If you couldn’t tell from the screaming fans, K-pop is here to stay.
The world’s biggest Korean pop culture convention, KCON, hits the Javits Center and Madison Square Garden in July, bringing with it performances from some of the largest names in the K-pop industry, such as Seventeen and (G)I-dle.
For two days, July 6 and 7, K-pop fans can learn about their favorite band members during live filming and stage interviews as well as take part in workshops related to music, dance, food, TV, film and more.
"This is one of the only chances fans get to see their favorite stars up close and … meet them for a longer period of time," said Vanessa Augsbach, KCON’s digital media editor.
Major highlights this year include a "Rookie Showcase," which is a chance to meet some up-and-coming bands like Tomorrow X Together (from the same company that produced BTS), EVERGLOW, VERIVERY and IZ*One.
There will also be an activity called "Cover Star K," which is a fan-voted talent show for singing and dancing on the convention stage.
When not meeting their idols, fans can also learn the latest choreography and show it off, decorate their KCON fan signs and listen in on panels covering many aspects of Korean pop culture and its fandom, from "K-pop and Mental Health" to "K-pop’s LGBTQ Fandom."
K-pop fandom is reaching new heights — in 2018, boy band BTS had two Billboard 200 No. 1 albums and since 2015, Spotify has recorded a 65 percent increase of K-pop listeners per year, according to Billboard.
And between 2012 and 2018, KCON grew from just 10,000 attendees at its first event in L.A. to 147,000 attendees across its two U.S. conventions.
But what is behind the "Korean Wave," or "Hallyu?" — a term used to refer to the popularity of Korean entertainment across the world.
Augsbach says it’s about bonding with friends and celebrating the positive.
"My favorite band is Monsta X — I love their music, I watch their TV shows, but for me, the most important experience is that I get to share my favorite band with my friends and co-workers," she said. "For a lot of our fans, K-pop represents a chance to connect with each other and it has a very powerful positive presence for a lot of people."
Tips for KCON ticket holders:
1.) Check in a day early.
Skip security lines by checking in early. Check-in times will be announced soon on kconusa.com.
2.) Bring sunscreen and water.
While the events are indoors, the con is set up between The Javits Center and MSG.
3.) Find out what you can and cannot bring to the venues.
Avoid the tough choice of leaving the venue or leaving behind an item (like a fan sign or a stool).
4.) Check out the con’s social media handles to find out more about the featured stars.
IF YOU GO: Click here to buy tickets to KCON.