Once again I found myself awake and some ungodly hour but rather than spend the next couple of hours drooling over the pretty posters I was surrounded by, I decided it’d be better for me to just get up and get ready for the day. Knowing I was going to be speaking in front of who knows how many people in a matter of hours, I spent a rather embarrassing amount of time trying to pull a miraculously fabulous outfit out of my suitcase. I failed on the fabulous but I did managed to put something together that met with the approval of my “stylists.” (Aka my group of Chicago friends who remind me, on an almost daily basis, that I’m not nearly as hideous as I believe I am… Oh, what would I do without them?) With an outfit agreed upon I got myself put together in a reasonable amount of time, as did everyone else in the house, and before I knew it, we were off! Headed for downtown L.A. and the first official day of KCON. Woohoo!
Well, we didn’t head straight to the convention center. We first stopped for gas and coffee because if you know anything about me at all, you know coffee is a must. Now I know some of you may turn your nose up at a cup of gas station coffee but when it comes to coffee, I’m not exactly picky and it’s a good thing I’m not! Had I been a picky coffee drinker, I would have missed out on one of life’s most overlooked pleasures and that would have been so sad! Thanks to Sue’s daughter, however, I was introduced to the wonderful world of vanilla cappuccinos topped with miniature marshmallows. Needless to say, my life has been changed forever.
With life-altering coffee in hand, it really was time to head to the convention center and I’m not gonna lie, the butterflies were real as we found our parking spot and began walking towards the door that would take us to North America’s Hallyu mecca. I think rather than being nervous, I was just amazed that KCON was finally here. After months of planning and anticipating, the moment everything came together and the doors to the convention were opened, the reality of it all suddenly hit me and being the spazz that I am, I found myself feeling just a tad excited. Needless to say, the excitement only grew as I joined the excitedly buzzing sea of people waiting for the official start of one amazing, Hallyu-filled weekend.
Getting to the convention center a good hour before the “doors” officially opened allowed me plenty of time to wander around (find a bathroom), meet up with some long-lost friends (Brandon! It was so good to see you for about half a second!) and get stopped by a random adorable fellow fangirl who stopped me just long enough to ask me if I was me before bobbing along with her equally adorable friend. It was a very sudden and totally unexpected meeting and it took me so by surprise I didn’t really have time to react. I did, however, tell her I loved her custom-made, Yugyeom inspired GOT7 shirt (which was so cute!) and walked away completely flabbergasted that anyone other than my friends would know who I am. (And on the off-chance that adorable girl ends up reading this, I just want you to know that you totally made my day! Thank you!)
With my half-second of fame out of the way, it was time for the official start of KCON and Sue, Lola and I were off to wander the marketplace, do a little shopping and pick up our official KCON “swag bags.” Ooooh! (Yeah, that was totally sarcastic! Those bags weren’t worth the time we wasted standing in line to get them.) Still, the K-Pop booth was totally worth the time spent in line and I managed to buy a copy of Monsta X’s “Trespass” and Uniq’s “EOEO” for my friend’s (belated) birthday present before they all sold out. (I’m so bad celebrating anything on time! I suck as a friend.)
With albums safely stowed in that most useless of swag bags (okay, it did eventually become useful… It was a great place to stash all my marketplace goodies) I wandered the marketplace, just soaking it all in. With 119 different companies operating booths in the marketplace, you can imagine there was quite a lot to take in. I don’t think I wandered even half of it before I had to go fulfill my “official” panelist duties but I did manage to snag a free sample of Coke, some Bibigo samples, a ramen sample… Okay, yes. I visited all the food booths, just for the samples! Isn’t that what everyone does when they’re at KCON???
Samples aside, my friends and I were approached by the traveling TvN spokesman who gave us all the most delicious smelling coffee bean air fresheners I have ever had the pleasure of sniffing. It was all in promotion of TvN’s newest reality food show, “Three Meals A Day” and I have to say, that handful of coffee beans in a tiny burlap bag was enough to win me over! I’m a fan of the show and I’ve never even watched it! (I guess I should probably check it out now that I said that…) I also managed to snag a poster for the drama The Scholar Who Walks in the Night simply because I was asked to like MBC on Facebook. When I pulled out my phone and showed the nice man that I already liked both MBC and MBC America, his eyes got as big as saucers and he just handed me the poster with a chuckle. Apparently running into someone who already knows about your broadcasting company is a big deal when… you’re… set up at a convention… solely dedicated all things Korean… (Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought.)
After spending a good hour or so in the marketplace it was time for me to step into my more “professional” role and throw my two cents into the discussion at the “Shower Scenes to Wrist-Grabs” panel. Being the slightly drama-obsesses zombie that I am, spending an hour talking about the most loved and hated drama tropes in the K-Dramaverse is pretty easy, especially when you’ve got a lovely group of fellow drama-loving panelists and an audience more than ready to jump into the discussion. Needless to say, the hour went by quickly and I think, judging by the amount of laughter that filled the room, everyone in the audience has as much fun at this panel as I did.
After the panel I stopped to chat with people, talking drama and hair and anything else that came to mind. One of the best parts of being a panelist is the chance you have to meet people you might not otherwise meet and I love nothing more than having people come up to me and just start chatting like we’re old friends. It’s really so much fun! Well it is until your stomach growls so loudly people notice… By the time my panel ended my early morning cup of life-changing coffee and ramen sample had finally run out and I found myself in need of food.
Meeting up with my friends, we headed to the food trucks parked outside the convention center and found that pretty much everything had been sold out. Undeterred by the general lack of food on the menu I settled for a basket of fries because why not? (I felt like I was back in high school, eating fries for lunch every day… No judging.) Though the food may not have been the most amazing ever, the chance to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year was. I can’t tell you how much fun we had, the lot of us, reminiscing over past concerts and talking about the ones we were looking forward to (namely Saturday night’s).
By the time we were done eating, it was time for us to go our separate ways. With some headed for Klub KCON and other headed for the hotel, we said our goodbyes and off we went. Being the non-dancer that I am, Klub KCON was not my thing so I opted to spend my evening with Tanya at the same Korean spa we’d spent the night at last year. I guess I really must be old or something because the idea of dozing off in an over-heated ball pit for grown-ups and eating a ridiculous amount of Korean food sounded so much better to me than catching a 5 second glimpse of Monsta X at KCON’s one-day-only club. (If I’m not old yet then maybe I’m just lame… Or very, very tired… Maybe both?)
Whatever the case may be, a quick taxi ride later Tanya and I were checking into the spa and all the stress and excitement of the day melted away as I baked myself in a 200 degree human oven. *sigh* If you’ve never found the courage to visit a Korean spa, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. It is seriously one of the most amazing places on Earth and I visit the one here in Chicago on a fairly regular basis. However the Wi Spa in L.A. is a special one for me and it was nice to be back. Meeting up with one of Tanya’s friends at the spa, the three of us spent the evening visiting the different rooms, talking and laughing and just having fun. Of course you can’t visit a Korean spa without eating the food and oh man! Did we ever eat! Between the three of us we covered our section of the table in food and we ate it all! Well, we did our best anyway and then, after a couple more trips to the various saunas, we came back for bingsu.
I have no idea how long we were actually at the spa but by the time we got back to our hotel, our roommates were sound asleep and it didn’t take long for us to follow suit. My first day of KCON had left me happy but exhausted, which really, is the best way to sum up my entire weekend. But more on that later…