KCON Tips for First-Timers

I’m freshly returned from Kcon NY (actually in Newark, NJ) and am still reeling from the excitement and euphoria of the past weekend.  From the convention and its vendors, booths, and special guests, to the concerts themselves in all their musical and fan interaction glory, my first Kcon was quite possibly the best two days of my life thus far.  As someone new to the experience, I found plenty to learn over the event’s duration that may seem obvious but could prove invaluable to those going to a Kcon for the first time in the future.  Kcon NY may not be coming around for another year, but Kcon LA is not too far off, and there are new convention locations being added this year, so you never know when this information may be useful.

Note: Kcon NY’s convention occurs outdoors, but some others (like Kcon LA) happen indoors, so some of these suggestions are convention-specific.  

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  • Buy your tickets the earliest you possibly can, because they get snatched up rapidly.  Plus, with the way the ticket purchasing site works (for Kcon NY at least), not all available tickets get shown to you, so you have to keep refreshing in the hopes of finding the ones you want.  If you have to, settle for a lower level ticket than you wanted (especially if you planned on buying P1, because those seem to run out the quickest), because you can always trade or purchase the fan engagements you wanted at the convention itself.
  • When the time comes to check-in to the convention, get there as early as possible (preferably a day before for early check-in).  If you don’t then you will find yourself waiting for hours in line when you could be enjoying the convention or meeting your favorite artists.
  • You do not need your concert tickets for check-in, just your printed convention registration, so don’t worry if you see other people in the early check-in line carrying theirs.  You only need your concert tickets to get into the concerts themselves.
  • The moment you finish checking in, you will find yourself surrounded by people wielding signs, whiteboards, and posters, desperately looking for one artist’s interaction or another (interactions with artists are assigned at random in varying amounts based on ticket level (see the Kcon website for specifics on tickets types.).  If–after you nerve-rackingly scratch off your artist interaction cards–you find yourself without a hi-touch with your ideal group, then no worries!  This is a great place to trade out any Hi-touch passes you don’t want for ones with your favorite groups, or simply to buy or sell them for cash.  If you get that out of the way here, then you won’t have to worry about it during the convention itself.  I was lucky enough to get both the ones I was looked for (Twice and GFriend) in my original card set, but was also able to sell two of the ones I did not want to go to waste.Image result for pyeongchang kcon ny

Convention/Artist Events

  • LINES!  You will learn to know lines, to love them, and to become one with them.  Whether for Hi-touch, the red carpet, the concert, raffles, food, vendors, or panels, you will find yourself standing in a queue for a very long time.  If you want to experience an artist interaction towards the front of the crowd, you’d better get in line for it several hours.  If you want to eat dinner, you’d better get in line by lunchtime.  I was lucky enough to have platinum tickets, meaning the lines were much shorter for artist events and got let in first, but even those would punish you for not getting in them very early.
  • Knowing about the massive lines, I cannot stress this next point enough.  Either come with someone else or make friends with some kind strangers in lines.  Having someone to hold your spot in line (especially the concert line) is crucial if you want to go to any events other than waiting, because by the time you exit a group’s hi-touch you may find the number of people in front of you for the concert has tripled.  People at Kcon are overall lovely people, so don’t hesitate to talk to them or ask them to save you a spot.
  • Make sure to bring cash with you, even if you only want to buy food, because many food and merchandise vendors do not take credit/debit cards.  If you do want merchandise, be prepared with significant funds, because the overwhelming number of Kpop items–from albums to shirts to pins to lightsticks–may well drain your wallet before you even realize where your money has gone.
  • Bring sunscreen or put it on beforehand, especially if you are someone like me who will get sunburnt essentially the moment he steps outside.  Remember those lines I talked about?  Well, those are all outside, in the blazing sun.  If you don’t wear sunblock, you’re going to be in trouble, trust me.
  • For hi-touch, be aware that you do not have a long time with the artists.  Essentially you have three seconds to high-five them, say whatever you want, and get out of the way for the next person.
  • Make sure to visit all the sponsor booths, because there are mountains of freebies to be had, along with raffles to enter.
  • Look through all the vendors before buying items like albums.  A number of merchants will sell the exact same albums, but at rather different prices, so be sure to check on all the locations before making your purchases.

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Note: I was in a “general admission” (standing) area for the concerts so some of these items may not apply to specific-seat style tickets.

  • This tip applies to the concert(s) as well as the red carpet.  Unless you managed to snag some diamond level tickets, you will likely not get the exact spot you were hoping for in the red carpet or concert (if you have general admissions “seating”).  Luckily, the fans at Kcon are there to support different group, so more than likely you can find someone in front of you who will gladly switch spots with you when your favorite group comes out so you can see them better (and have a higher chance of being waved at or sent finger hearts by them).  Don’t hesitate to ask those around you if they would be willing to swap places, especially if you notice they have a banner or lightstick for a specific group besides the one you are looking for.
  • Remember to actually watch the concert!  One can very easily get caught up in recording the concert for future memory, but should not forget that what you are filming is actually going on right in front of you.
  • When your favorite group comes around, don’t hesitate to scream, wave your arms, and generally to whatever you can to get their attention.  You never know when you might get noticed, especially during the closing section where all the groups come back out ( I almost died when Mina and my ultimate bias Tzuyu waved and made the trademark Kpop finger hearts to me).

Well, that’s all I have for now.  Kcon is an absolutely amazing place that I wholeheartedly recommend you attend.  I wasn’t sure I would ever get to see a Kpop concert, let alone high-five all nine members of my favorite group, so Kcon gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.  It’s well worth the price of admission, and I hope to see lots of members of KNation at next year’s events!

(Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.  I’d love to answer them!)