Saturday must have worn me out more than even I realized because I slept until 7:30 Sunday morning (a new record, I know). It felt glorious to sleep so long and I woke up in a near panic because I got irrationally freaked out about getting to the Sports Arena late and I’d miss my chance to be one of the VIP guests for the Danny From L.A. taping. (Which I still can’t believe I won because I never win anything! Ever.) Thankfully taking a deep breath in and pausing a moment to fully wake up was all it took to clear my head and bring me back to my more rational self. Of course not having a cosplay costume to wear on Sunday did send me into another tizzy as I frantically dug through all of the clothes both Tanya and I brought with, desperately trying to find something to wear that didn’t make me look old, fat or stupid. (A task I struggle with on a daily basis.) With Tanya’s help I did finally settle on something, which involved a skirt, of all things, and I totally blame Tanya for that. I can’t remember the last time I voluntarily wore a skirt anywhere… They don’t usually match my boho indie rock style (which is how Tanya describes my… um… unique… taste in fashion).
Dressed and ready for the day, we headed for downtown L.A. once again, though this time, we managed to munch a little breakfast, courtesy of Mr. Popo, along the way. (Thanks again for that, Michael!) I wish I could have enjoyed my breakfast a little more than I did but I was such a hyped up mess of nerves that I don’t think I managed to drink even half of my cup of coffee and I nibbled even less than half of my scone. Still, it was more than I had the day before and I was grateful for it.
Arriving at the Sports Arena with plenty of time to spare, the three of us packed up our ridiculous amount of bags (because apparently every KCON special guest is required to lug the world around with them all. weekend. long.) and began the long trek past the crowds of people who, once again, had gotten there obscenely early to wait in line until the gates opened. The funny thing about walking around KCON with Mr. Popo is seeing how many times he gets stopped by adoring fans, which is literally like every two seconds. Seriously, it took that poor man forever to get anywhere that weekend because he was constantly being stopped by fans requesting hugs and selcas and after seeing what he went through those two days, I seriously began to appreciate my semi-anonymity. (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it when people recognize me and stop me to say hi or get a quick hug but it happens so rarely that the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. I’m sure if I ever reached the level of fame Mr. Popo has, I might be singing a different tune. Then again… Maybe I wouldn’t. I love it when people stop me to say hi, it makes me feel so special!) It probably would have taken us the entire day to walk from our car to the gates, had not a super nice security guard taken pity on us and let us pass through the entrance reserved for artists and other VIPs. You have no idea how grateful we were to be allowed to skip a huge portion of the line and go straight into the convention. I could have hugged that security guard. Really.
Once inside, we had a few minutes to wander around before we had to be at our various panels and artist engagements so Tanya and I headed to the merch booth and bought a few posters. (Which I have yet to hang anywhere… Boy do I need an office!) From there it was straight to the Danny From L.A. taping for me as I desperately searched for someone who would be able to help me with my very major dilemma. You see, being one of the VIP guests for DFLA was super awesome but I was supposed to be there at 10 and I had a panel at 11. (Can you see why I was freaking out a bit?) I was so worried I’d have to skip DFLA and then I’d cry for a million years but, oh happy day, that wasn’t the case. Miraculously, I was able to find the right person and I explained my dilemma to him and he, being the wonderful and gracious person that he is, told me that I was more than welcome to go do my panel and then come back. All I had to do was find him when I was done and he would let me in. (Bless you Clipboard Man! Bless you!) With my heart light and my worries vanished, I skipped off to my only panel of the day, feeling like the queen of the world.
Being part of the “Second Leads and Second Lead Syndrome” Panel was one of the highlights of my time at KCON. I had so much fun discussing second leads and SLS with both Vivi and Coco from KDrama Fighting!, all three of The Crazy Ahjummas and our amazingly enthusiastic audience. Seriously, to those of you who happened to be there that day, I just want to say THANK YOU! Your love of K-Dramas and your enthusiasm for our beloved second leads is what made that panel awesome and you made being a part of it such a delight! (And high-five to all of the Quackers that were there! It’s so good to know I’m not alone in my undying love of the Quack Couple! Haha!)
As soon as time was up on my panel (and yes, the time flew on that one), it was a mad dash to pack up all my stuff (computer, iPod, etc.), say a quick hello to the handful of people who stuck around to say hi (and oddly enough, offer me a job as a writer for a different K-Drama website) and then run back to DFLA, mere moments before BTS made their entrance. Oh my goodness! I barely got there in time! Security was lined up all over the place and things were in the chaotic panic that comes just before filming begins. (And yes, I do know what that’s like because once upon a time, I too worked in the television industry and still have occasional nightmares about it. Oy! So much pressure!) For a brief moment I was afraid I was never going to find Clipboard Man and I’d miss my chance to be an actual VIP but the K-Pop gods were smiling on me that day and Clipboard Man miraculously appeared in front of me and with a hurried, “Go sit over there. Now!” I was shoved into the VIP section and forced to fight for a seat on the ground, amid the sea of press which had overrun the entire area.
