KCON (music festival)
Artists on stage at KCON 2012
|Frequency||Yearly Per City|
Newark, New Jersey
Jeju, South Korea
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mexico City, Mexico
|Organized by||CJ E&M
KCON is an annual Korean wave convention held in different locations across the world, created by Koreaboo in 2012 and organized by CJ E&M. It was first held in Southern California as KCON USA and has since expanded into eight different countries as of 2018.
In 2015, KCON expanded to Japan and then quickly announced the first KCON USA in the East Coast. In 2016, KCON expanded into Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 25, 2016 and Paris, France on June 2, 2016 for first time. In January 2017, KCON announced that they will be hosting their first KCON Mexico at the Mexico City Arena on March 17 and 18, 2017. On January 2017, KCON announced the first KCON Australia, creating their 7th expansion country since KCON launched in 2012. On March 2018, KCON announced that KCON USA would be held in Newark, New Jersey at the Prudential Center on June 23 – 24 and in Los Angeles at the STAPLES Center and LA Convention Center on August 10 – 12.
- 1 Background and goals
- 2 History
- 2.1 2012
- 2.2 2013
- 2.3 2014
- 2.4 2015
- 2.5 2016
- 2.6 2017
- 2.7 2018
- 3 Reception
- 4 Locations and dates
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Background and goals
KCON was first created by Koreaboo in 2012, after a partnership with CJ E&M's US-based subsidiary, Mnet America. It was produced by Powerhouse Live, who continued to work on KCON in 2013 and 2017. KCON's initial aim was to establish an annual flagship event that would improve the experiences of American fans by providing them with an affordable way to connect with each other, as well as with artists and professionals from the K-pop music industry. During KCON ‘12, Mnet Media's Ted Kim was interviewed by journalist Michael Holmes from CNN to discuss about the rise of K-Pop in the United States.
On June 21, 2016, Euny Hong reported in the Wall Street Journal that the North American KCONs, although very popular, were only a break-even financially. CJ E&M's American CEO Angela Killoren said they are more interested in a long term goal of raising Korea's brand value than short-term gain. Also, in a June press conference, Shin Hyung-kwan, president of CJ E&M's Mnet contents business, said, "KCON, which has been held in Abu Dhabi in March, Japan in April, and Paris early this month, is not just about making money. Numbers are important but what matters more is the potentials created by the event for the next five, 10 and 20 years." Shin added that the company goals were increasing the growth of products and services to the global market by expanding partnerships with Korean small and medium enterprises.
KCON ‘12 was held on October 13 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, California. Music artists invited to perform include 4Minute, B.A.P, Exo-M, Nu'est, VIXX, and G.NA. Jeff Yang of The Wall Street Journal reported that KCON ‘12 attracted over 20,000 people.
KCON ‘13 was held from August 24 to 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The lineup included K-Pop artists Exo (K & M), 2AM, Teen Top, f(x), G-Dragon, Crayon Pop, Dynamic Duo, Yu Seung Woo and DJ Koo. It also included rapper Missy Elliott, who is featured on one of G-Dragon's singles. Super Junior-M's Henry Lau performed and spoke at a panel. 
KCON '14 was held on August 9–10, returning for a second year to Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The artist lineup included B1A4, BTS, CNBLUE, G-Dragon, Girls' Generation, IU, Jung Joon-young, Spica, Teen Top, and VIXX. Featured guests included Lee Seung-gi, Lee Seo-jin, Yoo In-na, Nam Gyu-ri, Kim Ji-seok; and Eric Nam, who hosted red carpet interviews, filmed by Viki.DramaFever documented the red carpet, explaining the missing Girls' Generation 9th member, Sooyoung, who was filming a drama.NBC News interviewed Billboard K-Town columnist Jeff Benjamin, journalist-author Euny Hong, and Girls' Generation's Seohyun and Tiffany to answer "what is K-pop"." In response to Fusion TV, KCON co-project manager, Angela Killoren said, "there's still this sense that, I'm the fan, and I'm the only fan, or I'm one of very few, and these are my artists, you have this incredible sense of – you discovered them, and you own them."
The two nightly concerts were shown on the weekly K-pop cable television show, M! Countdown, "2 Nights in LA" broadcast on Mnet America in the U.S., and in multiple countries. Danny Im of Mnet America's show, "Danny From LA", hosted the concerts, along with "DFLA" co-host Dumbfoundead, Jung Joon-young, Tiffany, and opener Lee Seung-gi."DFLA", in its third season, filmed a live taping of the show, at the convention.
