One of the highlights of this year’s KCON for many attendees were the artist engagement sessions held throughout the convention. During these brief meetings, a select group of fans was able to see their favorite idols in the flesh, with the stars only standing only a few feet away from them. For many, such an opportunity and experience was very surreal; their favorite stars were right in front of them, in the flesh and not just appearing through a glowing screen.
Audrey was fortunate enough to get into two of the most in-demand artist engagement sessions, Bigbang’s G-Dragon and EXO, and we have some exclusive photos just for you!
Though he was flying solo, it was no question that G-Dragon was an artist that most KCON fans were excited to see. Once he got on stage, the crowd electrified with numerous screams of joy and countless professions of love. That energy remained throughout his Q&A session, especially when he expressed his anticipation and admiration for EXO and his cravings for the California culinary staple, In-N-Out. Dressed in a simple tank, sunglasses and beanie, he was the charismatic, cool guy that fans have come to know and adore.
With an innumerable amount of t-shirts with the group member’s names strewn on the front, “Wolf”-inspired outfits and impromptu dance covers of “Growl” being seen all around the convention, it became quickly clear that the guys of EXO were clearly a fan favorite. Dressed in uniforms, the boys proved their prowess in pleasing fans, having impromptu performances and answering questions in the most adorable way possible (for instance, D.O.’s profession of his love for steak).
With such a jam-packed, exciting weekend, what was your favorite part of this year’s KCON?
After two jam-packed days of anything and everything hallyu, it was finally time for the convention’s biggest and most anticipated event — the star-studded concert and recording of Mnet’s über-popular music show, M Countdown. But just before the curtains (or more appropriately, LED screens) rose, Audrey was lucky enough to have red carpet access, and we’re bringing you some photos of some of K-pop’s top stars.
A finalist on Mnet’s talent competition program, Superstar K4, sixteen year-old Yu Seung Woo melted hearts with his adorable smile and sweet, acoustic tunes.
Next up was the ever-charming ballad group, 2AM, dressed to a tee in suspenders, bow-ties and perfectly pressed shirts.
Despite the scorching LA heat, DJ Koo kept it cool in his all-leather outfit and later on, made sure to hype up the crowd with his K-Pop mix at the start of the show.
The only female artists in the line-up, SM Entertainment’s f(x) looked stunning in their printed, Versace-inspired outfits. During the red carpet, Amber was able to express their excitement for the big show, as well as their gratitude to their American fans for their continued support, even being halfway around the world.
Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated acts of the night, if the ear-piercing screams proved to be any indication, the 12 boys of EXO showed no signs of jet lag (after arriving in L.A. just the day before), making jaws drop with their perfectly fitting uniforms, coiffed hair and handsome looks.
The guys of Teen Top, caught our attention with their colorful hair and charming charisma, showing very little signs of nerves, despite their KCON stage being their first performance outside of Korea.
Decked out in a clean, well-fitted suit (brownie points for him!), Super Junior-M’s Henry hit the red carpet, delighting fans with his lovable personality, showing off an endearing sense of confidence that you couldn’t help but get drawn to.
For more exclusive KCON Red Carpet photos, check out our gallery below:
I first became interested in Kpop with the release of DBSK’s Hug in 2004. Like any young fangirl, I blew up my social media sites with pictures and videos of my newfound love. At the time, however, I received an overwhelming amount of criticism from friends:
“But you’re not Korean?” “Why are you into this? You don’t even speak Korean.” “Korean music is really weird.”
“But you don’t understand what they’re saying.”
Fast forward 9 years and the rise of Kpop has become a world-wide phenomenon. The very same people who questioned my interest towards Kpop were jamming to Big Bang and now criticizing me instead for not hearing the latest song a week after its release.
The point is, times have changed and this weekend was quite the eye opener. I realized that a lot of my non-Korean friends were fans of Kpop, but when a Korean co-worker said, “Most of the hardcore fans are not actually Korean Americans,” I assumed she was joking.
I was obviously proved wrong.
This past weekend was the 2nd annual KCON- a Kpop music festival held in the United States which presents an opportunity for American fans to come together and share their love for Korean Music. I expected the crazy fangirls, the intense cosplay, the neon-colored fan signs, and the korean food galore. What I didn’t expect, and was pleasantly surprised to discover, was the cultural diversity of the event.