I may not have had the best seat but I had one and that’s all that mattered and seconds after I’d claimed my own tiny spot, BTS took the stage. (But not before I received a very friendly and excited, “Hey Zombie Mamma!” from a group of girls standing in the massive crowd that had gathered around that stage. Thanks for that, btw. Being yelled at right before BTS came out totally made my day! I felt like a celebrity and all the press around me looked at me like, “Why the heck are people yelling at you?” It was great!) I have to say, being able to see BTS that close was amazing! They’re all so adorable in real life and their interview with Danny and Parker was so funny. Those poor boys were subjected to some pretty awful humiliation but they bore it well and laughed it off as well as they could. They’re such good sports! I was thoroughly impressed by Rap Monster, not only with his English skills but also with the way he led the rest of the group on-stage. He really set the tone for the entire interview and I’m now thoroughly convinced BTS couldn’t ask for a better leader. He’s such a doll! (Though Jimin is still my favorite.)
Sadly, the time with BTS came to an end (my inner fangirl wailing every bit as loud as the audience) and with their departure, so too did the mass of press, and a huge portion of the audience, disperse. With room to breathe, I was able to secure myself a much better seat for the rest of the day’s DFLA taping (front and center, in a chair even!) which included an interview with Jung Joon Young. (Woot!) While the set was reset, I had a chance to talk with several people who were sticking around to see Jung Joon Young, including the wonderful Lindsay Roberts (who had been on the OST panel with me the day before and is such an amazing person) and Sue and her daughter, which made the down-time fly by. Before I knew it, Jung Joon Young took the stage and oh. my. word. That man is absolutely adorable! He was so funny and so cute and just so much fun to watch, I just couldn’t understand why the crowd that had gathered for BTS didn’t stick around for Jung Joon Young. They missed out but I did not and I’m so happy I got to be there. Not only did Jung Joon Young entertain us all during his interview but he was more than happy to interact with the audience during all of the down-time, responding when fans cried out, “I love you!” with adorable, “I love you too”s and “Thank you”s.
With the end of Jung Joon Young’s interview, the DFLA taping for the day was brought to a close and I spent the rest of my afternoon wandering around KCON with Sue, just kind of taking it all in and finally finding the time to eat some of the amazing food offered in the Marketplace. Oh my goodness! The food! Had I know it was all so delicious the day before, you can bet your boots I wouldn’t have skipped eating like I did! Ack! The veggie burger I ate that day was the most incredibly delicious burger I have ever eaten in my entire life and seriously, if all burgers tasted like that one, I’d probably eat one every single day. Oh man! It was so good! I also had a few bites of ddeokbokki that was so hot my ears started burning and a slightly melty green tea macaroon that successfully put out the inferno in my mouth. With stomachs full, Sue and I set off to explore some more and had fun watching dancers strut their stuff at the Dance Workshops and a whole tent full of people making delicious looking lunch boxes at the Bibigo Workshop.
Wandering around KCON with Sue on Sunday was one of the highlights of my trip, as all of the pressure of being on panels and running from here to there like a madwoman was gone, and I had nothing more to do than relax and enjoy an afternoon of freedom with a friend. I did run into a few fans as I wondered (and it totally feels weird to call you all that because to me, you’re really friends) and I had fun chatting with all of you who stopped me, as we relived all of our favorite KCON moments, but for the most part, I was totally free and for the first time, I could really see why tens of thousands of people flock to KCON each year. It really is a most amazing place and being able to gather with so many like-minded, Hallyu obsessed chingus, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never, ever forget.
As the afternoon wore on, it was eventually time to brave the line that would take us to the finale of our KCON experience and again, though I didn’t have to wait in line with all of those vying for prime position in the pit, I did anyway and got to spend quite a bit of time chatting with people about our favorite artists, our KCON experiences and all sorts of fun stuff. Once I got inside, it was easy to find my seat and I, once again, enjoyed the break in all the crazy that came with waiting for the seats of the Arena to fill. (I may not have had a schedule as packed as the day before but sitting under the blazing L.A. sun for hours had taken its toll on me and I was sunburned and dehydrated and pretty much exhausted by the time the concert started and I might have spent the entire night chilling in my seat, had my inner fangirl not squealed with delight every time one of my beloved artists took the stage.)
BTS kicked off Sunday night’s concert and OHMYGOODNESS! They. Were. Amazing. Their energy was high. Their choreography was on point and they gave a performance that was out of this world. I was absolutely blown away by them and I am really, really hoping they do a U.S. tour soon because I cannot get enough of them. They’re so way beyond phenomenal, I don’t even have the words to describe them but it was a performance to remember and… Dang! Sorry but that’s all I’ve got… Just… DANG!
Jung Joon Young was next to take the stage and he was every bit as adorable as he was during his DFLA taping (and then some) but when he started singing… Oh man! My inner fangirl completely melted! Ugh! Jung Joon Young has such an incredible voice, deep with a rocky edge, and when he sings… Well I don’t know how any fangirl could resist him when he sings but when you add to that voice, his skill as a guitarist, man… He’s every rocker chick’s dream come true!
