As the start of KCON is just a few days away, there are a few of you out there who have asked me for tips and tricks on just how to get the most out of your KCON experience. I’m more than happy to offer up my limited experience with the caveat that 1) I have only actually been to one of them, and 2) this year they are going to be at a conference facility so some of the things I experienced last year won’t really be applicable this year.
However, I have been to several RWA (Romance Writers of America) annual conferences, so I could possibly pull from that.
So here is my list of tips and tricks to get you through the event with a little less stress and a little more know-how. Unless you’ve been going there since the beginning and know your way around the block—in which case I say bully for you!
Gotta recharge those batteries, so bring quick charge cell phone packs, or, if you’re lucky, extra camera batteries. I’m still bitter about wasting my leftover battery power on Teen Top and having my camera shut down halfway through GDragon’s performance.
Make sure your phone is not automatically uploading/saving your pictures to a drive on your network. Set it to “Only on wifi” I ran out of a months worth of “unlimited’’ data in two days.
This year you are supposed to preregister your tickets.
You will be walking A LOT. I know we all want to look super cute, but you don’t want to be tired and cranky for the all important concerts at the end of the day, do you??
Be the early bird
Now this might be something that is fixed this year by the new venue and the preregistration, but the line to get in last year was NO JOKE. It circled the whole event. If you want context, my friend s dropped me off at the gate for my panel at 9:00 a.m. then went to wait in line—and didn’t actually get into the event until midway through my second panel at 2:30 p.m… yep, that was a six hour line. (Turns out you can also register on Thursday—a day before the event even opens! Do that! I love the fact that they listened to the issues and are doing what they can to make them better.)
Be prepared to be in lines
It’s gonna happen. Last year there were over 46,000 people there—that’s a lot of fangirls. Lines to get in, lines to get beverages, lines for events, lines for giveaways. Be prepared and don’t get whiny—why irritate yourself and everyone around you?
This is very important! You want to hydrate whenever possible. However, don’t pre-buy bottles, either, before going to the event as your bag will be checked. Or don’t buy a drink now and a drink for later at the conference itself, as last year, when you went from the food area to the conference area, your bags were checked and beverages were thrown out—even if you bought them there! This might be different this year since the set up is different, but better safe than sorry.
This is going to sound super dumb, and it might not even be a problem this year, but last year, by the second day, most of the toilets were out of toilet paper. Luckily I was rocking a pack in my bag, so me and my friends were safe, but when I offered them to the other ladies in line, I was suddenly the weird one. It was a little bit of a satisfaction when they went in there without my offered paper—GUESS WHO’S THE WEIRDO NOW??
Sunscreen—or an umbrella
The LA sun can be a little unforgiving. Since it’s now inside, I’m not sure how much this is applicable, but there it is. You don’t want to get sunburned on Friday and be miserable and look terrible in pictures for the rest of the weekend.
Cash—and lots of it
There are tons of things to buy there, lots of vendors selling merch and food, plus things like:
The trading tree!
I’m sure there will be the equivalent of the trading tree somewhere in the new location. If you bought a ticket that comes with scratchers, it’s the luck of the draw, you never know what you are going to get, you might even get two of the same event. The trading tree is where attendees go to swap or sell off unwanted or extra scratchers. I was very tempted last year to purchase a BTS high touch—but wiser minds prevailed.
Talk to everyone
I know this seems like a “Dur” to most of you, but to you who may have a slight issue with crowds or a little social anxiety, this probably falls under “aww hellz no!” But here’s the thing, this is the one place where everyone around you (except the odd and very patient chaperone) likes KPop and KDrama just as much as you do. This is the one place where it’s okay to talk about your Korean obsession without the usual “You watch what?” or even better, the dreaded eye roll. When you’re standing in line, I PROMISE you, everyone is just as excited to talk about KDrama, favorite KPop bands, biases within that band, and biases in general. So take a deep breath, man up, and strike up a conversation—you won’t regret it. Besides—you never know if that person you’re standing next to is someone you’ve been chatting online with forever! Or someone who might run your favorite blog… just sayin’.
Take advantage of giveaways
KCON is filled with vendors trying to sell you general merch and vendors who are trying to sell you products and services. Lots of these places will have giveaways! Don’t be afraid to put your name into the basket, or download some app. You can get off a mailing list, you can delete an app (although chances are it’s probably a K-related app you already use or would want to use anyway) so what’s the harm? Just make note of times, if it’s a drawing you need to be back there for. I know someone who CLEANED UP last year just because she made sure to be in the right place at the right time.
Look first, shop later
There are going to be lots of vendors there. Don’t just willy-nilly buy everything as you come across them. Get the lay of the land first (there are three days, you have plenty of time) figure out what exactly it is you want and which vendor has the best price for it.
Keep an eye on the schedule. You need to be aware of when the panels you want to go to begin, when red carpets, high touches, and fan meets happen. You don’t want to miss out on your new bestie’s panel or walk past a stage where your favorite band is doing a Q&A…
Bring a bag
I prefer a backpack. Face it, you are going to be buying shit. People are going to be giving you shit. It’s best to have a place to put it without having to worry about it later.
Nobody likes a crushed poster!
If you’re buying posters, buy them at the end of the day! This way you won’t have to worry about it getting crushed during your day. And think about bringing some elastics—the vendors don’t always offer them.
Try different foods
There are going to be lots of Korean food or Korean fusion vendors there. And not too badly priced! So now is your chance to try food you’ve only seen in dramas. If you’re with a group of friends, buy one of a bunch of things and share together! It’s all part of the experience. And if the ahjumma dishing it out wants to pour dukkboki sauce on your grilled shrimp, like she’s doing you some sort of favor—just let her do it. They know best and again—it’s all part of the experience!
DO NOT MAKE A BIG ASS SIGN TO WAVE AT YOUR FAVORITE BAND!!!
This isn’t so much a rule as a be-kind-rewind, nice thing to do. There are going to be people behind you who paid just as much for their ticket as you did for yours—it’s not fair that during your (and probably their) favorite band all they can see is the back of your sign. Yep, the bands know you like them. That’s what you’re there for. Scream your head off—that hoarse throat at the end of the night should be thanks enough.
Don’t bring an SLR camera
Bringing an SLR (a camera with a removable lens) to the concerts or promotional events puts you in the realm of professional photographer, and you won’t be allowed in. (Unless you have a press badge.)
Go to panels!
Like mine! 🙂 (Secret Lives of KPop Fans Over 30 and The Men of KDrama both on Sunday—or if you’re going to be in NY, I’ll be at the Rise of the Idol Actor panel)
I hope your KCON is fun and safe! Make sure to tell me how it goes!