and Joan Kim.  I was surprised to see that Abe (Joan’s brother) also joined the panel.

KCON L.A. Panel Session Experience, L-R ~ Edward Avila, Joan Kim, Trophy Cat
L-R ~ Edward Avila, Joan Kim, Trophy Cat, KCON, Los Angeles

Mostly, they spoke about what to expect with the weather, transportation, and monthly expenses in South Korea.  Overall, you could see the support and friendship they have for one another.

This year I had the opportunity to learn about behind the scenes of my favorite K-dramas, visit popular K-beauty brands and enjoy really good food.  To all the attendees who went to KCON this year, I hope that you enjoyed your experience as much as I did.  To anyone who didn’t or couldn’t attend this year, there’s always next year.

The price for a three-day convention center admittance cost $30 dollars.  Parking at the L.A. Convention Center cost $20 dollars, however, prices are subject to change depending on the event.  Tip: There’s street parking available if you don’t mind walking several blocks.

If you would like more information check out KCON website for “All Things Hallyu.”

Special Note: I should mention this is only coverage of Saturday’s panel sessions.  Because of prior time commitments, I couldn’t attend the entire KCON weekend.

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