Check out our MCOUNTDOWN Night 1 photobook! Feel free to caption the photos in the comments below. Stay awesome, stay creative!
You’ve heard me speak from this blog-pulpit for over 5 months, which is how many ever weeks and how many ever days. We’ve talked about K-Pop idols, we’ve talked about Twitter, we’ve talked about that big event that just happened in Los Angeles—KCON. In between knowing each other, there was that.
After two days, we arrived at the end. The final moments of the concert fell away, our friends jumped into a miraculously waved-down cab, and we passed people for the final time with whom we shared fleeting glances. But, you know what, before all of that bittersweet emotional people-stuff, there were 2 amazing concerts, and there were 30-something panels and workshops that we planned with the single thought of bringing you happiness. While all of the people who plan KCON do it to give you happiness—they are truly in it for the fan-service—I work for KCON with the single hope of seeing you happy. The slightly selfish reason of a too-visual mind.
At KCON 2014, none of my favorite moments included idols. They included a fan yelling “thank you” to me (man, I hope it was me. I need to start looking over my shoulder more), each selfie I happily and hurriedly took with LiveChat watchers, and even receiving the kindness of a tray of cookies from one of our panelists—shout out to the Creator Group’s Banatule! Wait did I look like I could eat a tray of cookies?
Just what went on behind the scenes planning KCON 2014? I wish I could say that it was like one of those trendy dramas where there’s a stupidly hot manager who manages to leave work every night while it’s still light out—but there were many days of not seeing the sun (whether there were any hot people, I will leave up to you ;)) and working to your limit. But those days I loved most; they were adventure days.
Conventions are the hard work of 2-month long research being scrapped and remade, of 1,000 cell-spreadsheets which somehow always have a single mistake that you can never catch, of conference rooms filled with boxes of ramyun (wait…that kind of is like a K-Drama) and trays of Sprinkles cupcakes. But, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished by a group of people working hard—whether it’s powered by ramyun or adrenaline. I feel equally honored to have contributed to the massive fan-love event that is KCON and to work for this company amongst so many tirelessly toiling coworkers.
Most of all, what I want to say in this post, is thank you for being so kind, for rolling with delays, and for not being sasaengs (I am really thankful for that). While I was watching your tweet-responses to my tweets roll in, in between some of the negative tweets (some of you got really creative with “#kconselfie”) there were some truly spirited tweets and selfies in the midst of heat and long lines. Thank you for being the spirit of Hallyu.
Tomorrow, we are going to upload our own concert and convention recap with all of the pics that you’ve been waiting for, but today, this post is for you, KCON-ers. One convention, Limitless Fun, Fantastic Fans.
Start planning your #KCON2014 adventure! Check out our program book that has all the details you need to start planning!
You must be wondering as you read this, can I trust this non-Korean, non-LA person to give me good advice about Koreatown restaurants. The truth is, any guide is always biased by the tastes of its reviewer and this one is most definitely a result of my own food loves (Gamjatang? Yes. Anything involving shellfish? No. I’m allergic).
All of the restaurants that I am going to list below are not ones that I found in a guide or went because they were “hip” or even wandered into. They are places where I have good memories—places that I have experienced with my Korean Meetup group, places that I have spent late nights with my co-workers, and places that I have gone to with treasured people. Most importantly (to you, dearest reader) they are places that serve freaking fantastic food. I hope that you enjoy these restaurants as much as I have and go out to make your own memories.
Tips and Tricks of the Koreatown First-time Food-goer:
1: Always bring cash! If you’ve watched any K-Dramas or gone out with your Korean friends, you know that splitting the check is not so common. So, many Korean restaurants (especially the small, hole-in-the-wall types) may give you the eye for splitting your check 10 ways on 10 different credit cards. If you want to split the check, just bring cash so that you can easily do it.
Also! Many small restaurants don’t take credit card, so always bring cash.
Also! If you drive, don’t forget cash for valet. Street parking may leave you a frustrated mess. $2 is not much to pay for your sanity.
2: Learn some Korean ordering phrases! Check out our Korean Language 101 panel at KCON 2014 to learn how to order at a restaurant or head over to this Talk To Me In Korean Video! As anyone at KCON can attest, I am really shy to use my Korean language skills because I am super afraid of offending people. But, a restaurant is a really great place to practice because you will never see your waiter again…unless you’ve successfully flirted your way into a date.
All of the restaurants listed below are hyperlinked and use the spelling listed on Yelp so that you can easily find them. Let’s take a look at my favorite Korean restaurants:
Note: Just a short note, while I love vegetarian food, I really haven’t eaten it in Koreatown. Why? Because none of my friends are vegetarian and since we share our food together we usually order non-vegetarian dishes. Apologies that this list includes very meat-centric dishes.
