KCON 2022 Recap
A review of this year’s KCON and what made it so memorable!
KCON 2022 in Los Angeles was not just a particularly special occasion due to marking the K-culture convention’s ten-year anniversary, but also because of its massive reach. CJ ENM, the parent company of KCON, confirmed that over 90,000 fans attended this year! Events that were live-streamed gained an additional audience of 7.17 million from over 176 regions worldwide.
Both established A-tier and rising artists made this year’s convention and concerts ones for the history books. Stars old and new were celebrated, with plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with rookie artists and more popular acts alike. From panel discussions with celebrated journalists and influencers to celebrity participation in dance challenges, KCON was full of nonstop access to the stars.
In addition to a jam-packed event schedule, there was much to see and shop for at different booths. The amount of merchandise available for purchase was absolutely enormous, and free samples and giveaways were also found in abundance.
On top of all this, the convention hall had lots of games, photo walls, places to write fan letters, a designated fan club meet-up area, and a nonstop dance party.
As if all this wasn’t exciting enough, the attendees themselves were a sight to behold! There were unique spins put on fashion trends, creative ways of wearing merch, and impressive tributes to specific K-pop music videos. Whether opting for everyday style inspiration or full-on cosplaying, convention-goers dressed to impress. The “come as you are” message of the unofficial dress code echoed the same sentiment as other aspects of the convention. The weekend was a celebration of the time and commitment K-pop and K-culture fans put into their passion for these interests. Embracing one’s fandom identity was beyond welcomed; it was encouraged and the norm.
The variety and quantity of things to see and do at KCON this year was immense, and the head-spinning stimulation carried over into the lengthy concert that capped off both Saturday’s and Sunday’s schedules. Day one’s show featured performances of original songs from ATEEZ, CRAVITY, ENHYPEN, INI, ITZY, Kep1er, LIGHTSUM, and Stray Kids. In classic KCON fashion, there were also tributes to other K-pop acts through creative song covers. This mix of fresh new songs and homages to older ones was the core appeal of day two’s show too, which featured performances by LOONA, NCT DREAM, NMIXX, P1Harmony, STAYC, THE BOYZ, TO1, and WJSN.
The dance team from UC Berkeley deserves a shoutout for their pre-show performance: a detailed, intense dance routine set to a medley of both underrated and classic K-pop songs. Giving shine to “ZOO” by SMTOWN artists was particularly appreciated.
Even those who entered the Los Angeles Convention Center for a different reason this past weekend had exciting itineraries. The producers behind audition show GIRLS PLANET 999 held in-person auditions for BOYS PLANET, a new show set to premiere in 2023. Also, a marketing summit was held titled “Road to Success in K-Content Marketing.” Featured speakers included UCLA Professor Suk-Young Kim, Penn State University Professor Sam Richards, Head of Marketing at TikTok Korea Sunah Baek, and K-lifestyle influencer Joan Kim.
Don Kim, General Manager of Live Entertainment Business at CJ ENM, issued the following statement:
“KCON first started in 2012 with 10,000 attendees. Now, KCON has established itself as the world's No. 1 K-culture festival, and we’re thrilled to be finally returning in person. As we are getting back on track to normal, KCON will continue to pioneer the spread of K-culture around the world. KCON’s next stop is Japan in October, so please look forward to that.”
Should there ever come an unfortunate day when a return to a virtual-only KCON (known as “KCON:TACT”) is in order, Don Kim ought not to worry: KCON:TACT reached an audience of 22.45 million over the last two years!
Overall, KCON and all related events this year made clear why K-culture has the reach that it does, how vast the plethora of K-content to appreciate truly is, how uplifting and exciting K-pop fan meet-ups can be, and why CJ ENM’s signature convention is a bucket list item for many.
Congratulations to CJ ENM and the entire team behind KCON for another successful year, and special thanks to them for letting me cover this incredible event!
Much more 17 Carat K-Pop KCON coverage is on the way!
An upcoming episode of 17 Carat K-Pop will cover the highlights and lowlights of this year’s KCON, an in-depth review of different parts of the experience, takeaways to keep in mind when attending KCON in the future, and more! Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts (or here) and turn on notifications to not miss it!
Also, additional KCON images, videos, and panel conversation summaries will be released as newsletter posts, so make sure to subscribe!
Cosplay photos are my own; all other photos courtesy of CJ ENM and KCON USA.