Waiting for Henry to Get Breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts Because We Ate in the “Hotel” Without Him selfie.
I’ve been putting off writing this post because I’ve got some beefaroni with KCON. It was still a good time, don’t get me wrong, but I think that we were spoiled last year so when they changed things up this year, it felt like having the rug pulled out from under our feet.
But first, here is a quick explanation of what KCON is in case you don’t know and are like, “OK but what is KCON.” This is what I do sometimes when I’m trying to redeem myself as a “blogger” – be informative like Wikipedia but with less fact-checking and more typos.
So, KCON is a big Korean-centric convention focusing on K-culture, K-beauty, K-beauty, and most importantly KPOP. Let’s be real, we go for the kpop. There are two KCONs in the US every summer: one in “New York” which is actually Newark but they have to pretend like it’s New York in order to get the big names to agree to come here. The other is later on in the summer in LA and that one is way better than the NY one but Henry is like, “LOL no” every time I suggest we should book a flight.
For NY, it’s a two-day ordeal at the Prudential Center in Newark. During the day, the convention fills up two parking lots and there are Korean food vendors, K-beauty stalls, kpop merch, booths giving away snacks, and tents set up for various panels to take place. At night, there is a big concert inside the Prudential Center, sponsored by MNET Music Countdown, which is an actual countdown show filmed weekly in Korea. Tickets for the concert are exorbitant, and it gets more and more expensive if you want to tack on additional perks, like getting to attend the red Carprt event, getting to participate in a Hi-Touch (more on that in a bit), and obviously getting to stand on the floor by the stage. We’re talking over a grand for this shit, though.
I took this picture when Henry was inside a bank using an ATM. It’s my favorite mirror ever. NO I DON’T HAVE BODY IMAGE ISSUES, YOU DO.
The convention is an additional $20 for both days and last year we walked away with so much swag and prizes that it was more than worth it for us. I know this is going to make me sound like a greedy little entitled bitch, BUT WE BARELY GOT ANYTHING THIS TIME. (We all did get a KCON totebag though.) Also, last year, anyone who registered for the convention portion of the weekend got several scratch offs for an opportunity at a Hi-Touch or to be in the audience for a Fan Engagement. What these things are additional perks that are guaranteed for those who pay for the platinum or gold tickets, but the rest of us plebes at least got a chance.
I ended up getting to go inside and stand in the audience for Up10tion’s fan engagement last year, and it was really cute because they played charades and answered some fan questions, etc. And then the Drama Fever tent was offering more changes if you posted pictures on Instagram using their hashtag and then spinning a wheel. By doing that, I won a HI-TOUCH for KNK!
Speaking of, here’s A BIG LOW: NO DRAMAFEVER BOOTH THIS YEAR?!
You can read about my experience with that here, but the gist is that a Kpop group will stand on a stage behind a table and then the hi-touch winners get to file past them, gently brushing their hands with your own hand. It sounds so ridiculous and I was like “hur hur, this is going to be so lame I can’t believe I’m doing this as a woman in her late 30s” but then it was my turn and I walked out of that room totally shook, and kept stuttering, “They were so beautiful” over and over for the rest of the weekend.
Well friends, KCON realized that they could make more money off of these events so now, in addition to the super-inflated ticket packages, they offered additional fan engagement packagaes, starting at $45. Some of them only came with A CHANCE of winning whatever, but the one thing they all had in common is that you couldn’t choose which group you wanted. So you potentially could be spending so much more money only to wind up with a fan engagement for a group you don’t even care about.
This is why people walk around the convention all day holding up signs for fan engagement trades.
So right there, that was one pretty big low for us. Not having that frantic, hand-quivering scratch-off moment was sad because it was such a fun part of KCON Last year. We paid $20 for a convention and they didn’t even give us, like, a sticker. Or a button. A peppermint would have been nice, too.
A highlight was that now they had the area around the Prudential Center more blocked off with security set up at every entrance so that we only had to have bags searched once instead of every single time we wanted to visit a different part of the convention (there are two big parking lots with only one way in, so you have to get your wristband scanned each time you enter). Last year, it was a big hassle, especially after we started to accumulate more stuff. So that was nice to be able to get in to the different sections with more ease.
The first thing we did was some clusterfuck of a photo zone, where you had to go to all four areas, take your picture, post them all on social media, and then go to some table and show the guy that you did it. Then he let you draw a ball out of a bucket for a chance at fan engagements.
IT TOOK FOREVER TO DO THIS BECAUSE EACH ONE HAD A LINE.
Also my hair looks like shit because the hairdryer in our “hotel” was broken so air-dried hair for me.
Anyway, we did not win. I was pretty irritated about this.
