javabeans: So, KCON. Omg, KCON. My body is still in recovery from this weekend, although to be fair, that could just be age. (And the drinking. And the whole cow we ate.)
girlfriday: Or was it all the Learn to Dance Like Your Idol workshopping you did on the sly while we weren’t looking?
javabeans: HA. I laugh at the very notion of me doing any sort of dancing in that blistering heat. I was melting just standing there. All you hardcore fans who had to wait in that monster line for hours have my respect and sympathy horror.
girlfriday: Seriously, that line was insane.
javabeans: Maybe we should back up and talk about our Friday night meetup first, to be all organized about this. Well, more organized than a rambling free-for-all, which is probably how this post will end.
girlfriday: As all our conversations in real life do? Anyway, so we had our meetup at K-town Plaza (where we arrived early and went CD shopping at the music store like the good old days) and lo and behold, people showed up!
javabeans: I was fully prepared for it to be the four of us sitting there for a few hours nursing a single cup of coffee while weathering stinkeye from the ajusshis working the joint, but as it turns out, we fully earned those stinkeyes by crowding the plaza till we were kicked out. Nothing says overstaying our welcome like grumpy employees literally chaining the doors shut on you.
girlfriday: Closing out a mall doesn’t exactly have the same cool factor as closing out a bar, but hey, we turn everything into our own party.
javabeans: Thankfully coolness has never been our concern. Drama geeks unite!
girlfriday: It was really fun to meet all of you from different places, each with crazy drama stories of your own. I felt this at the NY meetup too, but it’s always nice when you hear people exclaim, “There are other people like ME?”
javabeans: Which is pretty much the perfect way to describe the Dramabeans experience. Maybe our new tagline should be “Dramabeans: Normalizing the K-drama Obsession.” ‘Cause I’m not gonna try to argue that our brand of addiction is healthy, but hey, at least it’s not weird!
girlfriday: And that extended to KCON as well. Fandom, I realized, is pretty universal that way.
javabeans: I do think that’s one of my favorite aspects about events like KCON and meetups—the way you can leave behind that sheepishness, or the feeling of having to qualify your interests to people who just Don’t Get It. You can leave behind the explanations and just jump right into the whole enthusiasm-fervor-fun of the experience. So you get to start the conversation at “Omg, how much do you wish Kim Woo-bin were hosting the concert?” and not stopping to intro it with “Have you heard of Hallyu? No? K-pop? You know, Gangnam Style?”
girlfriday: Yeah and it was pretty incredible to see that on such a massive scale. I mean, I knew in my mind there would be a lot of people, but there were a LOT of people.
javabeans: So many that some of you were STILL stuck in that line from hell when our panel got going, despite having gotten there four hours early. *sadface* To be fair, I think our co-panelist PD might have gotten lost in that line too.
girlfriday: Or the LA traffic. It’s a toss-up.
javabeans: Moving on to the panel itself, I totally had a blast up there—that’s what we love best, shooting the breeze talking about dramas with people who love dramas.
girlfriday: Yeah, give us a mic and we’ll talk forever. Preferably two, so we can cut each other off—
javabeans: —without me yanking the mic out of your hands? (See what I did there.) Yes, that definitely helps keep us civilized. The moderated portion of the panel was a lot about the popularity of Korean dramas worldwide, why we thought it appealed to so many, how fan responses directly affect drama production, and things like that. We have covered those topics in some form on this site, but it’s always interesting to approach it from a different angle. For instance, not assuming that everyone already knows everything about dramas and is coming at it as a general fan of Hallyu.
girlfriday: Though judging by the discussion we had and the kinds of questions we got from the crowd, everyone there had done their fair share of drama watching. We talked about the industry backdrop and the unique appeal (and craziness) of the live-shoot system, and the winning formulas that get repeated in dramaland for good reason. And the pretty pretty boys. They really had to twist our arms to talk about that.
