top of page

A Trip To K-Poppia - KCON LA 2023 Event Recap

By Kya Brogdon | 2 September, 2023

Los Angeles Convention Center & Arena - Los Angeles, CA (August 18th-20th, 2023)

All photo credit to CJ ENM


On the third weekend of August, entertainment company CJ ENM successfully held its 11th celebration of Korean lifestyle, culture, and music - KCON - in downtown Los Angeles. Drawing a crowd of around 140,000 to its on-site events, as well as 5.9 million viewers from all over the world to its live stream option. With hundreds of booths and programs, as well as dozens of convention appearances from the idol groups in the concert line-up, there was something for everyone to enjoy each day of the convention. This year KCON held concerts on all three nights of the event, rather than just Saturday and Sunday like they have in the past. With the amount of things going on the entire day, I inevitably had to miss some of the appearances and panels throughout the weekend, but I’m extremely happy with how my trip turned out.



Walking into the first day of the convention, I thought I knew what to expect since this was my second year attending KCON. Even though this year’s event was held in a different part of the convention center, I thought I had my plan for the day down to the minute - something a lot of people had to do, in order to maximize their time and their ability to see all of the panels, programs, and idol appearances happening from the very start of Day One. However, I had forgotten to account for the sheer amount of booths and photo spots. The skincare, lifestyle, and fashion booths were stocked full of their respective brands, as well as some iconic K-pop album shops like K-pop Nation and Choice Music. Between those, were many themed booths for photos - a cute spring-style spot from Rakuten Viki, a polaroid prop from Pocamarket, as well as many KCON-specific themed spots throughout the convention floor. I made sure to visit the KQ Booth (the company behind two of my favorite idol groups, ATEEZ and xikers) and collect freebies throughout the convention.

After exploring the convention floor and meeting up with my friends, we decided to hang out at one of the idol appearance spaces - Star Square - in order to see one of the KCON Showcase artists and a group that I adore: JUST B. After greeting us, each of the Just B members took turns playing a mass game of rock paper scissors with the crowd until there was one winner, who received a signed mini album. Despite the chaoticness of playing rock paper scissors with a hundred people, it was really fun to be able to see the Just B members interacting with their fans and to see just how many ONLY B there were at the convention.

kcon la

The KCON Stage was the place to be all day. With the day's stage lineup consisting of WayV, NMIXX, CRAVITY, and SHOWNU & HYUNGWON (MONSTA X), the crowd never seems to dissipate in between each of the appearances. Answering questions, playing games, and overall interacting with fans, the KCON Stage allowed artists and fans to connect with each other before the concert, and even tease a little of the setlist for that night. One of my favorite moments from this area was watching Shownu and Hyungwon trying to remember the dances to some of their older songs and getting flustered when some fans in the crowd were able to pick up the choreography before they were.

kcon 2023

Another popular booth on the convention floor was the KCONer’s Choice booth, where those who bought the MNET KCON Membership could vote on which group to decorate a booth for. The winners for KCON LA 2023 were none other than the “New Kidz on the Block,” ZEROBASEONE. Decorated in their signature blue and showcasing all of the members - ZEROSE’s, casual fans, and non-fans were able to enjoy all the love and support poured into the booth for this group.


While I wasn’t able to attend this night’s concert, I know from the mass of Twitter and TikTok clips that the night consisted of nothing but talent, iconic moments, and pure joy. From WayV performing the iconic signal song “Poppia,” and just Taemin existing, I will forever regret not being able to go to this night of the show. Here are some photos of the night, provided by CJ ENM:



kcon 2023 recap

Day Two of the convention brought yet another first-time event for KCON LA, the KPOP VILLAGE by KIIS FM. Held just outside the convention center’s entrance, the KPOP VILLAGE had a Ferris wheel for the convention go-ers, as well as multiple artist appearances for interviews with JoJo from KIIS FM. Despite the hot weather, people packed the KPOP VILLAGE, enjoying this new part of the convention.