For this year's event, Mnet America started a new web-series, "KCON EXPERIENCE 2014", with multiple episodes, including footage of the stars' arrival at the airport in Los Angeles, backstage activities, and the weekend's panels, fan meetings, food stands. The convention included an outdoor marketplace, food truck alley, a mini 4DX theatre, and open stage area; with panels and workshops about music, k-dramas, e-sports, choreography styles, makeup, hair trends; and as billed, "all things Hallyu". Korean gaming channel OnGameNet (OGN) also organized a "League of Legends Champion Festival", an event involving Korean team CJ Entus Frost and American team Cloud 9.
The convention doubled attendance from the previous year, with 42,000 attending. Of those 42,000, nearly 40 percent come from outside California, most were female, and less than 10 percent were Korean.
Saitama, Japan – April 22
KCON '15 expanded outside the United States for the first time and was held in Japan at the Saitama Super Arena. M.I.B's Korean-Japanese vocalist KangNam was the events ambassador. The convention/outdoor stage featured Korean artists CODE-V, High4, Shu-I, Tahiti, and 5tion. Performances on the main stage included Got7, Super Junior, Kangnam, My Name, Lovelyz, Block B, Sistar, Infinite, B1A4, 2PM's Jun. K, and Supernova.
Freelance journalist Patrick St. Michel, who has lived in Japan for years, covered the Saitama event for MTV Iggy, complimenting the eagerness of the enthusiastic fans (15,000 at the concert), and KCON 15's successful soft sell of K-pop as a means to help smooth over a long and complicated relationship between Japan and South Korea.
Los Angeles – July 31 – August 2
On April 17, 2015, KCON said the California convention would expand to a three-day event, and would move from the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena to L.A. Live and the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles.
The convention was preceded with U.S. news reports about the drama and film stars to attend, People interviewed "Korean heartthrob" Kim Soo-hyun, and The Hollywood Reporter accounted for Kim (My Love from the Star), Korean American Ki Hong Lee (The Maze Runner, one of People's "Sexiest Men Alive"), U.S. born Daniel Henney (his latest Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders) and Son Ho-jun (Reply 1994); as well as drama sessions to be headlined by writer Park Ji-eun (producer, My Love From Another Star) and director Jin Hyuk (Master's Sun, Doctor Stranger). Actor Son Ho-jun and director Go Min-gum of tvN's "Mr. Baek the Homemade Food Master" appeared at DramaFever's co-sponsored screening room of trending K-dramas.
English language South Korean media Yonhap called the musical line-up "some of the hottest K-pop artists." It included AOA, Block B, Crush, Got7, Monsta X, Red Velvet, Roy Kim, Shinhwa, Sistar, Super Junior and Zion.T. Getty Images captured photos of Kim Soo-hyun, Eric Nam, and many of the musical performers, individually identifying each name in girl groups AOA, Red Velvet and Sistar.
Billboard noted new group Monsta X after their performance, as a "hot item on the KCON lineup", referring to a similar audience response to KCON '14's newest group, BTS, a group that continued to do a sold-out tour in the U.S. a year later. Billboard gave detailed positive reviews for both night's concerts, and interviewed Red Velvet and Got7.
The Los Angeles Times reviewed Sunday's stage, "the year's most significant concert for one of the world's most fascinating music and cultural scenes." "Mega-group" Super Junior's fan base, the "ELFs", were noticed by media, wearing their blue devil horns, with one 23-year-old describing that when she was sad, just looking at Super Junior made her really happy. Fusion TV named seven of their "favorite KCON fashion statements" of the performing bands.
Another South Korean English-language newspaper, The Korea Times, headlined, "K-pop proves itself a gateway to South Korea at KCON", and interviewed two "older" fans, aged 28 and 31, whose developing interest in K-pop and K-dramas led them to further interests in other Korean culture (technology, skin products, food and fashion). As in previous years, the convention attempted to satisfy attendees, with one South Korea language based institute helping fans write messages of love and support to their favorite stars in Korean. KCON organizer Killoren reiterated that the convention was not just music, but more, "a convention, a concert, content, a conversation."
South Korea government's web portal Korea.net article stated 120 small and medium-sized enterprises set up booths, and included photos taken by Small and Medium Business Administration staff. They said, "Angelenos have shown their strong enthusiasm for all things Korean."
New York – August 8
KCON '15 made plans to expand to New York City, outside of Southern California in the US for the first time, with an April 24 announcement they would become bi-coastal, not exactly in N.Y.C., but at the Prudential Center in New York's metropolitan area, in Newark, New Jersey, a week after the L.A. date.
