Guest post by Tanya Rodriguez

On August 24th and 25th, a wave of “All Things Hallyu” took over the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The two-day festival, aptly name KCON, celebrates all aspects of Korean culture including food, fashion, music, dramas, and films.

The organizers of this year’s KCON did not leave Kfans disappointed. Spread out over the two days, they included numerous panels that featured different artists, topics, as well as how-to workshops. On the side stage, the music was constantly pumping with a wide variety of performers and groups. There were also dancing, singing, and cosplay contests, but that’s not all!

This year, KCON hosted MNET’s M Countdown with Danny Im. It was the first time the international broadcast has been in Los Angeles and the lineup was amazing: Yu Seung Woo (with Han HeeJun), 2AM, DJ Koo, Crayon Pop, Dynamic Duo, Henry (of Super Junior M), EXO, Teen Top, f(x), Missy Elliott, and G-Dragon. To add to the excitement, based on which of the three ticket options you purchased, you were given opportunities to interact with the artists. The artist engagement opportunities included: being in the audience during interviews, taking part in a “hi-touch” session, going to a fan signing to get autographs, or attend the red carpet event to see all of the artists entering the stadium for the concert itself where fans were allowed to be a Kpaparazzi of sorts.

Even if you weren’t lucky enough to get an artist you wanted, people will were willing to sell or trade their artist engagement vouchers to get their chance. There were also contests to win vouchers through many of the KCON sponsors and vendors. I was lucky enough to trade so I could watch G-Dragon’s interview and I won three vouchers to f(x)’s fan signing, which also included watching their interview.

The amazing end to everything was the M Countdown Concert. The pre-show before the concert included performances from Jeff Bernat and Chad Future, both of whom are trying to break into the scene in Korea.

Once the broadcast started, DJ Koo spun a mix of some of the artists’ hit songs, as most of the groups were introduced to the crowd, which shook the arena with its screams. Each group then performed a few songs and was given a short amount of time to talk to the audience and introduce all of their members or talk about their songs or their time in L.A.

The last group to be introduced was f(x), who performed immediately afterwards. All of their dance moves were flawless as they performed “Electric Shock,” “Rum Pum Pum Pum,” and “Hot Summer.”

They were followed by Dynamic Duo, who pumped the crowd with “BAAM,” “Fireworks” and “Friday Night.” I was seriously impressed with the way they worked the crowd up and managed to fill the whole stage with just the two of them.

2AM was introduced again by Danny Im and short videos the members made of their anticipation to perform in L.A. again. They performed a cover of “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars as well as “One Spring Day” and “Even If I Die I Can’t Let You Go.”

Henry came up next and performed “1-4-3” featuring Amber from f(x) and the English version of his new song “Trap” that is featured in Boa’s new film. I was amazed by the amount of energy and charisma he had on stage. He also promised to bring the rest of Super Junior with him the next time he’s in the United States.

Crayon Pop came out with helmets fastened! They are a cute group and performed their viral hit “Bar Bar Bar” and “Dancing Queen.”

Yu Seung Woo was introduced by Han HeeJun. The two performed a medley of Kpop songs including “Gentlemen” by Psy and other hits before Yu Seung Woo performed “Hello” by himself. During the on-stage interview with Danny Im, it was revealed that it was the first time Yu Seung Woo has performed outside of Korea, so you could tell he was very excited. Also, during the interview, he threw footballs that he signed to the crowd and he has a very good throwing arm… many of them made it to the upper levels of the stadium.

Teen Top came out with a grand entrance and debuted their new song “Rocking” followed by “Miss Right,” “To You,” and “Crazy.” I wasn’t very familiar with Teen Top before KCON, but I definitely will be watching them more closely after their performance. They are a group to watch!

EXO’s shear number of members made for an amazing entrance to the stage as all 12 was present. I was unexpectedly impressed with Tao, who accidentally hit himself in the head with a staff when performing his entrance, but continued like it never happened. They performed “Wolf,” “Growl” and “365.”

While it wasn’t shown on broadcast, Missy Elliott did perform two of her biggest hits “Get Ur Freak On” and “Lose Control.” It is very clear that she has not lost her touch over the years and will continue to be one of the best.

G-Dragon took the stage and the crowd went crazy! He performed “One of a Kind,” “MichiGO,” and the high-energy “Crayon.” GD then brought Missy Elliott back to the stage and debuted his new track “Niliria” that is an amazing collaboration with her. He definitely did not disappoint this GD fan! Their timing together was perfect.

Overall, KCON was amazing. It took me from being a Kdrama and G-Dragon fan and gave me a new appreciation for more of the Kpop spectrum and other aspects of Korean culture. Was it worth the flight from North Carolina? Absolutely! I will be back next year regardless of the lineup.

The entire 2 hour broadcast of M Countdown from KCON can be watched here.

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Special thanks to Juno Monkee for providing some of the photos! Find him on Facebook: