CJ K-CON 2013, which took place between August 24 and 25 (local time) at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, was filled with Korean Wave fans who desire to know everything about Korea.
The exhibition was a sort of Hallyu festival where the participants could experience Korean companies’ fashion, food, IT products, cars, cultural content, and everything else related to K-pop. The 100 booths prepared for hands-on events were very popular.
Shannon Leader (16 years old), who has been a K-pop fan for two years, said, “I came here with my grandparents, paying US$600 to purchase three R-seat tickets by selling my drawings of K-pop idols like EXO and G Dragon.” With an excited tone, she continued by saying, “I want to know everything about Korea, including its food, fashion, and beauty industry, and I’m planning to go to a graduate school in Korea.”
Another booth that caught much popularity was Bibigo’s K-Food Class, where the visitors could be served Bibimbap. Although the host prepared 100 servings of rice with assorted vegetables, it was completely booked an hour and a half before the event opened. Maya Moyer, who visited the booth of Nongshim, ate three Shin Ramyun Cups in one sitting, saying, “The spicy taste of Korean ramen is addictive!” Right beside there was the Get It Beauty booth, where the students wanting to learn about Korea-style makeup thronged and the brand cosmetics packages prepared by Korean cosmetics companies such as Hanskin and Cha & Park were sold out in just 10 minutes.
Hyundai Motor Company’s booth, in the meantime, attracted young customers with its models like Veloster and Santa Fe. The small firms that joined the show for the first time this year, including accessories maker Mzuu, Ido Green Tea, and Hichen Cosmetics, were very popular with the audience, too. Ido’s green tea bags, priced at US$2 each, sold like hotcakes.
The K-CON festival, which had started last year, was sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company and Verizon this year. The number of the participating companies increased from 30 to 75 and the sponsorship soared sevenfold. The 1,200 VIP seats for the K-pop concert were sold out in only a few minutes even though they were priced at as high as US$300, triple last year’s price, just like the other 10,000 or so seats. The total audience doubled this year to over 20,000, and surpassed the break-even point. More than 80% of them were non-Korean Americans.
“More Korean companies need to take part in the festival for the K-CON to become a true Korea convention, not CJ’s own festivities,” said Kim Sang-hoon, business administration professor at Seoul National University. He went on, “I believe that the festival will spread the popularity of Hallyu to other industries like food and art.”