My 2017 Kpop Year | Outspoken East
Individual blog posts for each event will published in the following weeks.
Last year was all about changes for me. Leaving my home country and moving to New York was the biggest one. But with change comes opportunity, and New York definitely opened the door to many positive Kpop related experiences. And because of it, I decided to look back on my 2017 Kpop year and tell you all a little bit about it. Think of it as a wrap up of sorts.
Going to KCON has been on my bucket list for a long time now. But the ordeal of having to pay plane tickets to and from Puerto Rico and a place to stay really didn’t make the situation any easier. That is, until last year when I started living here. So, I saved up money and was able to attend KCON NY on both days.
The Next K-Drama Star Panel was my favorite that day.
Overall, the convention was a fun experience. The check-in process was quick, I was able to get all the passes I needed, Kevin Woo’s meet-up was entertaining and fun, and my experience volunteering for a fansite was a good one. I was able to attend both audiences for HIGHLIGHT and CN Blue and the concert on both days was amazing. And even though I went by myself, I was really grateful for the fans that were kind enough to talk to me and keep me company on both days.
On the downside, the lines were long, especially the one to get in the concert, the food and drinks were way overpriced, and I wasn’t able to attend all the panels I wanted to. Mainly because the fan audience events were scheduled at the same time and people had to line up early to be able to get a good spot. But these things really didn’t affect my overall experience at the convention.
But I did learn a lot about the convention experience. Here are some things I’m going to be doing differently this year:
- Creating a schedule to print out, so I can organize the day better and save more battery on my phone.
- Making sure to bring my power bank so I can charge my phone while attending panels.
- Wearing comfortable and breathable clothes because it’ll probably be really hot.
- Bringing a medium size tote bag and a big bottle of water with me because the New York sun is no joke. Take it from a person who has lived most of her life in the Caribbean. The sun during the summer here in New York is out to kill.
HIGHLIGHT / CN Blue
The fondest memory I have of KCON New York is definitely being able to finally see HIGHLIGHT and CN Blue in person for the first time. I’ve been a fan of HIGHLIGHT (formerly know as B2ST) ever since 2009 and CN Blue since their debut in 2010, but I’d never had the chance to see them in person. Thankfully, I was able to get a pass for both fan audience events and a hi-touch pass for HIGHLIGHT.
When it came to HIGHLIGHT’s hi-touch event, it went by really fast as usual but just being able to say hi and thank you for coming was enough for me. CN Blue didn’t have a hi-touch event, which was a bit disappointing, but they were very friendly and funny during their Q&A session. Honestly, both groups interacted well with the host and the audience while answering questions or responding to something being screamed out by fans.
My only criticism would be that the fan audience events were a bit too short. So if it’s possible maybe this year they can make it a bit longer by adding maybe a game or taking a bit more time during the hi-touch. 😉
M Countdown Concerts
Honestly, I attended the concerts mainly because I wanted to see HIGHLIGHT and CN Blue perform. And at first, I was worried about getting bored because a lot of newer groups I hadn’t listened to were invited. But they all performed really good songs, and I ended up looking for more information about them. Especially songs like SF9’s Easy Love, KNK’s Knock and NCT 127’s Limitless. Also, my favorites did great when it came to closing each concert day. The crowd went wild when HIGHLIGHT ended the concert with one of their old songs as B2ST and CN Blue had everyone grooving with their live band performance. So based on my experience, I’d definitely have to say that going to the M Countdown concerts was worth it. As long as you’re open to seeing other groups perform, I think you’ll really enjoy it.
If anything, the only aspect of the concert that needs to be improved is how the lines are distributed, making sure the staff is informed about what each line is for and making the check-in process a quick and efficient one. Because it isn’t fun having to stand under the rain to then run to your seat because the pre-show is about to end and you’re about to miss the beginning of the show.
Volunteering for Fandoms
Both volunteering opportunities came about through Twitter. The first one I learned about a couple of weeks before KCON NY. I read in a tweet that @b2stera was looking for volunteers to distribute banners to HIGHLIGHT fans during KCON. I filled out the application and sometime later, the admin in charge got in contact with all the volunteers. She organized us all into groups, gave us the instructions, and we managed to distribute all the HIGHLIGHT banners that day. I was grateful to have had a very kind and fun team leader, and that we were able to work as a team to get the job done. Especially the fact that I was able to work with B2STera who has for many years been very supportive of B2ST (now know as HIGHLIGHT).
Fast forward to August, when I saw yet again a message on Twitter of @EricNam_USA looking for volunteers to distribute fan goods for Eric’s NYC concert. I send them a message on Twitter and they referred me to the leaders in charge of the fan project. And to my surprise, the girls had also been volunteers for HIGHLIGHT during KCON, but we had not gotten a chance to meet. So the day of the concert, we arrived early to the venue, and from time to time, would distribute the goods to everyone in line and explained how and when each item would be used during the concert. It was tiring but seeing fans get excited about a fan project being organized for the concert made it worth it.
