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KCON 2017 LA, the largest K-lifestyle festival


'KCON 2017 LA,' the world’s largest K-Lifestyle festival, which was held for three days from August 18 till August 20 in some of the most iconic address of the second largest city in the US, i.e. 'STAPLES Center' and the 'LA Convention Center,' drew 85,000 people. The number of audience members increased 8.5 times over 10,000 in 2012. It is the largest crowd in its history. As the size of the audience greatly increased year after year, the area of the convention center increased 1.5 times over last year to about 27,000m2 (8,200 pyeong), close to 4 times the size of a football field.

- The first to present the model of a Korean cultural festival

▲ The panoramic view of KCON 2017 at the LA Convention Center which was visited by 85,000 people

KCON, which celebrates its 6th anniversary this year, has spearheaded the spread of K-Culture in North America. The size of the event as well as the number of sponsors and participating SMEs, has greatly increased. A range of global enterprises in various areas, such as Toyota, Amazon, AT&T and State Farm, participated as partners, and a total of 68 SMEs, selected by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups/Korea Foundation for Cooperation of Large & Small Business, Rural Affairs and Korea International Trade Association, participated in the event. KCON made its presence known as a total platform utilizing the soft power known as Hallyu in the US, a symbol of global pop culture.

KCON is the first to present a model of the festival for a whole country with a focus on the popular cultural contents of this country. CJ has invested KRW 40 billion in North American KCON since 2012, where the cumulative number of audience members exceeded 200,000. Going beyond the spread of Hallyu and enhancement of the brand value of the country, CJ is reinforcing its foothold for making inroads into the North American market by supporting the sales promotion and export business meetings of promising SMEs which have difficulty with overseas expansion by their own efforts.

In particular, this KCON came into the spotlight as global enterprises engage in heated marketing competition by using K-Pop to win over millennial consumers. They made full use of the fact that eight out of 10 visitors to KCON are young consumers aged between 15 and 24.

- A 'Hot Place' captivating the future consumers of the US

▲ A total of 68 Korean SMEs participated in the sales promotion in the Korea Zone.

Toyota, a global automaker which has been the main sponsor for 4 years in a row, not only launched a booth at the convention, but also produced digital contents themed around ‘KCON’ this year. It produced original branded contents which depicted how popular K-Pop dancers traveled across the US and arrived at LA KCON while playing the various games showcased in Korean TV shows, and plans to unveil them in the second half of this year. Also at KCON, Toyota displayed models of mid-sized and compact cars preferred by the younger generation, and created a freewheeling atmosphere in which visitors to the booth can dance to K-Pop all day long.

State Farm, the largest insurance company in the US, introduced 360° VR contents at the booth, shot at New York KCON last year, and used various contents strategies to captivate North American Hallyu fans.

A Toyota official said, "CJ KCON, consisting of a lively convention like a festival and a dynamic K-Pop concert, is the ‘Hot Place’ captivating the future consumers of the US. Considering that the brands preferred by the younger generation are more likely to be expanded to other generations, KCON can be said to be the best marketing platform possible as more than 80% of the participants are in their teens and 20s."

- Various programs that allow you to enjoy Korean lifestyles

▲ A KCON fan tries on some Korean makeup at the SME beauty booth.

At the convention, which drew crowds to the LA Convention Center for a period of three days, 116 programs were carried out. Visitors could enjoy various kinds of Korean lifestyles, e.g. beauty, fashion and food. Cultural artists as well as Hallyu experts in different areas discussed various topics in the panel tent, and the audience members experienced K-Lifestyle first-hand in the workshop tent, e.g. K-Beauty tips provided by Korean beauty YouTubers; Experiencing dumplings and Gimbap; how to live as a foreigner in Korea; learning K-Pop dance; experiencing the games featured in Korean TV shows.

Also, at CJ Cultureplex in the convention center, various CJ brand and contents caught the eyes, ears and mouths of visitors, drawing favorable responses from global consumers. CJ E&M attracted attention by carrying out various marketing activities, such as games and contests utilizing its core contents such as 'Guardian: The Lonely and Great God' and 'Show Me the Money,' and CJ CGV took advantage of its own state-of-the-art imaging techniques, such as 4DX and ScreenX, to provide opportunities to experience thrilling images. The global Korean food brand 'bibigo' captured the taste buds of the audience with dumplings, Kimchi and traditional Korean sauces, and underscored the potential for globalizing Korean food. As a global logistics company, CJ Logistics operated a lounge exclusively for its customers in the US, and provided them with opportunities to experience various CJ brands.

Also, a booth was opened for the Girls’ Education Campaign, which CJ has conducted with UNESCO since 2014, and emphasized the importance of escaping poverty and overcoming discrimination through education, adding deep meaning to the event.

- The roaring attention of K-Pop fans is proven

▲ The panoramic view of the M Countdown performance attended by more than 29,000 fans

At the K-Pop concert ‘M Countdown,’ held on the nights of August 19 and 20 at STAPLES Center, 14 popular Hallyu stars, including GOT7, Girl’s Day, VIXX, Seventeen, Super Junior D&E, ASTRO, WJSN, Wanna One, KARD, Heize, NCT127 and SF9, appeared, and made the 29,000-strong audience go absolutely wild. The concert tickets were quickly sold out as soon as the reservations began last July, proving the intense interest of local fans who have been waiting for KCON for a full year.

"As years go by, the size of the non-Korean KCON fan base is increasing," said Kim Young-Dae, a music critic. "Hallyu, which started with K-Pop, transcended K-Drama into K-Lifestyle, transforming the image of Korea."

In fact, according to an overseas Hallyu survey conducted by the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange every year since 2012, when the respondents in the Americas were asked what images come to mind when they think about ‘Korea’ in 2016-2017, the most popular answers were Korean food and K-Pop, edging out the Korean War, automobiles and the IT industry.

In the survey of KCON New York visitors conducted by CJ last June, the respondents were most interested in Korean food, Hangeul and K-Fashion as well as K-Pop.