kcon 2023

Inside, my friends and I once again hung

out around the KCON Stage, this time waiting to see my rookies of the year - xikers. They took the stage amongst cheers loud enough to rival an actual concert, and you could tell by their faces that they did not expect to have this many fans come to see them. The name of their stage was “Let's Klass,” which involved each member or groups of members taking turns to teach the crowd something about Korean culture or Korean music. Members Sumin, Seeun, and Yujun showed us a leg stretching game (Yujun won), and members Minjae, Hunter, and Yechan did something akin to a random play dance, where a snippet of the song played to the audience. We had to shout back the name of the song in order for the members to dance to it (the very first song was “BOUNCY” by ATEEZ, xikers’ senior group, and the crowd went wild when they started dancing to it). After their “klass,” xikers surprised their fans with a special dance stage performance - a mashup of “Tricky House,” “Koong,” “Rockstar,” and “DO or Die.”

After grabbing our daily dose of McDonald’s french fries and ice cream, my friends and I headed out to the concourse to line up for the Red Carpet before the show that night. The excitement was palpable. This event is something I’ve never been able to experience myself, so it was yet another first for this year’s KCON weekend. After we were let in the room, we were greeted by the Red Carpet MC, eSNa, who helped keep the energy of the crowd up for each group as they came out on the stage. The groups waved to their fans as they walked onto the stage, posed for photos, and answered a few questions from eSNa - who continuously tried to get setlist spoilers for the audience, but all of the idols had their secrets on lock - although, doing the point choreography right before getting off stage isn’t really that subtle.

kcon la recap


There is truly nothing like walking into a concert venue, finding your section and your row and your seat, and realizing you are so much closer to the stage than you even imagined. For last year's KCON, I was in the 300 sections of the arena, but this year I was able to secure a seat in the 100 sections for Saturday’s concert. When I sat down in my seat, I had to take a moment to really let it sink in how close I was to the stage. Since KCON runs on 360 stage, the set up for the platform is in the middle of the venue, rather than on one of the ends like at other concert venues, so my seat in one of the middle sections of the 100s was pretty much eye level with the stage.

The show started with two opening acts from KCON’s SHOWCASE: NICE TO MEET U - a program where six groups held showcases during the convention to reach new fans and introduce themselves to KCONers. Tonight’s openers were girl group CRAXY and boy group VeriVery - both of whom absolutely killed the stage and started off the night on the perfect note. I don’t really fully stan either of these groups, but I loved their sets and their stage presence. I can absolutely see them coming back as main acts for KCON in the next year or two.

This night’s line-up consisted of ATEEZ, INI, Kep1er, RAIN, xikers, XG, and ZEROBASEONE. After the SHOWCASE openers, the audience was treated to a special stage line-up showcasing the “past, present, and future” of K-pop. XG rocked their cover of 2NE1’s “I’m The Best,” xikers lit up the stage with their cover of BTS’s “Fire,” and ATEEZ performed one of my all-time favorite songs to hear them do live, “WONDERLAND (Symphony No.9 “From The Wonderland”.)” I was not prepared to see ATEEZ on stage this early in the night, I don’t think the shock really wore off until they left the stage, and INI got on stage and the opening notes to “FANFARE” rang out through the arena.

After a vibrant performance from INI, we were treated to back-to-back girl groups in Kep1er and XG. Much to my delight, Kep1er performed their iconic b-side “Back to the City,” and XG showed off their power with their performance of “GIRL GVNG.” I’m mainly a boy group follower, but every year I’m constantly impressed by the girl group performances.

Next to take the stage was xikers, who opened their set with a special performance from their rap line - Minjae, Sumin, and Yechan. A special surprise came in the fact that Sumin and Yechan started the song by dancing down the aisles of the 100 sections before finally getting on the stage - the aisle of the section I just so happened to be in. Although they only debuted in March of this year, xikers’ stage presence is as captivating as seasoned professionals. Whether they’re performing their hard-hitting heavy EDM tracks like “DO or Die” or their softer, nostalgic-filled songs like “HOMEBOY,” they easily turned everyone in that audience into a road𝓨 after their stage.