SPICA was up next and those of you who know me, even the slightest bit, know that girl groups are just not my thing so I don’t have a lot to say about them. However, they do have amazing voices, which were showcased very well that night, and their performance was solid so even if I can’t squee over them, I can respect them and applaud them for a job well done. (On a side-note, I did spend a laughable amount of time wondering if any of the SPICA girls had tried on the same shirt I’d tried on the day they went shopping at Seoula. If they did, I’m sure it looked much better on them than it did me!)
Up next was the one band who holds more sentimental value for me than any other band in the whole history of the world… CNBLUE. Yes, it was Yong Hwa’s role in You’re Beautiful that not only made me feel the first pangs of Second Lead Syndrome but led me into the wonderland of K-Pop as well, so you can imagine what it meant for me to be able to see this most beloved band in person. I was literally in fangirl heaven. Oh! I tell you… When CNBLUE stepped onto that stage and the first notes of “Can’t Stop” started playing, my inner fangirl found a whole new level of ecstasy. It was like my level of VIXX excitement the night before, with the endless smile and the tears, combined with a whole lot of sentimentality that very nearly did me in. I seriously sat there, not really sure if I could move, unable to believe that CNBLUE was actually standing right in front of me. Had Tanya been sitting next to me, I would’ve made her pinch me, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming but she wasn’t, so I just sat there, soaking it all in, dying on the inside as Yong Hwa, in all of his adorableness, danced and sang and played guitar, right. in. front. of. me. Augh! I died and went to fangirl heaven that night. It was a five song set of pure bliss and my heart broke when their time was up.
To wrap up the night, Girls’ Generation took the stage (minus one member) and I know that for so. many. people. it was the set they were most looking forward to but again, I’m just not into girl groups so I just watched them perform in a kind of fangirl stupor, still trying to recover from have just seen CNBLUE in the flesh. I suppose I would have enjoyed SNSD more, had I been able to actually see them but the dude sitting next to me decided that he needed to be as close to the girls as possible, which meant he walked to the front of our section and just stood there, blocking the view for everyone unfortunate enough to have a seat behind him. What made it worse was the number of fans who decided to follow suit and before I knew it, my lovely view of the stage was gone and I was forced to watch the giant screens in the corners of the Arena, instead of the actual performance. A bummer way to end an otherwise amazing weekend but what can you do? I caught glimpses here and there and the awesomeness of having just seen BTS, Jung Joon Young and CNBLUE was enough to make me forget my SNSD woes.
With the concert over, it was time to find Tanya and as many other friends as I could, to say my farewells as the end of KCON meant the end of my adventures with most of them. I’m so happy I was able to find Sue and her daughter and Lindsay and Emmie and so many others after the concert, as we had so much to squee over before we finally said our good-byes. KCON wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if I hadn’t had so many wonderfully lovely people to share it with. Seriously, all of you. Old friends and new. You’re what made my trip to L.A. and KCON so much fun and I can’t tell you enough, how wonderful it is and how privileged I am to be able to call you all my friends. I LOVE YOU CHINGUS!
When the squeeing finally came to an end, it was time to say our good-byes and Ugh! My heart broke then. I really hate good-byes, especially when you have to say them to people you know you may never actually meet again. (Sure, you’ll find them on Twitter or Facebook or whatever but we all know that’s just not the same as meeting in person.) But I suppose it’s like Winnie the Pooh says, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I really am one of the luckiest zombies in the world and having so many friends to bid farewell to on that last night of KCON proved it. My only regret, out of all of my KCON adventures, was not hugging Sue goodbye before we parted ways. I don’t know what happened but somehow she got away from me before hugs could happen and I’ve kicked myself a thousands time over for that. (So Sue, beware! The next time I see you, there will be hugs galore! Consider yourself warned! Haha!)
Leaving KCON that night, I felt such a jumbled and confusing mixture of emotions. I was still on my concert high so I was happy and excited but at the same time, I was so sad it was over and I really didn’t want to leave all of my friends. I was also exhausted beyond belief which just put all of my emotions into overdrive so I was pretty much a mess as I trudged my way back to the car. Trying not to think too much, I instead focused on finding us something to eat and with it being so late on a Sunday night, there weren’t a lot of options open so it was back to Iota. Unfortunately our second experience at Iota wasn’t anything like the first and with a kitchen closed and them being out of every dessert we wanted to eat, we decided to try our luck elsewhere. Funny thing is, you’re desperate when you haven’t eaten all day (which was Tanya’s case) and as we wandered the streets of K-Town, looking for food, I spotted a Pho restaurant across the street and we made a beeline for the noodles. (Oh what a lovely bowl of noodles that was!) With tummies full, it was back to the hotel to crash once again and I fell asleep that night with my head full of idols, friends and fun that can only come from spending one glorious weekend at KCON.