Upon entering the festival, I was met with a sea of color. No, not the bright pink Mnet bags and the neon green Bibigo balloons. The palette of ethnicities was beyond impressive. Because of my initial experience with Kpop, I had expected this festival to largely consist of Koreans along with a handful of Pan-Asians. I assumed that I would meet the same criticism that my friends initially gave me about not being able to understand the language, but a visit to the dance workshop area proved otherwise.
The stage was covered with Caucasians, Latinos, African Americans, and various other non-Asian folk. Not only did East Asians show their presence, but Southeast Asians and South Asians did as well. Fans who clearly stated they were not Korean were singing every single word of their favorite songs and impressively showcasing the intricate dance moves to these songs. Yes, these fans took time out of their lives to memorize lyrics to Korean songs without actually knowing Korean. Now that’s dedication.
The more time I spent at the festival, the more I came across cultural diversity. I came across a Caucasian man (well into his 30s) who excitedly purchased a heart-shaped fan with the pictures of 2am printed on it. I came across a group of Latina girls sporting G-Dragon hats, shirts, and even sneakers. I came across a non-Asian boy (who couldn’t have been older than 12) perform the choreography of Growl so well that even EXO would have been impressed.
I came out of this KCON experience realizing that the beauty of this festival was not in the performers and the pretty concert. The beauty was in the fans who attended. Never once was anyone criticized for their racial background or their inability to speak Korean. This was a place for fans, whatever color that may be, to get together and celebrate their fandom. This was a place where it didn’t matter where you came from and how you looked — you were accepted because you loved the same thing.
As Korean American rapper, Dumbfounded, mentioned during his panel “Asian Americans in Hip-Hop”, Kpop is special because of the different kinds of people it can bring together. Clearly, Kpop should be applauded for the array of fans it has been able to captivate.
Before they were the famous and beloved idols they are today, some of our favorite KCON 2013 attendees were once wee, adorable children. Our favorite idols (and some very clever, stealthy netizens) have revealed their über-precious, squeal-worthy photos online. Take a peek below!
G-Dragon (Big Bang)
Jo Kwon (2AM)
L. Joe (Teen Top)
Niel (Teen Top)
Ricky (Teen Top)
SO CUTE, RIGHT? Who do you think has the most precious photo?
There’s no denying it- when it comes to KCON 2013, EXO easily ranks as the group we’re most excited to see. Admittedly, we had some doubts when we first laid eyes on this group. You see, EXO is separated into two subgroups, EXO K and EXO M, which promotes in Korea and China respectively. But together? This boy band totals to 12 members. Overwhelming? Just a bit. As much as we wanted to get to know the line-up for KCON, was learning all 12 members worth it?
YES. The answer to that question is a very enthusiastic yes.
Any doubts we may have had about this group were blown out the window when EXO released the music video to their song “Growl” and created an online frenzy. How good is this thing? People who had no previous interest in KPOP what-so-ever were complimenting the song, the hypnotizing dance, and the music video style.
Needless to say, we had this video on repeat for days. In less than four minutes, the boys were able to grab our attention and keep it there. Suddenly we were watching their interviews, listening to their songs, and slowly but surely learning their names and personalities. (We were also squealing, blushing, and hyperventilating over our favorites, but lets not get into that)
So we’re here to help you out. Having some trouble distinguishing the boys from one another? Check out Audrey’s Ultimate Guide to EXOand you’ll be all set for this weekend!
1) S U H O
NAME: Suho (Kim Joongmyun) HEIGHT: 5’8” BIRTHDATE: May 22, 1991 NATIONALITY: Korean POSITION: Leader, Lead Vocalist IDEAL TYPE: Suho likes a girl with an interest in literature and long, straight hair. He wants someone that is knowledgeable with an explosive personality. FUN FACT: Known for spoiling his band members by buying them lots of food.
DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: It is said that he looks similar to Super Junior’s Choi Siwon
2) B A E K H Y U N NAME: Baekhyun (Byun Baekhyun) HEIGHT: 5’7” BIRTHDATE: May 6, 1992 NATIONALITY: Korean POSITION: Main Vocalist IDEAL TYPE: Baekhyun likes a gir that is full of charm. He likes a girl that looks good wearing jeans, which means someone with a good figure. FUN FACT: Some of his international fanbase has nicknamed him “Bacon” DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Thick Eyeliner and Charming Smile
3) C H A N Y E O L NAME: Chanyeol (Park Chanyeol) HEIGHT: 6’1” BIRTHDATE: November 27, 1992 NATIONALITY: Korean POSITION: Main Rapper, Vocalist IDEAL TYPE: Chanyeol wants someone cute, someone who smiles a lot, and someone who is sincere person. Someone who will laugh when he is talking to her and has a bubbly personality. FUN FACT: He is very musically talented and plays the guitar, drums, bass, djembe, and more. DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Big Smile (sometimes jokingly a creeper smile)
4) D. O. NAME: D.O. (Do Kyungsoo) HEIGHT: 5’8” BIRTHDATE: January 12, 1993 NATIONALITY: Korean POSITION: Main Vocalist IDEAL TYPE: D.O.’s priority is that the girl is kind and appreciates good food. He wants a sexy, cute, and beautiful girl. FUN FACT: He is the cleanest and tidiest member of EXO DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Thick lips and strong brows
5) K A I NAME: Kai (Kim Jongin) HEIGHT: 6’0” BIRTHDATE: January 14, 1994 NATIONALITY: Korean POSITION: Main Dancer, Vocalist, Lead Rapper IDEAL TYPE: Kai likes girls who are gentle and passionate. His ideal type is Han Ye Seul. FUN FACT: He has amazing dance skills – He’s been doing ballet and jazz since childhood DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: ABS
6) S E H U N NAME: Sehun (Oh Sehun) HEIGHT: 5’11” BIRTHDATE: April 12, 1994 NATIONALITY: Korean POSITION: Lead Dancer, Rapper, Sub-Vocalist IDEAL TYPE: Sehun likes girls who are bright and cheerful. He also wants them neat and clean. FUN FACT: He is the youngest of the group and has a habit of sticking his tongue out DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Uninterested/stoic resting face
__________________________________________ EXO M
7) X I U M I N NAME: Xiumin (Birthname: Kim Min Seok) HEIGHT: 5’8” BIRTHDAY: March 27, 1990 NATIONALITY: Korean BAND POSITION: Lead vocals, Lead dancer IDEAL TYPE: A comforting person who can keep him warm with hugs and will also smile at him brightly. FUN FACT: He’s often been told that he looks like the Wonder Girls’ Sohee (http://24.media.tumblr.com/ff03db8621b7dd8579a0993a88b390d2/tumblr_mprfjwCbom1st49nxo1_500.jpg_ ) and is the “high note champion” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqaWYRvk2P4) of the group. DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Sharp eyes and round cheeks (one of his nicknames is Baozi, or “Little Bun”)!
8) L U H A N NAME: Luhan (Birthname: Lu Han) HEIGHT: 5’10” BIRTHDAY: April 20, 1990 NATIONALITY: Chinese BAND POSITION: Lead vocalist, lead dancer, “Face” of the group IDEAL TYPE: A gentle, quiet girl who is graceful and elegant and someone who will cheer him on. Physically, he likes a girl with long straight hair and fair skin. FUN FACT: He’s scared of heights; in fact, when the group went to Disneyland, he stayed with their manager and didn’t go on a lot of the rides. DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Large, doe-like eyes
9) L A Y
NAME: Lay (Birthname: Zhang Yi Xing) HEIGHT: 5’9.5” BIRTHDAY: October 7, 1991 NATIONALITY: Chinese BAND POSITION: Main dancer, Vocalist IDEAL TYPE: A girl who is kind-hearted, cute and respectful with a positive personality. Physically, someone who has large eyes, long hair and shorter than him. FUN FACT: In 2010, he was in SHINee’s concert tour as Jonghyun’s dance replacement. DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: One dimple on his right cheek
10) K R I S NAME: Kris (Birthname: Wu Yi Fan) HEIGHT: 6’1.5” BIRTHDAY: November 6, 1990 NATIONALITY: Chinese-Canadian BAND POSITION: Leader, Main Rapper, Sub-Vocals IDEAL TYPE: Likes girls who can cook, are kind-hearted and willing to take care of people. FUN FACT: Though he doesn’t draw well by most people’s standards, he firmly believes in his artistic ability. DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Strong, bold eyes and eyebrows
11) T A O
NAME: Tao (Huang Zi Tao) HEIGHT: 6’0” BIRTHDAY: May 2, 1993 NATIONALITY: Chinese BAND POSITION: Lead Rapper, Vocalist, Maknae (Youngest) IDEAL TYPE: A girl who is pretty with a nice body and has a nice personality. But, he’s revealed that love isn’t something he’s necessarily looking for, saying in an interview, “I really don’t care [about love/ideal types] because I’m still young and I’m a hardworking ninja that want to focus on my career.” FUN FACT: He’s trained in wushu, a skill he often shows off on variety shows. DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: Dark circles under eyes (One of his nicknames is Kung Fu Panda!)
