This is the story about how a weary Noona went to KCON NY and had her affection for K-Pop revived.
As a fairly new resident to the East Coast (New England represent! Cue crickets) Noona observed from across the country as KCON LA and their fantastic social media crew (seriously, KCON has social media cracked down.) gave update after update on how awesome KCON LA would be. Noona felt a small pang of jealousy when Shinhwa, the legends and the original K-Pop love for Noona, was announced in the line up, but she was feeling jealousy spasms when actors were announced to attend. Actors! The glory small face that is Kim Soo Hyun! The Korean-American gorgeousness that is Daniel Henney! They even had Ki Hong Lee, the actor who plays Noona’s second favorite Minho.
There were two things that kept Noona from fully erupting in green envy and shipping herself back to the West Coast. One, that SHINee was not in the lineup, and still safe from her. Two, That she had KCON NY.
Yes, for the first time, KCON would be heading over to the East Coast to appease the hungry fans that had for so long begged for attention. Noona was close enough to New York (*ahem* Newark) to be able to go, and so she quickly signed up to represent Soompi at the K-Pop media panel but also as a reporter to cover the event. Surely, KCON NY would be as epic as KCON LA so the East Coast could finally stand up those spoiled West Coasters…
Or maybe East Coast K-Pop fans were just so happy to finally getting something, that they would take anything they could get.
It was more like that.
As Noona walked around in the hot morning sun, she couldn’t help but do the one thing she shouldn’t have done: compare. This was not her first KCON nor was it her first K-Pop event, and as she walked past the handful of stands and the slowly growing group of fans, she couldn’t help but think about what wasn’t there.
“Oh, this is it,” she thought to herself as she went through the entire convention in mere minutes. “This is KCON NY.”
Unimpressed, Noona retreated to the press room. She would hide here, venturing out into the sun only to give away the goodies. She had no desire to mingle or meet other fans. “They only want free stuff from me anyway,” she assured herself. “I don’t love K-Pop enough to bear the heat. This is just my job.”
Noona did not realize that her K-Pop heart was two sizes too small.
Dutifully as a good Soompi servant should, Noona began to tweet and give away the goodies. The first time, she had sent out a tweet for a mere fifteen seconds before she was jumped at by two over excited young girls. They had been waiting for her to come out of the press conference. They chit chatted briefly before they ran away.
“How cute these fans are,” Noona thought, smiling to herself as she hurried back inside the press room.
The second time, Noona ventured further away from the press room. This time, instead of just striding through, she lingered at the booths and observed the fans around her. Everyone was just so excited. All the tents and booths had lines of people eager for goodies and souvenirs. Every once in awhile, she would hear what could only be the excited shriek of a fan girl or boy. She also noticed that the fans at KCON NY were far more diverse than she had ever seen on the other side.
Eight seconds. That was all it took for someone to jump out at her with the secret password she just tweeted out. One of the girls had followed Noona so she could win the signed got7 CD for her friend. Noona had always been a sucker for sweet friendships; it was hard not just give the two girls everything she had. Once again, she went back to the press conference smiling.
Each time she stepped out to give away something, she stayed out longer and chatted more with the fans. It was difficult not to be warmed up by their smiles and giddiness. It was difficult not to be charmed by all of them.
If Noona’s K-Pop heart had been two sizes too small that morning, it grew two sizes bigger by the time Noona walked into a hot tent packed with people to speak about K-Pop and the media. She had done this before, and she would be reuniting Jeff Benjamin of Bilboard and Fuse fame and Johnny the photographer from down under. It would also be her second time working with a representative from Kpopstarz, this time with the lovely Adrienne. Noona was happy to share her experience of working in Seoul and address the past controversial issues from a media perspective. She and the other media representatives gave advice on how to write about K-Pop and encouraged writers to keep pushing.
The best part was when Noona was able to meet people one-on-one at the end of the panel. Everyone was incredibly sweet and their excited for K-Pop stirred something in her. Had she already grown so weary of K-Pop after a few months of hiatus? Had she become one of those K-Pop snobs, one who can’t be impressed by the immense amount of work KCON people clearly put into bringing KCON to the East Coast?
After the panel she saw KCON NY with new eyes. Whether other people compared this KCON to the one before didn’t matter. People were genuinely excited to be part of KCON, not just to see AOA, VIXX, Teen Top, and Girls’ Generation, but to meet and be surrounded by other K-Pop fans. Noona had forgotten how lonely it can be being a K-Pop fan outside of Korea. No wonder everyone was friendly and cheerful. It felt good to belong in a lively community.
And just when Noona thought she had repented of her narrow mindedness, she joined the sea of roaring K-Pop fans for the concert. The excitement, the energy, the pure joy in the air was palpable. Even though she was just a tiny speck among the thousands in that stadium, she felt like she was part of something much bigger, much grander, than she had ever given credit to.
“Oh, this is it,” Noona thought to herself as she basked in the comforting rumble of fan love and captivating lights. “This is KCON NY.”
CallMeN00NA is an editor-at-large at Soompi who loved getting to meet some Soompiers face to face. She would also like to give a shout out to the Soompi team for their patience and her fellow panelists who are always a pleasure to work with. You can talk to her on Twitter.