New Developments: KCON New York 2019

By Justine Shaffer

KCON NY celebrated it’s five year anniversary in NYC on July 5-7th, yet again bringing a stellar line-up to the big apple with acts such as SEVENTEEN, ATEEZ, (G)I-DLE, Fromis_9, and many more. This year was also the first time since it’s creation that the convention and concert has undergone some major changes, both in location and in experience.

Beginning with the most obvious difference, the change in location. For the first time in five years KCON NY actually took place in New York, rather than Prudential Center in New Jersey (close enough to be considered New York). KCON NY 2019’s convention took place at the Jacob Javits Center on the far west side of Manhattan, the largest convention center in New York City spanning seven acres total. The concert was held at NYC’s most iconic concert venue, Madison Square Garden, which seats an audience of 20,700. The likes of Justin Bieber, One Direction, SMTOWN New York 2013, and many more famous and respected musicians have played this arena. Evidently, spirits were high this year at KCON NY 2019.

The prices for KCON’s convention this year rose from $20 to $30 but all other factors such as opening times, check-in times, and Klub KCON remained the same. The convention spanned several different sections of the Javits Center each dedicated to different programming. The first section being the Expo Floor, where all the booths, food, and mini stages were located. Classic elements of KCON remained the same such as the KCON Stage and the Dance Workshop stage, the KCON Stage was utilized to announce KCON’s “Cover Star-K” winners, KCON’s own dance competition which had entries from seventy-six countries across the globe. This year, the grand prize winner was Haru, a K-pop dance team based in Rutgers University in New Jersey, and boy group ATEEZ went up on stage with them as they accepted their prize for their cover of ATEEZ’s “Say My Name”. If you just can’t get enough of K-pop dance, the dance workshop offered live tutorials from artists participating in KCON this year, such as IZ*ONE’s “La Vien Rose” and SEVENTEEN’s “Home.” 

KCON is well-known for providing unique ways to interact with your idols, this year featuring a special new addition known as the KCON Studio, a box studio in the middle of the Expo Floor with glass panels on three sides, allowing spectators from outside to be part of a live studio audience. Artists such as (G)I-DLE went in to do interviews, play games and give mini performances; and influencers such as Edward Avilia were featured as well.

The food scene this year was a bit of a change from the parking lot food trucks in previous years. The Expo Floor featured a “K-Food Fair,” an entire section of the convention dedicated to Korean food both traditional and modern. The food fair offered everything from Korean snacks to freshly made bibimbap for patrons to try; and as per KCON tradition, there were many interactive booths from sponsors of the event and an area dedicated to K-Beauty. The usual K-pop merch stands were also back, mostly selling official albums and posters. Koryo Bookstore, a popular store in Koreatown to buy K-pop albums and merch, had their own booth and FYE showcased their own merch booth this year as well.

The second section of the convention was dedicated to panels, fanclub meetings, and more workshops. There were three different rooms all dedicated to panels so multiple panels could run at once. Some panels pertained to topics in Hallyu media such as “Women In Hallyu Media” or “Idol Connection,” while other panels were more lighthearted, such as “The Roast of JRE” or meet and greets with Kevin Woo and popular YouTubers ReacttotheK. Fanclubs made a return for the second year in a row, organized by fans for fans. For instance, SEVENTEEN’s fanclub was organized by the popular USA SEVENTEEN fanpage SVT Carats USA.. There were also two rooms for interactive workshops where attendees could participate in numerous activities such as badge-making and painting. 

Finally, a closed off hall near the food court was reserved for hi touch and artist engagement, a constant at KCON NY since its creation in 2014.

This was the first year since it’s creation that KCON NY hosted two separate venues for the convention and the concert in the evening. Although seemingly inconvenient, the two locations were less than a ten minute walking distance of each other, and both venues were located very close to Koreatown and major NYC tourist spots, such as the Empire State Building and The Vessel.

Koreatown was definitely feeling the KCON spirit that weekend; there were promotional posters on the sides of popular restaurants, and local bubble tea hotspot Kung Fu Tea teamed up with KCON to provide a booth at the convention. KCON attendees could easily have the perfect ending to a long day by having a Korean BBQ or tofu stew dinner a few blocks from MSG.

“I really didn’t mind the walk [from Javits Center to MSG], and since we were indoors I didn’t get the annual KCON sunburn,” says eighteen-year-old Micala, who attended this year for SEVENTEEN and Fromis_9. “I really liked the convention center, it felt very official. I also loved that they had more than one album merch table, so not everyone was crowded around one table trying to buy albums,” Micala says.

The end of an exciting weekend was wrapped up seamlessly with a highly-anticipated performance from SEVENTEEN, which garnered surely one of the loudest crowds in recent years. And to top it all off, Monday featured SEVENTEEN doing their first ever interview with BUILD Studios and Fromis_9 were seen in Washington Square Park dancing with their flovers.

For the past five years KCON USA has been bringing Korean culture and entertainment to both coasts of America, and for some fans KCON is the only way for them to experience their favorite aspects of Korea without traveling to the other side of the world. We would love to know from our readers what is your favorite part of KCON, or if you haven’t yet been to KCON, what would you like to see there? Let’s KCON!

Cover Image: SEVENTEEN (Pledis Entertainment)
Written by Justine Shaffer

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