javabeans: Plus, our co-panelist Sean Richard had a lot of really interesting and thoughtful things to say as well, particularly from his unique perspective behind the scenes. Didn’t you love how someone asked about how a flower boy becomes a popular star, and the panel just basically turned to Sean and went, “Yes, tell us what that was like”? (Our answer for that, and also to the question of whether idol stars face prejudice, was basically that the pretties/idols may encounter unfair resistance, but they also benefit greatly by getting opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have, so it’s up to them to prove themselves by doing good work. Because we like pretty, but we like dramas more.)
girlfriday: Sean had just spent months making a documentary about Hallyu, so he knew what he was talking about. And he had funny stories about being on drama sets with the director and cast and crew just standing around, waiting for the scripts to come in. PD: “So… this is the scene… what do you think your character might say here?”
javabeans: That was my favorite anecdote, with my second favorite being how he first read about his supposed casting in Take Care of Us, Captain in the news, and had to call up his management to ask, “Uh, am I doing this drama?” (He didn’t do the drama.)
girlfriday: This is the conversation you imagine happening with every actor that goes through the “Just considering,” “No no really, not confirmed,” cycles of casting stories.
javabeans: Then we got to be his entourage for a day afterward (I seriously wish there was video of our brief corridor strut with Sean Richard flanked by the four DB girls, because it just felt like the most hilarious parody of an entourage scenario, hair blowing in the breeze and all), hanging out in the Viki booth while he signed autographs for fans and we watched his documentary. Which, by the way, I think is totally worth the watch; it’s a project he directed called Finding Hallyuwood and has some interesting interviews with actors and idols. It was cute how he mock-ordered us to watch his documentary, and then was all “No no, I didn’t mean you HAVE to see it!” when we stood there watching it, and we had to convince him we genuinely liked it.
girlfriday: We totally watched it twice.
javabeans: Here, you can watch it now. We’ll wait.
javabeans: I have to point out our amusing brush with PPL at the panel, with the bottled waters provided by Bibigo for the speakers, which HAD to then be shown, label-side-forward, in the official promo photos taken by the staff. You know you’ve made it when your face has to be shot with sponsored content featured in frame.
girlfriday: That was hilarious. I totally had that moment of Oh, this is what it feels like to deliver that “This is tasty and refreshing!” line at the coffee shop in dramas.
javabeans: Although I have to say, having eaten Bibigo for lunch: Who puts broccoli in bibimbap? C’mon, Psy, I know you don’t take your bibimbap like that.
girlfriday: I know. This is what happens when you put your face on something. Incidentally, we also stopped at Kang Hodong’s restaurant during our weekend, and THAT was the totally opposite experience. Like, if anyone’s gonna know his meat, it’s Hodong.
javabeans: Omg, deliiiiiiiiiiiicious. Also, trust Hodong to be the one to co-opt a totally negative word (Kang Hodong Baekjeong means Kang Hodong Butcher, and butchers were the lowest of the low-class back in ye olden days) and make it cool. Word to the wise: Get there an hour before you plan to be hungry, put your name in, and maybe grab some coffee across the street. It’s gonna be a while. But totally worth it, especially when you are attended to by a cadre of young pretty boys who yell their welcome and goodbye at you in chorus.
girlfriday: It’s Coffee Prince: The BBQ Version, and it’s genius. Should we tell people about the concert?
javabeans: I gave up about 20 percent of my hearing to it, so yes. Um, I think we can skip the whole Chad Future intro part and start with the concert proper, which was kicked off by f(x). I thought at the time that it was strange for the show to start with a pretty big group rather than one of the lesser-knowns, but it was probably all for the best. Because, to put it nicely, they were appropriately placed in terms of, um, energy and maybe appeal.
girlfriday: They were bland. There, I said it.
javabeans: I was thinking more along the lines of terrible. They didn’t seem to be doing any singing, and they barely did any dancing either. I was much more enthused for Dynamic Duo, who I must say were looking dapper.
girlfriday: They looked so cute. And were of course really good live.
javabeans: So much energy, jumping all over the place. After that I can’t remember the order of anybody, but I generally had a good impression of everyone’s performances, even if the music wasn’t my taste.
