K-pop culture fest KCON LA ends with blend of virtual & offline worlds
The mania for Korean culture seemed to be untouched by the Covid-19 hiatus, during which time the genre’s digital natives gathered virtually and KCON morphed into KCON:TACT.
The convention, held in person for the first time since 2019, was marked by the seamless flow between fandom’s online and offline iterations, reports ‘Variety’.
The organisers on Monday confirmed that the three-day event at the Los Angeles Convention Centre attracted more than 90,000 real world visitors, plus a further 7.17 million worldwide via video streaming.
“The Asian American community existed 12 years ago (when KCON started.) They were at home. Now they are everywhere. They didn’t have a community,” said Kevin Woo, a San Francisco-native singer and actor who was trained and achieved success within the Korean talent system. He is next heading to Broadway with ‘K-Pop: The Musical’ in mid-October.
According to ‘Variety’, many convention floor attractions featured video technology that allowed fans to pose virtually with stars or to insert themselves into scenes from Korean TV dramas — modern-day equivalents of the distorting mirrors and your face-goes-here cardboard cut-outs from fun fairs and circuses of old.
‘Variety’ further states that the college-age fans appeared to stretch across the US’s racial divides and to joyously embrace multiple aspects of South Korean soft power. These included booths operated by food and cosmetics companies.
A two-day Marketing Summit also gave KCON Los Angeles a more high-minded academic and commercial angle. The sidebar included insightful presentations from US university professors and how-to lectures from platforms such as TikTok intended to help U.S. businesses harness the K-wave for themselves.