Since back home in Puerto Rico I had worked with the fanbase B1A4 Puerto Rico to distribute banners before B1A4’s concert, I knew more or less what to do and wasn’t nervous interacting with the fans. I’m so glad everyone was willing to listen and accept the fan goods. And thankfully those who didn’t want to participate weren’t rude about it.
My advice is that as long as you verify the accounts that are looking for volunteers, read the requirements and way out the pros and cons, volunteering can be worth it. You just have to be careful, read thoroughly and see if it’s right for you.
Ever since I became a Big Bang fan back in 2009, I’ve always wanted to see them perform live. But the chance never presented itself up until last year when it was announced that TaeYang was coming to the US. Words can not express how excited I was to know he’d be making a stop in New York. After all these years, I would finally be able to see a member of Big Bang, my favorite, perform live.
TaeYang’s concert was one of the most fun concerts I’ve ever been to. And even though I came back home really tired, it was totally worth it. I danced along to some songs, sang my heart out when he sang Wedding Dress and got a little emotional while he sang Last Dance. Which was beautiful because so many people of different ethnicities and ages came that evening to see TaeYang perform, and the atmosphere and vibe of it all were just amazing. TaeYang is a great performer who knows very well how to interact with his audience and give them a world-class experience. Also, he’s just a genuinely nice person who makes people smile and happy. That’s always a plus. I really hope I get to see him perform live again in the future.
Interviewed by Fomo Daily
Being interviewed by FOMO Daily was really unexpected. Earlier that evening, a person working for the channel asked me and a fan I’d met that day if we wanted to do an interview. We asked more or less what the questions would be about and accepted the offer. It turned out to be a really quick ordeal, and I had fun doing it. It was nice just to talk a bit about TaeYang and listen to other fans answer the questions as well.
Disclaimer: I know Day6 isn’t a Kpop group. They're a band. But they're part of the Hallyu music scene.
Contrary to the other events I attended, I was actually able to go to Day6’s concert with a very good friend of mine from Puerto Rico. That day, we made sure to arrive on time, so we could get our wristbands and fan goods for the concert. Fortunately, waiting in line wasn’t that bad because it gave us time to catch up and meet other fans. ( Shout out to MyDay for being such a kind, supportive and friendly fandom.) We also had the chance to participate in the Sing-A-Long project Subkulture was filming at each tour location. Which at first made me nervous because my pronunciation isn’t the best. But since we just sang two verses of the song as a group, it came out pretty good.
I think everyone who’s a fan of Day6 should see them perform live. Because, yes they can sing, but the sound of the instruments accompanying their voices is much better experienced in person. Especially because they don’t sing their songs 100% like the studio version. And also, their reactions on stage and interactions with the fans while singing just adds to the overall experience of hearing them perform live. Like for example, YoungK doing hearts signs with his hands on stage, SungJin’s surprised facial expression when fans were able to sing along, Jae jumping into the crowd to get everyone excited, among other things that happened that night. Day6 is no doubt a very talented group.
The Q&A session and the guessing game were also a fun part of the concert. It was nice to just settle down and listen to guys answer fan made questions. We learned a lot about them, and they all seemed really comfortable answering questions and interacting with the audience. And even though half of the audience was trolled by SungJin’s answer during the guessing game, we forgive him. (Maybe)
Overall, I had a really positive experience seeing Day6 in concert. And being able to go with my friend made the experience even better. I’ve enjoyed EveryDay6 so much, and I’m really going to miss getting new music every month. But hopefully, I’ll be able to see them live again soon enough. Day6 화이팅!
Kpop has always been part of my life since 2009. And part of me felt a bit sad about not being able to attend the get-togethers organized for the Kpop community back home. But I’m happy and grateful I had the opportunity to attend these events. I learned a lot about the community here and about myself because of it. And honestly, I was curious when it came to seeing how US Kpop fans were. Fortunately, I was able to meet a lot of nice fans throughout the year who were so kind and down to Earth. And I learned to be comfortable with going alone to big events and just enjoying the moment.
Kpop was definitely the highlight of my 2017 and hopefully, 2018 won’t disappoint. I’m looking forward to getting to know the Kpop community in New York and hopefully hosting an event for K-Drama fans in the summer. I’ll be doing my part to make sure not to miss any opportunities that come my way. I hope you all do the same by taking the necessary steps to make 2018 your year.
If you’d like to tell me how Kpop contributed positively to your 2017, make sure to leave me a comment. I’d loved to know more about everybody’s year.
Content shared cr: @youngajummah | FOMO Daily | Subkulture YouTube Channel