1) Han Bat Sul Lung Tang: A Hole-in-the-wall Filled with Seollungtang
The Story: Of all of the restaurants on this list, this one was the most surprisingly amazing one. My friends and I drove down a maze of alleyways (which I’m not sure was entirely “legal”) after going to the Korean spa to arrive at this small, homey, sparse restaurant promising pretty much only one thing: Seollungtang. And that thing was…fantastic.
The Specialty: Seollungtang.
This is a Korean ox bone soup with other various cuts of meat added depending on which variety that you order. It’s signature white color comes from the bones cooking in the broth over a long period of time. There are many cuts of meat that can be added in the soup, but my personal favorites are brisket or tongue.
Why This Restaurant Is Awesome: To be super honest, I was not a fan of Seollungtang in the past because no matter how much salt, kimchi, or green onions I added, it just never had flavor. Not to mention, I love out of this world spicy food. But, Han Bat’s Seollungtang is something special. Even though Seollungtang is not spicy, it has this deep flavor drawn from its slow-cooking process. Eating here, I could tell that this was a place that took the time to do something right.
And, if I wasn’t sure that it was good, my homesick friend said it was the best Seollungtang he’s had since leaving Korea—and homesickness always speaks the truth.
Notes: Bring cash! No cards accepted!
2) Korean Chicken Place: Simple, Awesome, Korean Fried Chicken
The Story: While this is not the first place I’ve eaten Korean fried chicken (Shout out to Bonchon in NYC, my first chicken love), it is definitely the one my heart chose as its soul mate. After competing and failing to get a space in a valet parking lot (that’s right, sometimes it’s so crowded in LA, you can’t even pay someone to park your car) for an hour, Korean Chicken Place was a welcome calm, low-lit, breezy, chill spot to meet a long, un-met friend for dinner.
The Specialty: Korean Fried Chicken Wings, Fire Chicken
These days it seems like Korean fried chicken is a bit of thing around the world after the pandemic of “Cheon Song-yi Chicken-fever.” And, you know what? The chicken-fever is real, people, and it is totally worthwhile. Korean chicken gets its signature crunchiness and tastiness from double frying the chicken.
Why This Restaurant Is Awesome: I really like Korean Chicken Place because their simple “Fried Chicken Wings” are bomb. Perfectly cooked, perfectly crunchy, can’t go wrong. If you want more of a spicy experience try the “Fire Chicken” (bool dak). There are spicy levels of “fire chicken” to test the limits of your spice tolerance. Most of all, I love this place because it’s a calm place to just chill with your friends and munch on some amazing chicken.
3) OB Bear: Fried Chicken with Dark Lighting
The Story: I put two chicken places on this list because their moods are completely opposite of each other. One cool and calm, one dark and overflowing with people.
I love places with dark lighting—the mood is better, everyone’s makeup looks better, and you can easily hide your chicken sauce stained hands. OB Bear is the place where my Korean Language Meetup group congregates around massive plates of chicken and other Korean foods, sometimes watching Dodgers’ games, sometimes chatting for hours. It’s the kind of place where you can relax snuggled between wood paneled walls and share a story with your friends in between bites of spicy chicken.
The Specialty: Korean Fried Chicken, Spicy Chicken Wings
Why This Restaurant Is Awesome: What should you try? Well, their menu is actually really huge, but when in a chicken place I think you should try the chicken! The simple “Fried Chicken” and the “Spicy Chicken Wings” are consistently amazing to enjoy with various awesome Korean alcohols, if you’re into that (or are allowed to be into that). In fact, Hoon and I shamelessly ate 30 spicy chicken wings from OB Bear…at one time. I like to think that’s a very good sign for the restaurant, perhaps not a very good sign for our stomachs.
4) Gam Ja Gol: A Small Place with a lot of Heart…and a lot of Gamjatang
The Story: In my first week at KCON, Hoon and I said our favorite Korean food at the same time—and like a cheesy movie, we said the same thing. And, that thing was Gamjatang. For me, Gamjatang (and Gamja Gol in particular) is special because it was the first food I shared with my co-workers at not one, but two jobs. It was the first time regardless of where we came from or what language we spoke, we could bond over something—Gamjatang, a spicy pork spine soup.
The Specialty: Gamjatang.
If you know some basic Korean, you may assume that the name means “potato soup” (gamja meaning “potato”), “gamja” actually refers to the word for “pork spine,” thus it is called “pork spine soup.” It’s a super flavorful soup overflowing with potatoes, meat, perilla leaves, red pepper flavor (giving it its trademark rusty-red color) and ground sesame that will never leave you hungry.