More lows: All the good stuff was crammed under a big tent in one of the lots. The Lotte booth, the McDonald’s booth, the Bibigo booth which was handing out amazing samples last year, the Melona booth, various kpop merch booths…all of these things were under the tent and the lines were outrageous and intermingled so you never knew what line you were in and you couldn’t move and it was enough to send even the most extroverted person into shut-in mode. Literally, I felt like so many people were breathing on me and I couldn’t handle it, especially when I was standing in line to spin the wheel at the Melona booth and some girl asked me which line was to purchase the Melona bars and the big mouth white girl behind me took it upon herself to bellow the answer into the back of my head and I was pretty much done at that point.
SIDE BAR: Other than that one girl though, everyone else was fine. It’s really nice getting to be surrounded by tons of people who share a love for all things Korea when you typically get mocked for it on a daily basis! And my general observation for the past two years is that people here aren’t jerks. You don’t get pushed or shoved or glared at. Everyone is polite and friendly and wanting to make friends with other stans of their favorite groups. So I would say “the attendees” is another high.
Last year, everything was more spread out. But that particular lot was mayhem because it also had the KCON stage (a small stage set up for artist interviews, dance performances, etc. throughout the day) so there was always a decent crowd for that and it bled right into the MASSIVE line for official KCON merch because they ONLY HAD ONE BOOTH. You guys, I stood in that line for AN HOUR later on in the day, because I kept thinking that the later I waited, the shorter the line would be, but NO it was ALWAYS THAT LONG.
We never even got any Bibigo samples because everything inside that fucking tent was such a cluster.
We did take some pictures at whatever this thing was, which was cool because I love Pentagon and Chooch loves GOT7.
Chooch won these light-up glasses from some State Farm lady while I was in line for a free makeup sample.
So many lines.
Melona bars are so good! Chooch spun the wheel and won a Melona toothbrush which is a toothbrush in a case that looks just like a melon Melona bar and I was so mad because he was all, “I hope we don’t win the toothbrush” but I WANTED to win the toothbrush, so when he won it I was like, “Yay, gimme!” but he all of a sudden changed his tune and decided this was a grand prize and then suggested THAT WE SHARE IT!?
Um ew, you can have it.
Right after this, Chooch and I were standing in line to enter a contest for Asiana Airlines and Chooch’s preteen ‘tude began to rub me the wrong way and then Henry meandered over and exacerbated the situation and I can’t even remember what the impetus was at this point but I exploded and we all had a Big Fight and then Henry was like I AM LEAVING AND NOT JUST TO GO BACK TO THE HOTEL* I AM GOING BACK TO PITTSBURGH.
Somehow, this made Chooch and I resolve our blood feud with one knowing glance, and by doing so, we teamed up against Henry who suddenly became THE ENEMY. So while Henry stormed off to one of the exits, thinking Chooch and I were following him like we’re his puppies or something, we hung back and sat down on a wall, trying to figure out what to do.
Meanwhile, Henry texted me using regular text and not Kakao which was his way of illustrating the level of anger he was at because KAKAO IS JUST FOR FRIENDS.
“The Lyft will be here in 5 mon” his first text said.
And then: “min.”
LOL, what a loser.
“Let’s just stay,” Chooch said. “I want to go to the concert tonight. We can’t leave!” and then he flipped through the Convention program and said, “Here, let’s find something that you want to do” and that’s how we became Best Friends again and found ourselves under one of the tents in the lesser-populated areas, listening to three of my favorite YouTubers talk about meeting Kpop idols. And this was hilarious to me because I was never one who “had favorite YouTubers” until I became obsessed with Korea and now here I was, getting all emotional at seeing Jre, WhitneyBaeIRL, and HeyIt’sFei sitting at a table and talking to us.
Even Chooch was like *pulls out phone and records*.
Then we wrote on this big chalkboard wall because why wouldn’t we.
CAN YOU TELL WHICH ONE IS MINE.
About an hour went by and Chooch and I were starting to get The Hunger so I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue to stand creepily near WhitneyBaeIRL while debating asking for a picture, or if I wanted to go back to the ATM near the flattering mirrored poles because food was cash only and Henry Warbucks took it all with me.
Just then, Chooch exclaimed, “Haha, look!” and pointed across the parking lot where HENRY was sadly lumbering around alone, camerabag around his body in the ultimate dad-fashion. OMG he looked like such a perv, like he was there solely to satisfy his Korean kink (OMG Chooch used this word the other day and I was like, “WTF CHOOCH” and he said, “What, would you rather I say festish?” Whhhyyyyyyyy), and we had to lean against a fence because we were laughing so fucking hard.
“He just walked by Terry TV!” I screamed, choking on laughter, at the sight of Henry walking past a big YouTuber and being blissfully unaware about it. Then Henry spotted us and meandered on over and we were like, “WOW SHOULDN’T THAT LYFT HAVE BEEN HERE 60 MON AGO?”
Henry tried to act like he only came back because we “needed” him even though neither of us called or texted him to come back, so.
Then we ate BiBimBoppers (fried balls with bibimbap inside, super good but we only got two for $6!!) and tteokbokki and I don’t know what Henry had, something on a stick. They were actually both still in their own respective lines (we split up accordingly to maximize efforts) when Super Junior took the KCON stage so I had to run over to that crazy lot alone just to see them.
