While KCON LA, Japan and other countries have already wrapped up their activities for the year of 2023, this isn’t the last you will hear from KCON! KCON Saudi Arabia 2023 will be held at Boulevard Riyadh City on October 6th and 7th respectively and with events like KCONTACT and other global KCON events just around the corner, this guide can be the perfect thing to help you plan for your future KCON experience.
From such an outstanding lineup of K-Pop artists already luring us in, the endless amount of Korean-oriented activities are just the cherry on top of the KCON cake! Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention has been held annually in countries such as the United States, France, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and more since 2012. In 2023, KCON met fans in Japan, Thailand, and in the United States with KCON LA while most other countries participated virtually.
However, what are some differences fans have mentioned and spotted between various KCON events? Are some other events worth visiting than others? What are some must-do and must-see things when attending KCON? If you’re planning for the future of 2024, then it would be wise to save this list and plan out the best way to enjoy KCON with us!
1. Free Giveaways + How to spot them?
Before the amazing KCON concert even begins, lovers of all things Korean can explore various booths and enjoy events especially planned for fans at the convention. Getting a ticket to the convention is a separate price from the concert ticket but it is an absolute must-see for fans of Korea. The variety of activities adds to the experience of KCON as a whole.
Of course, if you’re looking to receive tickets to the KCON concert it is best to keep a watchful eye on either KCON’s main social media pages or follow the influencers attending the events. Usually, these are the direct methods of getting quality tickets that aren’t scams. Even though attending the concert is the best part of KCON, there are other wonderful things to get your hands on as well.
From make-up booths and Korean fashion to food stands, and photo booths that even provide information regarding travel trips and studying abroad in Korea, you can easily get distracted by all these things and miss some important giveaways. Aside from some independent retailers offering prizes and discounts of their own, many booths organized by CJ Ent and KCON offer venue-goers the chance to enter raffles, take quizzes, or complete challenges in order to win things such as signed albums, hi-touch tickets, and even tickets to the nightly concert itself!
The best way to spot these booths is to not only use your convention map and booklet but to also keep an eye out for the KCON lanyards official staff will be using or wearing. This can guarantee that it is a booth set-up specifically for K-Pop giveaways or oriented activities. Check social media to see which booths or events are also handing out awesome prizes as well.
2.Various Countries’ Lineups + Comparisons
Originally, KCON used to be a mere two-day event but has evolved into a three-day extravaganza. However, some countries have more satisfying lineups or activities that can’t compare to others. For example, this year’s KCON LA only had 20 acts for their lineup. However, KCON Japan featured a unique line up of 30 (including LE SSERAFIM) and also had major groups repeat days so that way fans can be certain they have a chance to see their favorite idols.
In the USA, COVID-19 was still a concern and many of the meet and greets happened between plexiglass and the greets were limited to a few selective groups. Also, most sets lasted about 10-15 minutes per group which meant most groups only performed two of their major songs before leaving the stage. Japan had longer concert times to accommodate the large acts on stage. In Japan, there was exclusive KCON merch and many giveaways were included among major brands who even offered gift cards of up to $1,000 dollars by MOVE from Qoo10.
In the USA, the widely sought after plane ticket to Korea was all the rage and a dream in the past but it seems lately the value of such prizes has simmered down to more common things. Olive Young provided various makeup giveaways, influencers shared K-Merch hauls, and VIKI paired up with NMIXX to provide not only front row tickets to the KCON concert but a chance to take pictures with NMIXX and win special signed merch from the girl group such as photos, albums and plushies!
While the convention caters to fans and provides many things to walk away with, compared to previous years, it seems USA had less offered up this time around as even KCON NY was suspended for a second year in a row. Perhaps due to COVID still being an uprising problem in the USA. Japan is also closer to Korea, so for obvious reasons, it is no surprise the lineup is gargantuas in comparison to other countries – after all there are less visa issues when traveling to Japan from Korea. If you’re curious, yes there is KCON in Korea and it supplies the same amount of value and entertainment as KCON Japan consists of.
3. What are Influencer Panels like at KCON?
KCON has been known for bridging fans with their favorite influencers through the various free panels held during the events. However, the best thing about these panels are the various ways you can interact with influencers and your fellow K-Pop fans! It may often go unnoticed, but there are many panels regarding mental health in K-Pop as well as LGBTQIA+ content panels.
It is a great way to find representation within K-Pop, the Korean community, and also meet like-minded people and open your perspective on these unique topics. Aside from this, many panels often hold giveaways or take pictures with lots of the fans after the entertaining Q+A and live chatting sessions. Take the time to attend at least one panel – you won’t regret it!
4. Is the KCON Membership Worth it?
Believe it or not, there is a KCON membership that many might be unfamiliar with. In the USA, the KCON basic membership currently sells for $19.99 and has the following premium benefits for members: YouTube private viewing: All Concert + M&G programming and replay stream availability post-livestream. A more expensive premium membership also offers a Red Carpet viewing, artists dance practices and stage rehearsals, close-up cams, plus live meet and greets and interactive artists conventions.
In regards to KCONTACT (an event specifically held during COVID-19), this membership is absolutely worth it since all performances were broadcasted through KCONS official YouTube to begin with. However, this membership program still remains useful for people who simply cannot travel to Japan or USA or live in parts of the globe that are still unfamiliar with KCON.
Nowadays, you can still gain access to the “Show Live,” a free option all streamed in HD (depending on your connection quality) with a controlled and somewhat restricted live stream, that lets you in on all the fun of the main stage at KCON. Other videos release a day after the first concert is filmed as well.
However, you won’t be able to see a majority of the show or interactive sessions with your favorite artists. In the end, the show live is a great way to still enjoy KCON but it is up to you to decide whether you need a little more from the premium membership or not. Despite the membership having no “end period” it is associated with YouTube so it is in accordance with YouTube’s membership policies. In conclusion, definitely check and make sure it isn’t a constant renewing membership – your wallet and your parents won’t be too happy!
5. Purchase Albums for Collections
AT KCON, it is the best time to collect exclusive merch coming straight from Korea. Depending on the store, some of the album’s sales will count as physical sales towards the chart, helping to boost your idols’ popularity even in Korea. Alongside this, it is a great opportunity to see old albums stretching as far back as the third generation of K-Pop with groups like Girls’ Generation, KARA, f(x), Super Junior, and Teen Top lining the shelves.
It is a great chance to get photo cards and even posters from a treasurable time when K-Pop was just beginning to boom across the globe. If you’re looking for nostalgic K-Pop memorabilia, KCON is a great place to hunt down some unexpected oldies but goodies!
So, which part of KCON are you excited to try at KCON? This guide will be the perfect opportunity to prepare for all the fun next year. While KCON has various differences across the globe, fans can always enjoy many cultural experiences and create precious memories around their love for K-Pop! It is definitely worth visiting a KCON convention near you if you have the chance.