12) C H E N NAME: Chen (Birthname: Kim Jong Dae) HEIGHT: 5’8” BIRTHDAY: September 21, 1992 NATIONALITY: Korean BAND POSITION: Main vocalist IDEAL TYPE: Someone who is noona-like (“noona” = a woman who is older) and will take care of him and treat him well. He also likes a girl who is pretty when she smiles, has a faithful personality and an open mind. FUN FACT: His main specialty is singing high notes (and even participated in a high note battle against fellow EXO members Xiumin and Baekhyun). DISTINGUISHABLE TRAIT: A super sweet smile
In just a matter of days, KCON makes its way back the City of Angels to celebrate all things hallyu. This year’s two-day convention will be filled with workshops and panels and culminate in a star-studded concert and filming of the popular Korean music show,M Countdown.
Excited yet? We know we are!
But just in case you aren’t yet, us here at Audrey wanted to give you taste of what to expect for this year’s show through our musical go-to guide of some of this year’s featured artists!
The newest boy group to come out of mega-label SM Entertainment (and an Audrey favorite!), EXO is a 12-member Korean-Chinese band made up of two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, who promote in both Korea and China. Though they just debuted last year, they have made a name for themselves in the K-Pop industry, already winning an Mnet Asian Music Award (MAMA) for “Best New Asian Act.”
For their latest comeback, the two sub-groups have reunited and have gained notice with their cool, R&B-inspired single “Growl.”
Starting his training at YG Entertainment at the tender age of 13, G-Dragon is known as a K-Pop multi-hyphenate as the leader, a rapper and producer of mega-popular boy group Big Bang. Alongside projects with Big Bang as well as a duo project with fellow Big Bang rapper T.O.P., GD launched his solo career in 2009 with the release of his first album. After his hugely successful “One of a Kind” world tour this past year, he has recently announced the release of his third solo record, “Coup D’Etat,” which will have a feature from hip-hop heavyweight, Missy Elliott.
Debuting in 2010 with TOP Media (the media company founded by Andy of K-Pop legends, Shinhwa), Teen Top broke onto the scene with their first single, “Clap.” With a string of hits under their belt, including “Supa Love” and “Crazy,” the young teen idols will be releasing their new album, “Class,” in the coming weeks.
With a distinct electronic pop sound, f(x) has become known as one of the hottest girl groups in K-Pop today. With songs like “NU ABO,” “Hot Summer,” and “Electric Shock,” the girls are nothing short of a K-Pop powerhouse. Composed of members Luna, Krystal, Amber, Sulli, and Victoria, this SM Entertainment quintet has continued to surprise and delight fans with their unique style.
Henry Lau, known just as Henry, is multi-talented member of Super Junior’s Chinese sub-group, Super Junior-M. Knowing a wide range of languages, including English, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and French, this 23-year old has a penchant for music. He is able to play both the violin and piano and has composed songs. Earlier this year, he released his first solo mini-album, “Trap” and has just released the song “1-4-3” featuring fellow SM Town family member, Amber of f(x).
From JYP/Big Hit Entertainment comes 2AM, a popular ballad group made up of members Seulong, Changmin, Jo Kwon and Jinwoon. Winning their first Mutizen award in 2010 for “Can’t Let You Go Even If I Die,” they have melted hearts with their sweet harmonies and outstanding voices. Earlier this year, they made their Korean comeback with the release of their second full-length album “One Spring Day.”