A day before opening, Vogue discussed fashion and favorite designers with AOA and VIXX, the later kept busy with a first time "showcase" in Orlando, Florida. Vogue told East Coast K-pop fans to "rejoice...KCon, America's premier (read: only) Korean pop culture convention comes to New York for the first time this weekend, bringing four of the country's top acts stateside", and "Keep your eyes and ears out for snappy songs and slick dance moves, but above all, for the colorful fashion trends." After focusing on the idol's fashion wear in L.A., Fusion TV shared the East Coast's fan's homemade and designer fashions.
Killoren told Fusion TV that fans are eager to learn as much as possible about their idols, so the convention tries to provide this, through Q&A sessions with artists by emcees, and "hi-touches" or high fives between fans and band members.
The Korean Cultural Service New York (KCSNY) combined their fifth annual global K-pop singing and dancing competition (with auditions held worldwide) with KCON, for a pre-show concert of six finalists. N.Y.'s Washington Heights group, The Class, won with a performance of VIXX's "Hyde", and will travel to South Korea to represent the U.S. at the K-Pop World Festival.
Billboard's review compared the concert and convention to the inaugural KCON '12 in Irvine, California, pointing to this year's fewer musical acts, but a similar convention set-up, and gave indication of it becoming an "East Coast staple."
The New York Times said, "The tears began as soon as Teen Top waved hello", and interviewed passionate fans, some who lined up for the concert at 2:00 a.m., and attended both the West and East Coast shows. They described fans who wear facial cleanser used by actress Song Ji-hyo of variety show Running Man; and according to DramaFever, watch over 53.9 hours per month streaming videos, compared with about 10.7 hours for Netflix users, are 85 percent non-Asian, and mostly women ages 18 to 24.
Fuse TV said the convention attendees were represented by all racial demographics, "women didn't outnumber men the way you'd normally see at a pop music convention", and "teens were out in full force, but not the majority."
Jeju, South Korea – November 6–7
In November, KCON held its first 2-day domestic convention and concerts on the South Korean island of Jeju. Daily solo performances were held at the convention hall stage, and a main stadium concert on the second night, with a line-up including Shinhwa, Roy Kim, Block B, SG Wannabe, SPICA, M.I.B's Kangnam, Poten, Park Boram (soloist from Superstar K2), Oh My Girl, Shin Seung-hun, Teen Top, Day6, Paloalto, Mamamoo, Sonamoo and Chen Zi Tong.
The Jeju Tourism Organization and CJ E&M said the event was scheduled in hopes of revitalizing the local economy by drawing more tourists to the island.
2015 total attendance
By the end of August, KCON '15's total attendance for the U.S. and Japan was 90,000; L.A.'s three days had 58,000 attendance and the two concerts in Staples Center with a sold-out crowd of 28,000 fans and Gross Sales $2,055,800, Newark's total was 17,000, and Saitama had 15,000.
In November, the yearly attendance totals grew to 107,000, with the addition of the Jeju dates, which approximately 17,000 attended.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – March 25
KCON '16 announced its first event will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 25. The list of K-pop stars to attend included BTS, Taeyeon from Girls' Generation, Kyuhyun from Super Junior, Monsta X, SS301, Ailee and SPICA
Chiba, Japan – April 9–10
Paris, France – June 2
KCON '16 announced advance into Europe with an event for the first time in Paris, France. The tickets concert were sold out in minutes. Former president Park Geun-hye was also present during the concert in honor of the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relation between France and South Korea. The list of K-pop stars attending includes f(x), FTISLAND, SHINee, Block B, I.O.I, BTS and Leeteuk of Super Junior as Special MC.
Newark, New Jersey – June 24–25
Kcon 2016 NY was held on June 24–25 (Friday-Saturday), at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The nine official artists included: BTS, Eric Nam, Mamamoo, Seventeen, Ailee, BTOB, Day6, Crush, and Dynamic Duo.
Los Angeles – July 29–31
KCON '16 was announced for July 29–31, for its fifth anniversary in California, and its fourth in Los Angeles, returning for a second year to the Staples Center. The twelve official artists included SHINee, I.O.I., G Friend, Twice, Astro, Girls' Generation – TTS, Dean; and returning artists BTS, Block B, and MonstaX. Last minute replacements for CN Blue were Amber and Eric Nam. Special guests and performances by Davichi and Turbo.
Mexico City, Mexico – March 17–18
KCON '17 was announced to be held for the first time in a Latin American country. The event was held on March 17–18 at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico. The eight official artists revealed included: Monsta X, Astro, BTS, Eric Nam, EXID, Infinite H, Red Velvet, and NCT 127.