Why This Restaurant Is Awesome: I personally enjoy Gamja Gol because it’s not pretentious. It’s small, it doesn’t have a lot of decoration, but it does this one soup extremely well. Take your new KCON friends here and bond—without dropping a potato on the floor or splattering broth on yourself, as I do, saying to myself, “It was totally worth it, but this is why you don’t own white clothes.”
5) Myung Dong Kyoja: All Roads Lead This Noodle Hot Spot
The Story: I say that all roads lead here because it’s open 24/7 and takes in the hungry people of Koreatown no matter the hour, no matter how big the group. Whether I come here with a group of 30 my classmates and friends sneaking in some Korean phrases with the waiter, or with our small, but amazing KCON staff, the staff of Myungdong Kyoja are always welcoming and food is always tasty.
The Specialty: Kalguksu
Kalguksu are essentially cut noodles surrounded by a broth, which may be various different flavors (ranging from chicken to seafood). Again, not a spicy soup, but a soup full of flavor, noodles, meat, and vegetables.
Why This Restaurant Is Awesome: This is the local outpost of the classic Seoul restaurant of the same name, which serves up amazing Kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) and mandu (dumplings). Excellent service, and even more excellent noodles will do that. What do I recommend? It’s time to get your Kalguksu on! Either the Seafood Kalguksu or the Chicken Kalguksu are amazing.
Note: If everyone at your table orders food, you can get free noodle refills!
KCON Intern by day, Writer by night
Below is information on everything you need to know about Artist Engagement Sessions. For the full info on all other information on registration/check-in, concert entry, and etc - please visit the Rules and Waivers page.
ARTIST ENGAGEMENT SESSION POLICIES
There are four (4) types of artist engagement possible and not every Concert artist or Convention featured guest will be available to participate in each of the activities.
- Artist Signing: Available to eligible P1 (VIP GA) ticket holders only. No merchandise restrictions.
- Artist Hi-Touch: Available to eligible P1 (VIP GA) and P2 (GA Floor and eligible Middle Level Loge) ticket holders only. No hugs!
- Artist Engagement Audience: Available to all eligible ticket holders.
- Red Carpet: Available to all eligible ticket holders.
Your Artist Engagement Pass is the ONLY means of entry into these events and lets you know WHICH artist and what TYPE of engagement for which you are eligible. Artist Engagement Passes will be distributed at Convention check-in on a random basis. DO NOT LOSE your Artist Engagement Pass, it will not be replaced! You will only be admitted to the session that is indicated on your card – there are no exceptions! And sorry, NO MEDIA ALLOWED – only Artist Engagement Pass holders may enter the area.
Artist Engagement Session Entry Protocol:
- Line-ups will start 15 minutes before the start of each scheduled session with separate sections for signing, hi-touch, and audience pass holders.
- Have the Artist Engagement Pass ready to show KCON staff & security and be ready to surrender it upon entry into the artist engagement area.
- Artist signing session, hi-touch session, and audience pass holders must remain in their respective areas throughout the program.
Artist Engagement Session General Rules:
- The artist and artist engagement type you can access is determined solely by your valid Artist Engagement Pass. There are no substitutions.
- ARTIST ENGAGEMENT PASSES HAVE NO VALUE, ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE, AND CANNOT BE SOLD, REDEEMED OR EXCHANGED FOR CASH. LOST OR STOLEN PASSES WILL NOT BE REPLACED.
- No cutting in line.
- No hugs with the artist.
- No loitering after the engagement session.
- Follow guidelines and instructions given by staff.
- You must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. CJ reserves the right to revoke, without refund, your Artist Engagement Pass and Convention wristband if you do not comply with this policy.
- Artist engagement sessions schedules are subject to change or cancellation at any time due to unforeseen circumstances! Notifications about changes will be posted at the KCON information booth and through SMS messaging whenever possible. In the case of an outright cancellation, CJ will make every effort to provide relief, but is not responsible for and does not guarantee an alternate opportunity or any other remedies.
- You understand that participating in the Event is voluntary and may involve risks, including physical injury, damage to property, and other damages or losses, and by entering or participating in the Event, you assume all such risks and waive the right to claim any damages whatsoever resulting from, arising from, or in connection with your participation. By entering the event, you understand and agree to be bound by the full waiver and limitation of liability available at Rules and Waiver page including the waiver and the release of any liability and privacy and publicity rights included therein.
KCON 2014 is only a few days away! We know you have a lot of questions about registration/check-in.
Below are some essential information you need to know about registration/check-in for KCON 2014 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on August 9th-10th!
THE KCON CONVENTION OPENS TO THE PUBLIC AT 10AM AND PROGRAMS BEGIN AT 11AM! The KCON Market, which is free to the public, opens at 10am.
