I can’t believe KCON 2017 NY is only 2 days away! It feels like only yesterday I was dreaming of what this year’s convention would be like and now, here I am, just days away from experiencing it for myself. It still feels like a dream but I’m not about to ask anyone to pinch me. I’d like to stay in this dream for as long as I possibly can. To keep the KCON dream going for as long as possible, I’m going to introduce you to another KCON 2017 Special Guest, Chunkeemonkeeato. Woohoo!
One of the perks of doing what I do is getting to meet amazing people like Chunkeemonkeeato. People who share your passion and understand your love of all things Hallyu. Having been on several different panels with Chunkeemonkeeato over the years, I can honestly say there’s not anyone I know whose more invested in the world of Hallyu, especially when it comes to dramas. Seriously, she’s like the K-drama guru, the one who knows it all. There’s nothing I love more than listening to her talk about dramas, especially when she delves into the mostly unfamiliar world of older (as in pre-Hallyu wave) dramas, and gleaning from her wisdom. With such vast knowledge of the K-Drama world, I’m honored to be able to introduce you to her today.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? Who you are, what work you do in the world of Hallyu, where can people find you on the inter-webs, etc.
I’m Chunkeemonkeeato and have been running a blog called “Musing of a Chunkeemonkeeato” since 2011. As I’m the person who was typically recommending new shows and movies to my friends, I thought it would be great to have a place where a collection of reviews can be found for K-Dramas, K-Movies, other movies and American and British dramas.
How did you first get into Hallyu? What first drew you in? What solidified your passion or sealed the deal, so to speak?
As a Korean-American, I got started in K-Dramas and K-Pop in the 90’s, before it was actually called Hallyu. I just became more interested in the Korean part of my culture. Growing up in NY, I was thankful to access to K-Drama and K-Pop through video rental stores, book and cd stores and other Korean people. Koreans defined binge-watching before it actually became a thing as we used to line up VHS tapes from the video rental stores and watch them all night long.
What’s your favorite drama and/or K-Pop group? Who’s your favorite actor? Favorite group? Favorite idol?
There was a moment where I gave up on K-Dramas simply because I was busy with school and work. I’ve never seen the “Seasons” dramas (e.g. Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata…) which really launched the concept of Hallyu. However, the drama that brought me back to Korean entertainment was Coffee Prince. I loved the drama, the music, the cast. However, my favorite actor is probably Lee Je Hoon from Signal. Ever since first I saw him in the movies, Bleak Night and Just Friends?, I have not missed anything that he’s been in.
For my favorite K-Pop group, I would be remiss if I didn’t say R.ef, a K-Pop group from the 90’s. If Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji from Answer Me 1997) was obsessed with H.O.T, then I was obsessed with R.ef and would go to the ends of the earth to be with them. Today, there are just so many more groups out there and to be honest, I listen to K-Indie music a lot more than I do K-Pop but I’m quite partial to Beast, ahem, Highlight. Their music is just so catchy and whenever I’m at karaoke, you’ll find me singing one of their songs.
Since first jumping into this Hallyu Wave, do you have a favorite moment or memory? Is there one moment that sticks out as special? Something that makes you say, “Yes, this is why I love Hallyu!” Would you mind sharing?
There weren’t many opportunities to see your favorite K-Pop stars live in the 90’s. I saw R.ef perform live as part of the Chuseok Festival Concert one year, which is a free concert that they used to hold annually in Flushing Meadow Park. Still on cloud nine after seeing them, I couldn’t stop thinking about them on the train ride home. I knew that there was a famous Korean restaurant in my neighborhood so I made the decision to bypass my stop and get off at the following stop on the off-chance that they were eating there. When I got off on the stop, I saw that a giant tour bus was waiting out front and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked the parking valets who told some of the fans there that it was, in fact, R.ef on the bus after ordering their meals to go. The manager saw me and took pity on me and allowed me on the bus and that’s how I got signatures from all of the members, which I still have today. It was definitely one experience that I would never forget. I regret not asking for a picture but frankly, I was just too nervous to ask.
As one who’s going to be taking part in KCON 2017, what is it you’ll be doing? Where will people be able to find you? Will you be in NY or LA or both?
This year, I will only be taking part in KCON NY. I am moderating the “The Next K-Drama Star” panel talking with my fellow panelists about who we see should be keeping an eye out for in K-Dramaland. My hope is that we will be able to introduce a lesser known actor/actress with incredible talent.
Is there something you’re really looking forward to during this year’s convention?
I am interested in checking out some of the other panels, such as “What Type of K-Pop Fan Are You?” and “Cross Cultural Clashes in Hallyu”. Otherwise, you can probably find me checking out the various booths and just taking in the whole experience.
Do you have any advice for those who might be attending KCON for the first time? Any words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Wear comfortable shoes. Put on sunscreen and reapply. Drink plenty of liquids. Sounds silly but it’s a long day. However, I think the most important thing is to be friendly, say hello and make friends. Events like KCON is about standing hours in line and the time will go by faster if you get to know the fans around you. You already know that you have something in common with them, right?
If you’re going to be at KCON this weekend, be sure to stop by Chunkeemonkeeato’s panel Saturday afternoon. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great one. (No, I’m not biased here at all…) Also, don’t forget that you can ask Chunkeemonkeeato (or any of the other KCON 2017 Special Guests) questions via the official KCON app. Of course if you’d like to hear more from Chunkeemonkeeato, be sure to check out her blog at: chunkeemonkeeato.wordpress.com.