Japan – May 19–21
KCON '17 was announced to be held on May 19–21 (Friday-Sunday), at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan. KCON Japan announced the concerts would be held on three days, expanding from the two days of the 2016 festival. The official artists to be performing include Highlight, Apink, Heize, Pristin, Astro, BTOB, SF9, Pentagon, Junho, Block B, K.Will, Monsta X, Apeace, Day6, CLC, Got7, GFriend, Seventeen, Boys24 Unit Black, A-Jax, Boys Republic, INX, NAUGHTYBOYS, Noh Ji Hoon, Pungdeng-E, STELLAR, TopSecret, TRITOPS, UNIONE, CHANMINA, Hanhae, H.U.B. and Idiotape.
New Jersey – June 23–24
KCON '17 was announced to be held on June 23–24 (Friday-Saturday), at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The official artists to be performing include Twice, CNBLUE, GFriend, Highlight, KNK, UP10TION, SF9, Zion-T, and NCT-127.
Los Angeles – August 18–20
KCON '17 was announced to be held on August 18–20 (Friday-Sunday), for the sixth time, at the LA Convention Center in Los Angeles, California.
Australia – September 22–23
KCON '17 will be heading to Australia for the first time with a date set for September 22–23 (Friday-Saturday). The event will be held at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The first wave of artists was announced on the August 7th, adding Cosmic Girls, SF9 and Monsta X to the lineup. On August 8th and 9th, six more artists were announced, Girl's Day, Pentagon, Victon, UP10TION, Wanna One, and Exo.
Japan – April 13–15
KCON '18 was announced to be held on April 13–15 (Friday-Sunday), at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan. All three days will have concerts. The first line-up announcement included MOMOLAND and Samuel for Apr. 13, SEVENTEEN and Stray Kids for Apr. 14, and MONSTA X and SF9 on Apr. 15. The second line-up announcement included PENTAGON and Wanna One for Apr. 13, fromis_9, Gfriend and 2PM's Wooyoung for Apr. 14 and Golden Child, Sunmi and Twice for Apr. 15. It is expected that more artists will be announced in the coming weeks.
Newark, New Jersey – June 23–24
On March 2018, KCON announced that KCON USA would be held in Newark, New Jersey at the Prudential Center on June 23 – 24. Two days will have concerts. The full lineup for both nights of concerts have been announced. The lineup for Saturday, June 23 includes Heize, Pentagon, Red Velvet, Stray Kids, and Super Junior. The lineup for Sunday, June 24 includes EXID, fromis_9, Golden Child, NCT 127, and Wanna One.
Los Angeles, California – August 10–12
KCON also announced on the same day as KCON USA in New Jersey, that another KCON would be held in California. The lineup includes Momoland, Fromis_9, Wanna One, Seventeen, Crush, Dynamic Duo, and Chung Ha. More artists are to be announced leading up to the event. 
Jeff Benjamin, Billboard K-Town columnist, wrote that the convention has "hit every note to provide a new look at a world of music still gaining ground in the U.S", and with thousands of people from all over North America attending KCON ‘12, the convention has "truly proved its ability to pass language barriers and kick-start what may be an annual music tradition." The Orange County Register described KCON ‘12 as "A daylong K-Pop invasion at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater".
In 2014, New York City's Fuse TV said, "In just three years, KCON has become an annual pilgrimage for K-pop fans in America. NBC News said, "Thousands of screaming fans and the stars they adore gathered in Los Angeles for KCON, a celebration of Korean pop music and culture". Miami's Fusion TV called KCON '14 "the mother ship of all Korean culture events in this country", and observed, "k-pop fans might be the most devoted in the entire world." Melissa Block of NPR's All Things Considered said of KCON '14, "K-pop is here to stay."
In 2015, Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone wrote: "KCON has become so popular in the U.S. that even the Los Angeles fest is expanding to a larger venue...as attendance has ballooned since the inaugural KCON LA in 2012", and "will go bi-coastal...and head to Newark", adding, "KCON also hosted their first ever Japan convention." August Brown of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "In its early years, many wondered whether a South Korean act (other than Psy) could impact mainstream top-40 pop. But after watching the Sunday night installment of KCON 2015, it's clear that's the wrong question. K-pop's young and wide-ranging audience is the new mainstream in America."
Locations and dates
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G-Dragon, along with seven other groups, performed at this August's second annual K-Con in Los Angeles, which provided 20,000 fans from across North America and abroad a chance to soak in a culture that,
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