YU SEUNG WOO
At just 16 years old, Yu Seung Woo first began to catch people’s attention when he appeared on Mnet’s popular singing audition program, Superstar K4. His soothing guitar playing and gentle voice have made many a fan, especially on tracks like “You and I” and “Hello,” off of his recently released album, “First Outing.”
This team, made up of long-time friends Choiza and Gaeko, have become one of the most respected acts in South Korea’s hip-hop scene. Active since 2003, they have released a number of hit albums, including “Taxi Driver” and “Enlightened.”
As the only female rapper to have six platinum albums, to say that Missy Elliott is a major player in the hip-hop scene is an understatement. A five-time Grammy Award-winner, the rapper-producer-singer-songwriter has sold over 30 million records worldwide. With a discography that boasts six albums and 70 singles (including 43 features), including hits like “Work It,” “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” and “One Minute Man.” Her connection to the K-Pop scene? She’s recently collaborated on G-Dragon’s latest album, to be released at the end of this month.
A former member of ‘90s dance duo Clon, DJ Koo is a popular electro-house DJ who made his debut in 2003. Playing festivals like Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, DJ Koo has demonstrated his immense skill and creativity in arranging, mixing and producing electronic dance hits, even mixing for some of K-Pop’s biggest names including f(x) and SHINee. In 2013, he released his latest single, “BOB BOB DEE LALA.”
As a finalist on the 11th season of American Idol, Heejun Han caught America’s attention with his soulful voice and funny antics. Recently singing with Polaris Entertainment in Korea, he will soon be releasing a single in the US entitled “Bring the Love Back” with Pusha T.
KCON 2013 is just around the corner, and the question that has risen for most (if not all) attendees is this: “WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?!” With thousands of fellow hallyu fans and not to mention a notable handful of idols in attendance this year, the pressure is on to find that perfect outfit. Stuck on what to wear this year? No fear! We’ve broken down KPOP fan fashion into three rough categories, based on what we’ve observed (and worn) from our own time in the hallyu scene. Take a look at what may suit you!
The Style Mavens
Admittedly, you’re a K-Pop fan. You have your favorite artists, biases/ideal types and OTPs (one true pair for those who may not be familiar), but the visual cues of your fandom memberships are subtle. You choose to set off your fashion-forward outfits with K-Pop accessories, ranging from phone cases to rings to necklaces, phone cases or even those cute socks with your favorite idol’s face on them (hidden by your sneakers, of course). Though you love your idols just as much as the next person, you’re fine with showing your love through small displays.
So something like this…
Worn with something like this…
(From L to R: G-Dragon “One of a Kind” necklace, EXO ring, Teen Top rings)
You’re equally as devoted to making a fashion statement as you are about showing off your KPOP loyalties. Whether a shirt emblazoned with Dynamic Duo’s faces, a GD snapback a la “Bad Boy,” or a pair of Teen Top socks (with appropriate shoes), you’re not afraid to show others where your loyalties lie. And as popular fashion-blogger Tricia Gosingtian shows, the “fangirl/fanboy” look can be much more than just wearing a t-shirt and jeans — but regardless of sartorial tendencies, you’re a clear KPOP fan.
Tricia’s take on KPOP fan fashion:
(Clearly, Trica’s a GD/Big Bang stan.)
Besides Tricia’s GD-inspired tops (which we’re absolutely in love with), here’s some other things that you can pick up for your outfit, picked especially for KCON:
You’re a fan who is wholly committed to the cause…of KPOP. You’ve done your extensive research and everything from your hair, makeup and clothes is a carbon copy of your favorite idol. Whether it’s donning the same Joyrich/Chrome Hearts/Stussy/HBA/(insert cool streetwear brand here) T-Shirts and jerseys, colorful clothes, or homemade costume ala your favorite music video, you are a perfect double take for your favorite oppa, unnie or dongsaeng. With a deluge of KPOP online shops makingitridiculouslyeasyto know what clothes your favorite idols are wearing, it’s easier than ever to become an idol, or at least, look like one.
Some great (k)osplays from online:
But hands down, one of our personal favorites — little Big Bang!
So now that you’ve seen the different styles, what will you be wearing at KCON this year?
Audrey Magazine is an award-winning national publication that covers the Asian experience from the perspective of Asian American women. Audrey covers the latest talent and trends in entertainment, fashion, beauty and lifestyle.