Once again, my inability to schedule a flight that didn’t leave at an ungodly hour made my last day in New York span 2 but that’s okay. Having run myself into complete exhaustion on Friday, I had no problem sleeping until 8 Saturday morning which meant I was more than ready to take on the 30+ hours of awesome that lay before me. All I had to do was jump out of bed and get crackin’. Which is exactly what I did.
Getting back to the Prudential Center bright and early Saturday morning, I got to spend the entire morning doing the one thing I love most: spend time with my friends. My one panel of the weekend was scheduled for late Saturday afternoon and all of my artist engagement passes had been for Friday so I got to spend the entire day on Saturday doing nothing more than wandering the grounds, enjoying all that KCON had to offer, with some of the people I love most in this whole world.
Saturday morning, I got to spend my time with the same pair of friends I’d spent the concert with Friday night. Having an entire year’s worth of life to catch up on, we talked and laughed and basically just enjoyed each other’s company as we wandered all over the grounds of the Prudential Center. Of course we had to stop at every booth offering free goodies along the way… Which meant we stopped at them all. As we passed the KCON TV booth, we happened to come across GoToe as he was doing an interview and I just couldn’t pass up the chance to record a little bit. I mean he was dancing to Psy’s “New Face” and all and well… Some things just need to be recorded for posterity!
Sadly, my time with my friends went by all too quickly. Before I knew it, it was time for them to head back home. After many hugs and promises to keep in touch, we parted ways. Winding my way back through the massive crowd, I headed for the one place where I knew I’d be able to find a bit of A/C and a place to charge my phone. The press room! Yeah, I know. I’m a cheater, using my badge to cool off and charge up but what’s the point of being press if you can’t enjoy some of the perks? Even better than having a place to chill and recharge is knowing that walking into the press room almost always guarantees running into more friends and this time was no exception. Of course, with many badges comes many responsibilities and pretty soon all of us were off and running, going this way and that. While my friends were running off to do all that super-important official stuff that makes them so much cooler than I am, I ran off to… Well to be perfectly honest, I set off to wander around and take photos of the convention but what I ended up doing was running into UP10TION. As in, almost literally.
Yup! You read that right! You know how I talked about randomly being at the right place at the right time on Friday and having HIGHLIGHT walk right past me? Well, this was another one of those random yet incredibly awesome times that can only ever happen at a place like KCON. As I was walking out of the Prudential Center Saturday afternoon, UP10TION was just leaving the Toyota tent where, I’m assuming, they’d just had a whole fan interaction thing like KNK had done the day before, and somehow we ended up passing at just the right moment. I honestly didn’t even realize what was going on at first so I kind of missed a few of the guys as they walked past me, but I did managed to pull out my phone fast enough to record some of them. I think if I’d left a couple of seconds later, I really would have run into them and how awkward would that have been??? o_O
The even funnier thing was, that this wasn’t the only time I almost ran into an idol that day! Later in the afternoon, I was walking from the green room towards the panel tents when who should suddenly cross my path out of nowhere? Why, Kevin Woo, of course! It was just him and maybe his manager or a coordi or I don’t know who it was, but the two of them were headed inside the Prudential Center just as I was about to walk past the door and I was so busy checking my phone, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be and when, that I almost ran into them. Lucky for me, I heard people shouting hi at Kevin before he got close enough for me to actually run into him, so I didn’t make a complete fool out of myself. But I did just kind of stop in the middle of the sidewalk and watch him smile and wave at his fans before dashing off inside, right in front of me. It was a very funny moment to me, for some odd reason, and certainly one I’ll never forget. I mean it’s not every day you almost run into Kevin Woo!
Though now that I think about it. Saturday was just a day full of randomly running into people. I mean I found GoToe at the KCON TV booth that morning. Then I almost ran into UP10TION and Kevin Woo that afternoon. As I was wandering around the grounds later in the day, I got to meet Sunny Park from Sunny’s Channel and the Korea Bros, not to mention all the amazing people who just randomly walked up to me just to say hi. (Believe it or not, I still have a very hard time believing there are people out there who actually know me as no one other than Zombie Mamma, so when people come up to me and say hi, it tends to throw me for a loop. It’s a good loop, don’t get me wrong. It’s just kinda weird. In a good way. Oh I should probably just shut up and get back to writing. Which isn’t really shutting up… Oh good grief!)
Back to wandering around KCON on Saturday… With my fellow K-Pop Tater Tot beside me (aka Young Ajummah) we explored all that KCON had to offer. Stopping to chat with friends, vendors, fellow K-Pop and drama fans, basically anyone who was willing to take a few second to chat. We visited vendor booths, took photos, explored pretty much everything and had so much fun, we were almost late getting to our panel that afternoon! Running over to the panel tents just in time, we sat down with our fellow panelists, Chunkeemonkeeato and Joan Voss Macdonald to discuss The Next K-Drama Star.