By the time I got there, I had already missed most of it but it was cool to see them! In my head though I was like, “LOL, I was much closer to them in NYC.”
This particular tteokbokki was actually spicier than any of the kinds I had in actual Korea, and it was ALMOST too spicy even for me. Chooch couldn’t handle it and I couldn’t finish mine which is unheard of when it comes to my stomach and tteokbokki.
This was the only open space in this particular area and only because it was near the exit.
THEN PENTAGON CAME OUT ON THE KCON STAGE!! Out of all the groups in this year’s lineup, they were the ones I was most excited to see. I think they’re so fun and talented and exude a positive energy and mystique that draws me in and makes me want to learn more about then, which means watching videos called “4 minutes of Pentagon speaking in English” or “Pentagon showing their aegyo” or “Pentagon 2x dance compilation.”
Oh Kpop, you make it so hard to just be a part-time stan.
Papa H took this picture with the “good camera” which I didn’t know he was doing until I turned around and he had the look of “Gotta get these pics for my daughter” concentration on his face. Oh, Henry.
Heize came out after that and it was really interesting learning more about her because she low-key is an extremely talented singer-songwriter and she does a lot of self-producing as well. I know people tend to view Kpop as a super pre-manufactured industry and I can’t even get defensive about that because it really isn’t wrong, but there are some people who are true artists in every sense and take the reigns when it comes to the creative process. Pentagon is this way as well and it just makes me have mad respect. They even said that they want to be known as a group who writes their own songs, so now you guys know!
Another Big High was when we witnessed this kid dancing to Hyolyn’s Dally. I was like, “OMG THIS SONG RLY?” because the choreo is insanely provocative, complete with floor-humping, but yeah, he did that.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention this other Big High: while I was standing in the super long merch line (the girls behind me complimented me on my idol keychains and said they got excited when they saw that one is Jimin and I didn’t even mind that they were touching them that’s how happy I was to feel like I belonged somewhere), the kpop dance cover contest started up on the KCON stage. I was happy that I was at least able to see that from the slow-moving line I was in because it was entertaining.
And then, while one of the dance groups was dancing to BTS’s “Fake Love,” the song stopped playing and there was a split second of WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN but then some people in the audience STARTED SINGING so that the dancers could finish their routine and I’d have to remove the “Honestly” from my blog name if I sat here and told you that I didn’t cry. It was so touching and inspirational! This video is really worth watching.
I was reading the comments and it’s all, “They didn’t even know the words though” and let me tell you something, I know very little of the Korean parts to even my FAVORITE, most-played Kpop songs. I’m not a big singer to begin with (I always do the monotone humming with random screamed words) and even if someone was like, “THINK FAST, FINISH THIS LYRIC TO A SUPER POPULAR SONG BY YOUR FAVORITE BAND THE CURE!” I would be like, “……………………………um……………………………” So it bothers me that there were so many negative comments attempting to overshadow what was a really beautiful moment shared by the Kpop community.
Then we saw my SUPER FAVORITE KOREAN YOUTUBER JOAN KIM at the Innisfree tent and we wanted a picture but got there too late and the Korean guys behind us were like super sad that they missed an opportunity but I was just as happy to snap a paparazzi shot from where I was standing and be done with it. Seriously though, watching Joan’s videos ended up sculpted a good bit of our Korea itinerary much to Henry’s chagrin, haha. He was NOT stoked to see her, yet he was the one that pointed her out earlier. “LOOK WHO IT IS” he said, trying to act like he didn’t care, but he sure did notice, didn’t he!?
It was about 4pm by this point, so we decided to skip the last 2 hours of the convention, go back to the “hotel” to freshen up, and then got some dinner before Chooch and I headed back to the Prudential Center for the concert. STAY TUNED FOR THAT RECAP! IT WAS SO GOOD! AHHH!!!
Here’s a special treat for those who made it to the end! Henry is going to tell you what he did when he bluffed and said he was GOING BACK TO PITTSBURGH (I wish you could have heard me say that just now in the voice I use to mock him).
I can’t remember exactly how the whole situation started, I’m sure I did not exacerbate the situation at all. All I remember is walking away pissed off and ready to leave, which I did right out the gate and didn’t look back once. Once out of the gate, I brought up the Lyft app to get a ride back to the hotel, where I could get the car and drive back to Pittsburgh, instead I decided to go get something to eat instead since I was hungry, pretty sure that is why Erin blew up for absolutely no reason, hunger does that to her. After eating I went back in to the convention and walked around not looking for anybody in particular, especially the ones I came with. After a while we happened to run in to each other, actually they were creeping on a You Tuber and didn’t see me. Then tried to play it off like they were not worried about being left in Newark alone. I wouldn’t do that to Chooch. Wouldn’t do it Erin either, I love her too much!! Maybe next time Ill actually leave and teach her a lesson.
LOL ok, none of this is true and I just asked him where he allegedly ate and he said he ate “in a store”, so what, a Slim Jim and Zagnut?