The special MC for the night was RAIN, who also performed some of his iconic hits like “Rainism.” After RAIN, KCONers were treated to the first-ever US appearance of MNET’s newest group - ZEROBASEONE. The crowd was electric, despite the group not having an official lightstick yet, fans - called ZEROSES - and even casual listeners waved other groups' lightsticks in a mass show of support for the rookies. Opening their set with their debut song “In Bloom,” I couldn’t help but dance along to the catchy melody and even do some of the choreography that I know from my seat. ZEROBASEONE also held the Dream Stage for this night of the concert, surrounded by their fans as they performed their signal song from their survival show Boys Planet. “Here I Am” is one of my favorite signal songs from a show, and even though this song performance was spoiled when KCON announced the Dream Stage auditions, I was really excited to see it done live by the group and the fans.

Then, finally, was the moment I personally had been waiting for since the line-up was announced in June. ATEEZ arrived on stage to close out the show, opening with their latest title track “BOUNCY (K-HOT CHILLI PEPPERS).” I’d been looking forward to seeing this song live since the moment the teasers dropped during their comeback promotions, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. I realized about halfway through this song that this was the closest seat I’ve had out of all of the times I’ve seen ATEEZ, and just that thought made me a little emotional. ATEEZ has been my favorite group for almost three years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen them perform four times between different tours and KCON appearances. After their first stage, the boys played a game with the audience where they copied different poses from audience members, and then they launched into a special stage called “Hi My First,” where they performed their very first song “Pirate King.”

To everyone’s surprise, the boys then launched into a performance of their iconic pre-debut song “From.” Once again, I was emotional, “From” is a song ATEEZ recorded when they were still rookies under the name KQ FELLAS, and thinking about how far they’ve come since those days brings me to tears almost instantly. My emotions soon turned to shock when I realized that the members of ATEEZ were climbing down from the stage to go into the crowd - once again dancing and singing up the aisles of the section that I was sitting in. Being able to see the members of my favorite group so close was absolutely incredible, and something that I truly will never forget. Finishing out their set with “Guerrilla,” the rest of the night's artists then joined ATEEZ on stage to say goodbye and wave to all of the fans as the night drew to a close.



kcon convention

On our last day of the convention, my friends and I spent the morning taking more photos and getting some more freebies from the booth. One of my favorites is the KCON ID card, where you can take a photo of yourself and then put it in a decorated toploader just like people do with K-pop photocards. The ID also had spots for you to put your name, ult bias, and the year you got into K-Pop. It was a cute little memento, and seeing it displayed on my desk now will forever remind me of this weekend. After this, I went to visit THE BOYZ’s fanclub event that was happening upstairs in the concourse. Inside, everyone wrote their name and bias on a name tag, collected some THE BOYZ-specific freebies, and spent some time getting to know other fans. KCON had fan clubs for every group/artist at the convention throughout the weekend, and I’m happy I was able to stop by and finally experience one of them this year.

kcon 2023 recap

Making our way back to the convention floor, my friends and I saw people crowding around the Samsung Booth and decided to join the crowd. To our surprise, we were soon greeted by the members of ATEEZ (minus Jongho, who left to go back to Korea to receive medical care for his injured ankle. Rest and recover well, Jongho! We miss you.). They took turns coming to greet their fans in the crowd and take selfies on the Samsung phones. Somehow we got lucky enough that we walked up about five minutes before the appearance and were able to get two rows from the barricade, granting us an amazing view of the members as they walked around the booth.

After saying our reluctant goodbyes, we headed back over once again to the KCON Stage to see JUST B’s showcase. Performing some of their iconic songs like “Damage” and “Get Away,” the cheers of the crowd rivaled those of any concert - and also may have covered up the earthquake that hit about eighty miles west of Los Angeles.


Despite the cloudy and rainy weather, the last night of the concerts went on as scheduled. This night’s line-up consisted of EVERGLOW, ITZY, JO1, (G)I-DLE, Lapillus, Stray Kids, and THE BOYZ, as well as the SHOWCASE artists who opened the show - JUST B and RIIZE. For this night, I was seated in the 200s section, not as close as the night before but not at all a bad view of the stage. I was on the opposite side of the arena than I was on Saturday, which allowed me to get a new perspective on the crowd and the stage.

JUST B opened the show by performing two of my favorites, “ME= (NANEUN)” and “RE=LOAD,” and it was absolutely incredible to be able to finally see them on a big stage (JUST B tour when? They better have a stop in Arizona). Pre-debut group RIIZE performed with the stage presence of a seasoned group. Their song, “Memories” has been on repeat for me ever since I heard it live. I know they have a bright future ahead of them, and I’m looking forward to their official debut come September.

For one of the special stages of this night, the audience was treated to a collab stage from the members of EVERGLOW and Lapillus, showing off their powerful dance styles and moves. JO1 took the stage after, giving us a dose of summer despite the rain with their performance of “RadioVision” before its release date in September. Later, they would come back to the stage and rock their cover of “Super” by SEVENTEEN, which was of course an immense crowd-pleaser. Lapillus returned to perform their songs “HIT YA!” and “Who’s Next,” and I’m still obsessed with their shiny red boxer-style stage outfits for their set. EVERGLOW’s set consisted of their newly released title track “SLAY” as well as two of my favorite songs, “LA DI DA” and “DUN DUN.” Both of which were accompanied by loud and proud fan chants from everyone in the audience.

ITZY was the next group to grace the stage, starting their set off with their latest song “CAKE.” ITZY held this night's Dream Stage, and seeing all of the fans participate in the iconic choreo from “WANNABE” was everything I could have hoped for. Even in the stands, we were all dancing along. Continuing with the iconic performances, (G)I-DLE performed three of their biggest hits to date - “TOMBOY,” “MY BAG,” and “Queencard.” I didn’t think fan chants could get any louder, but I would be surprised if there was a single person in that crowd who didn’t sing along to “Queencard.”

In the second special stage of the night, KCONers were privileged to a unit stage by members of THE BOYZ, who performed their unit song “Passion Fruit” from their latest album. Being able to see this song live before music show promotions was so fun, we had no idea what to expect choreography-wise as they had never performed it live before. THE BOYZ came back on stage as a full group to perform “LIP GLOSS” and “THRILL RIDE,” as well as play a game of Dance Dance - where the screens gave emoji hints to a song and if the audience guessed it right, members of THE BOYZ would then showcase a bit of that song’s choreography. I was smiling the entire time watching them jump around and dance to the songs on stage. THE BOYZ are truly a group that knows how to have the most fun on stage even when they aren’t performing.

For this night’s closers, the roar of the crowd was the loudest I’ve ever heard as the name Stray Kids flashed on the screens. If you hadn't already seen all of the other groups perform, you would’ve thought you had stumbled your way into a Stray Kids concert. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen Stray Kids three times on their tour and at last year's KCON - this was easily the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd be for them. They started their set with “S-Class,” and you couldn’t even hear the opening whistle notes of the song due to the volume of the crowd. The energy was nothing less than insane, and you could tell that the members could also feel the energy from the crowd.

Stray Kids also participated in the “Hi My First” stage, performing their iconic debut song “District 9,” with the entire crowd shout-singing “Stray Kids everywhere all around the world.” They proved everyone’s speculations correct when they performed “Super Bowl,” and shook the arena to its core with the powerful chorus of “God’s Menu.” Closing out the night with “TOPLINE,” Stray Kids went into the crowd and danced with fans as the venue held their own with fan chants. I know they recently finished a tour, but I’m already saving up for their inevitable return so I can see them for the sixth time. They always put on incredible shows, regardless of whether it’s a full headliner tour or a festival set.

Overall, despite some of the differences and the pack schedules, I would consider this year's KCON a success for myself. I was able to experience so many booths and appearances from groups I adore, and the concert nights I was able to attend were nothing short of iconic. I’m already preparing for next year’s con, and I can’t wait to see the line-up and what new ideas they bring to the event.

kcon la 2023


bottom of page