Now I’m know I’m pretty biased when I’m say this but this year’s panel was one of the most fun I’ve been a part of. Getting together with some amazing people, to talk about all of the up-and-coming actors and actresses who are currently making waves in the Korean drama industry, is awesome all on its own. But then to have so many people come to our panel and not only fill those seats but actually join us for this conversation… Well, you just can’t ask for anything better! With so much great material to talk about and so many in the audience excited and happy to participate, the hour we spent together went by so quickly. I can easily say that this panel was the highlight of my entire KCON 2017 NY experience and my only regret is that I had to run away as soon as the panel ended because I was already 15 minutes late to the Red Carpet press check-in. (Don’t worry, I had made arrangements ahead of time to check in as soon as my panel was over but those arrangements involved running and sweating and a very big need for water once I got to where I needed to be.) I did get to meet a couple of people before all that running and to those of you who took the time to come up to me and say hi afterwards, all I can say is, it was an honor to meet you! I’m so happy you took a minute to come up and say hi! I really hope that next time we’ll have more time to talk and I won’t have to run away like a crazy person.
Crazy as I am, I did make it to the Red Carpet on time, I did manage to get some pretty decent pictures. I did finally get them edited and up for ATK Magazine (which you can find here). From there it was off to the concert to squeal my little fangirl self silly over TWICE and UP10TION and NCT 127 and CNBLUE. It was a good concert and at some point there were tears (because this is CN-frickin’-BLUE we’re talking about here… The very reason I made this decent into madness all those years ago…) and if you want to know my thoughts on the whole entire concert you can read those here.
After the concert I said goodbye to friends from far and wide and meet up with those I would be spending my last few hours with in New York. Taking a very scenic, relaxing, trip across Manhattan with a friend should be the way every trip to New York ends. Stopping to grab a drink at a place along the riverfront, we spent who knows how long, talking and laughing while we enjoyed the cool breeze and the beautiful Manhattan skyline. From there we lazily made our way to my friend’s neighborhood diner to grab a bite before I headed off to the airport. I have to say, there’s nothing that warms your soul quite like a piping hot bowl of soup and a good friend. Again, time passed without us knowing so much so that by the time we left the diner, it was practically time for me to leave. A quick stop at her house to freshen up a bit and say our last goodbyes was all that stood between me and the hour-long subway ride to the airport. And boy was that an adventure!
It’s kind of disappointing, trading such a soul-warming experience for one that leaves you rather… Um… Grossed out? I’ll spare you the details but let me just say, I couldn’t finish my trip without changing seats and if I could leave you all with a single word of advice please, please, PLEASE, don’t ever take public transportation if you’re so drunk you can’t sit without falling over. Or don’t let your drunk friends go home that way either? Please! There are some experiences I’d rather not have and that was definitely one of them! At least I made it to the airport unscathed and untarnished. (Barely…)
Safely back in the land of travel-weary zombies (aka, the airport) I checked myself in and breezed through security in less than 5 minutes. (Believe it or not, there’s not much of a line at 3 in the morning!) Having traversed the vast expanse of JFK before, I knew I had about a zillion mile walk ahead of me. What my overly exhausted, must have coffee now, can’t think anymore brain didn’t remember was just how deserted the place was that early in the morning. (It also didn’t remember that no coffee shops were open that early and that ugly reality hit me so hard I almost started to cry!) However, after doing my best zombie impression for about a half hour or so, signs of life started to appear and lo! A semi-open coffee shop came into view! All of heaven’s angels sang songs of rejoicing as I took that first sip of life-giving brew and suddenly, I found the strength to continue on my epic quest to find Gate B42.
Funny thing was, all life disappeared again as soon as that coffee shop disappeared from view and once again I felt like I was walking straight into a scene from some horrifying zombie flick. I swear, I was expecting to see Gong Yoo come running down the empty terminal, straight at me, with a massive horde of ravenous zombies chasing him, at any second. (In case you didn’t notice, my over-active imagine gets even more over-active when it’s tired and also, I scare really easily. So much so, that sometimes, I end up scaring myself in my own head.) To keep myself from getting too freaked out, I started listening to music. Jonghyun’s She Is album, to be exact, and I got so caught up in the music that without realizing it, I started dancing my way down the terminal. Looking back on the whole thing, I really hope the place was as deserted as I imagined it to be because if it wasn’t… Well, I’d rather not think about that.
After dancing my way to the escalator, the rest of my airport adventures are pretty hum-drum. My gate lay waiting for me at the bottom of those magic moving stairs so I grabbed a seat, whipped out my book and killed the hours until my flight left my reading all about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy own not-so-wild adventures. I did somehow get an upgraded seat on the way home, for which I was very much appreciative. And once I got home, I realized the only thing I’d really eaten for the past 2 days were frickin’ sandwiches so I hijacked the car when hubs came to pick me up and drove to H-Mart, where I proceeded to order and devour a giant bowl of yukgaejang (육개장) at 9 in the morning. I’m pretty sure the guy behind the counter was wondering what the heck this crazy white lady was doing, ordering that so early in the morning but you know what? I didn’t care! It was so nice to eat real food! I even got little bungeoppang (붕어빵) which I had intended to take home for the littles but I ended up eating them on the way home. Oops!
Back in Chicago, my KCON 2017 NY adventures officially came to an end. As one might expect, when I got home, I crashed and crashed HARD. But it was so worth it! It had been a weekend full of amazing experiences, incredible friends and unexpected adventures. Needless to say, KCON 2017 NY will be one of the many moments in my life that I will never, ever forget.