Yoo Seung-woo’s “Hello” (not from KCON)
girlfriday: My memory pretty much goes from Dynamic Duo to tiny tiny Yoo Seung-woo being squished by giant inflatable marshmallows.
javabeans: OH MY GOD. I love him so much. We were lucky to see him the day before at the side stage when it was just him and a guitar and a mic, and he was awesome. Not just adorable, but also musically talented and vocally strong and great all around. I didn’t enjoy him as much in the concert because the acoustics were so terrible and echo-y that you couldn’t appreciate his live performance skills in that kind of arena.
girlfriday: Or his witty in-between speeches.
javabeans: Limited English has never been so endearing. “Next song. Good song.” and “Next song. Last song.” Precious. Also, he wrote a song extolling makgulli, which immediately makes him our people. Even if he’s too wee to drink legally yet.
girlfriday: If DB had a musical mascot, he’d be it.
javabeans: Though he’s definitely too wee to consider throwing immense bouncy balls at! To contextualize this, he was singing his song “Hello,” which contains the line “My marshmallow,” at which point the staff released about two dozen huge bouncy balls into the VIP pit area from the balcony level. The first two seconds looked whimsical and cute, and then you were like, “Wait! They’re heading for the stage! Did nobody think this through? Won’t somebody save tiny Yoo Seung-woo?”
girlfriday: It was the worst idea ever. I couldn’t even enjoy the lovely song because I was convinced that he was going to be crushed by giant marshmallows at any moment.
javabeans: He almost was. There was this moment when one huge ball came bouncing at him from behind, and there was the collective intake of about four thousand people in the audience, gasping, “Oh noooooo!” It hit him full-on from the back (while he was playing guitar and singing facing forward) and it was a lucky thing he didn’t fall splat on his face. Or his guitar.
girlfriday: There was also this new pop group called Crayon Pop, which I can only describe as manga characters come to life. They were indescribably tiny and bouncy and cheery.
Crayon Pop, also not from KCON
javabeans: I’m pretty sure they were cheerleading Powerpuff Girls. They looked about twelve onstage, though they’re actually all in their twenties. Then there was 2AM, whom I managed to hear over gummimochi’s fangirling (maybe only just barely), who I thought were the best singers of the night, and among the most endearing.
girlfriday: And then at some point, EXO came on and we all went deaf.
javabeans: I have been to a lot of concerts in my life, and been subject to lots of screaming, but never have my ears quite hit that level of pain as when EXO came on and the stadium went batshit crazy.
girlfriday: It was a new decibel I didn’t know existed.
javabeans: There was a second or two when I legitimately feared I might pop something.
girlfriday: It’s always an interesting experience to see that kind of fandom reaction when you’re on the outside of it, because I wondered if I was like that back in the day when it was MY omg-omg-oppaaaaa onstage, and I guess the answer is yes, and I should probably apologize to my parents or something.
javabeans: Although I would venture to guess you didn’t steal signed merch of your oppas from kind folks who were planning to give them away, like when Soompi got their EXO stuff robbed from their booth.
girlfriday: That’s a sad story.
javabeans: I think the EXO fans even outdid the G-Dragon fans, based on my very scientific evidence of eardrum pain. I have to say, I wasn’t super impressed with GD, but maybe I just don’t Get Him.
girlfriday: He was better with Missy Elliott, but overall he looked like he was asleep.
javabeans: Maybe he WAS asleep during the pre-performance roll call, seeing as how he totally didn’t show up in the intro lineup when everyone was announced and took their bows. When the camera zoomed in for his close-up, all we got was empty stage, like something out of a movie. It was all *screams* *screams* *confused murmurs* *Hurry! Next guest!*
girlfriday: Asleep is certainly a better excuse than too cool for school. Overall the whole experience was a good one. KCON is all about inclusiveness and celebrating fandom, and it was fun to be in the thick of it with all of you.
javabeans: We were honored to be invited as guests (thanks Viki!) and enjoyed meeting you all, and hopefully get more opportunities to talk to you in person in the future! Even if I’m still recovering now and trying to get my hearing back. Makgulli fixes that, right?
girlfriday: It does in my world.
- Reminder: Meetup in Koreatown, KCON
- Dramabeans at KCON, who’s up for an LA meetup?
- Dramabeans at KCON 2013!