Waking up far earlier than I would have liked (thank you stupid 2 hour time difference) I was up long before anyone else in the house which would have been awful, if not for the fact I really needed to get some work done. (A sad thing to admit for someone who would normally never work when friends are around.) But with KCON only a day away and interview questions to be written, I wasted no time in getting to work. By the time the rest of the house began to stir, my work was done and it was time to focus on more important things. Like breakfast.
Normally I’m not much of a breakfast person. I never have been which, I’m sure, may seem weird to some people, but breakfast has just never been my thing. I’m not usually hungry when I first get up and I’m really not a fan of most traditional American breakfast foods because they’re too sweet and just… blech. However, when it’s 10:30 or so and your friends suggest stopping by a Chinese restaurant to grab some dumplings for breakfast before heading to Koreatown for the day… Well, that’s an offer I just can’t refuse!
Piling into the car, the four of us set off, ready for a day full of adventure and dumplings. Oh! The dumplings! I wish I could describe to you just how amazing the dumplings were at Mama Lu’s Dumpling House but words fail me. Being their specialty, we all agreed that ordering as many different dumplings as possible and then sharing them all was definitely the way to go. So that’s what we did. Settled in our little booth, our table was soon overflowing with the most amazingly delicious food you could ever hope to eat. Juicy pork dumplings. Spicy wonton. Pan fried buns. Hot and sour soup. Green onion fried pancake. Beef chow fun… It felt as if the food was never-ending and each and every dish was so beyond incredible, I could have sat there eating forever. Or at least until I exploded. But I didn’t. Instead we decided that since we were going to Koreatown anyway, we’d stop by the LA Convention Center really quick and get our KCON registration done so we wouldn’t have to mess with it on Friday morning. So off we went!
What sounded like a good idea at the breakfast table proved to be otherwise in real life. Arriving at the convention center right around the time registration opened, we marveled at how long the line was already. Knowing there wasn’t much we could do about that (and that the line would only get longer as the day went on), we decided we might as well take our place in line and get this most painful part of the KCON experience out of the way. If all went well, we’d spend an hour or two getting through registration and then be on our way. But things didn’t go well. At all. With KCON’s computer system down and a few hundred people in line in front of us, it took us 6 hours to get through registration. That’s right. Six. Flipping. Hours.
As awful as it was to endure six hours in a line that barely moved, there were some good points to being at the convention center that day. Not being confined to the line myself (one of the perks of being a panelist) I was free to wander which gave me quite a bit of time to catch up with several of my friends and colleagues, some of whom I’d reunited with at KCON NY and others I’d not met up with since KCON 2015. It was great, being able to chat with them about life and work and whatnot, which isn’t something we usually have a lot of time to do during KCON, seeing as how we’re all so insanely busy during the convention itself. I also ran (quite by coincidence) into a group of girls whom I had met at the airport while waiting for BTS’ arrival back in 2014. I nearly fell out of my chair when they turned to me and asked if I was me because, quite honestly, I never expect anyone to ever remember me.
With so many people to chat with, time passed… Well, I can’t say time passed quickly, but it passed nonetheless and I made as much as I could out of those seemingly endless hours. At some point during the course of the afternoon, my friend Lola and I set out on a quest for coffee. Trekking across the many halls of the convention center, we eventually ended up at L.A. Live where we discovered the very same Starbucks which had been our source of life-giving caffeine last year. On the way back to the endless lines of misery, I ran into more friends, totally by coincidence, and had a chance to catch up with them as the iced tea I was supposed to be delivering to my parched friends melted in the hot California sun. Yeah… I may not be the best beverage runner in the world but at least I get a few points for trying. Right?
The only other really entertaining part of the whole registration experience was being able to watch all of the trading for artist engagements. It’s the KCON version of the NY Stock Exchange, a tradition that, let’s be honest, borders dangerously close to insanity, but at the same time it’s always so much fun to watch! I’m always amazed at how well-prepared people are when it comes to these trades. Signs advertising high-touches for sale and high-touches wanted pop up as if by magic and like moths to a flame, people flock to them, desperate to buy, sell and/or trade, for the artist engagements they want most. I have to admit, I find myself in awe of those who are able to walk away from these exchanges with the artist engagements they want; mostly because I’ve never had much luck. (I’ve actually resigned myself to the fact that I will never experience a KCON high-touch. Which is fine. *sniff* Really. *sniff* I’m fine.)
Once my friends finally made it through registration the rest of our day was pretty much shot. Not willing to entirely give up on our dreams of shopping in Koreatown, we headed that way but our growling stomachs demanded that we grab dinner before we ventured anywhere else. With Korean fried chicken as our goal, we headed to The Gangjung to fill our rumbling tummies with all manner of deliciousness. From there it was over to the bookstore where my friend managed to find the very last copy of BTS’ The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever just for me. Woot!
Despite the fact we’d just stuffed ourselves on chicken, we decided bingsu would be the perfect way to end our day. However we first had to stop by Paris Baguette to pick up some goodies for breakfast, which took some time because seriously, how can a person be expected to buy just one thing!?! With breakfast for tomorrow taken care of, we headed to the bingsu shop only to find that the wait time to get in was ridiculous! Having our fill of lines for the day, we decided it’d be better to just head home and chill the rest of the day. So that’s exactly what we did. At least until my eyes decided being closed was more important than chatting with my friends. Taking that as a hint I might need sleep, I headed to bed, excited by the fact that after an entire year of waiting and dreaming, KCON 2016 LA was about to become a reality.