- Check-in for the KCON Convention will start at 8am at the Check-In booths located in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
- Gates to the parking lot area will open at 6am for public access. There is no overnight camping allowed on the event grounds!
- For the full information regarding check-in go to our Rules and Waivers page!
KCON IS INTRODUCING QUEUE WRISTBANDS FOR P1 (VIP GA) and P2 STANDING (GA FLOOR) TICKETHOLDERS FOR CONCERT ENTRY:
Now you don’t have to choose between going to the Red Carpet or watching a performance and waiting in line for the Concert floor! For P1 (VIP GA) and P2 Standing (GA FLOOR) ticketholders ONLY, when checking in to the KCON Convention you will also receive your Concert Queue Wristband. (One for each night of your eligible ticket).
- Each wristband is numbered – which will determine your place in line for entry into the Standing/GA area of the Concert. (One wristband per concert). We greatly appreciate your cooperation as we are implementing the Queue Wristbands in the interest of safety!
- The Queue Wristband will be distributed on a first-come,-first-served basis to P1 (VIP GA) and P2 Standing (GA FLOOR) ticketholders checking-in to the Convention from Saturday at 8am. P1 (VIP GA) and P2 Standing (GA FLOOR) Combo Ticket holders will each receive 2 wristbands at check-in, valid for queuing on each concert night.
- For more information about Concert Entry, go to our Rules and Waivers page!
REGISTER FOR ONSITE MESSAGES!
Don’t miss any major announcements or schedule changes when you’re at KCON – sign-up to receive SMS notifications for speedy and direct onsite messaging you won’t want to miss. YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR OUR ONSITE MESSAGES HERE.
PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION TO KCON:
Because of the growth of KCON, the parking lots 4, 5, and 6 (immediately adjacent to KCON) are NOT available for public parking. For parking onsite, please utilize other lots in Exposition Park (shown in the map) as well as nearby USC parking structures. Parking prices vary. Click here for more info on parking.
Public transportation is also highly recommended! Click here for more directions on public transportation!
KCON is getting closer by the day! That was most bittersweet “y’all” I have ever uttered (yeah for KCON! Mer for the days slipping away!). Anyway, as you may have heard, we are having a free market at KCON 2014. It’s open from 10 am to 10 pm each day. That means not only can you munch on your breakfast, lunch and dinner at KCON but your family can hang out there FOR FREE ADMISSION.
What else can you do in a KCON market? Well, we’re featuring a lot of vendors straight from Korea selling you everything from clothes, to posters, to nail polish. If you want a fashionable piece of the Korean look, this is your chance to grab it. But also, while your nibbling on some kimbap what will you hear but the fantabulous sound of our outdoor stage. Our outdoor stage, featuring guests like Jhameel, Shin-B, Connie Lim, DAN aka DAN, and many others are free for you to enjoy too.
To us, KCON is for you. So we hope that you freely enjoy this market and partake in the food, merchandise, and performances! Right now, I thought I would let you know about a few of my own favorites that will be featured in KCON Market. There are hundreds of vendors, so I am just going to share with you the ones that I or my friends have experienced. Here it is, Vanessa’s picks (so far…) of the KCON Market.
[CONTEST] 8 DAYS until KCON and it’s time to show your K-Pop spirit! If you are super, out of this world pumped for the M COUNTDOWN concerts at KCON, we are celebrating you!
The fan with the most sharing point by 11:59PM PT August 1st wins a pair of #KCON2014 tickets! SHARE via http://bit.ly/UECb27
All great fan fiction starts with an even more awesome question like: “What would happen if I lived next-door to this cotton-candy coifed member of EXO?” or, “What would happen if Harry Potter debuted as K-Pop Idol?” It may seem unbelievable (When would Harry have the time to leave the Auror Department, not to mention all of his kids?), but fanfiction is about the unbelievable magic that can happen when you put your pen to paper.
So, we are officially sending out the fanfiction bat signal!! If you are a writer of fanfics or just a lover of them, head over to our fan fiction open mic. For one hour on Saturday at KCON 2014 (for exact timings, check out our programming schedule), you can share that fan love in a truly awesome and creative way—standing up at a mic for 3 glorious minutes and showing your talent!
What do you need to do? Jump on your laptop, sift through your docs, and choose the craftiest, most interesting 3-minute piece of your Hallyu fanfiction to bring to the KCON panel stage! Don’t forget to print out the copy of what you will be reading at KCON for there are no fan-fiction printers at KCON 2014!
Note!! KCON is home to some youthful, underage people, so try to choose a 3 minute piece of your work that is on the less smexy-side. A little more idol-love, a little less lust.
KCON Intern by day, writer by night