CJ E&M (CEO Kim Sung-soo) held KCON 2017 New York on June 23 (Fri) and 24 (Sat) in NYC, showcasing the results of its six-year efforts to spread the ‘K Lifestyle.’
Most notably, this year's KCON was sponsored not only by Toyota (title sponsor) for the fourth straight year but also by global IT companies such as Amazon, AT&T, and State Farm, as well as leading U.S. telecommunication companies and insurance companies, attesting to the prestigious status of KCON and the ‘Korean Wave’ which has established itself as mainstream culture in the U.S.
▲ ‘Hallyu’ evolved into the ‘mainstream culture’ in the U.S., the center of world culture, with CJ E&M’s KCON established itself as a representative Korean Wave platform in the country
CJ E&M has been taking the lead in spreading the ‘K-Lifestyle’ by hosting the world’s largest comprehensive Hallyu festival, KCON, in North America, Central and South America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, a total of 14 times for the past six years, after launching the inaugural event in Irvine, California in 2012. Among the various locations, the U.S. is the hub of KCON, accounting for about 64% (309,000 people) of the total global audience (460,000 people).
This year’s event, held for two days at the Prudential Center in New Jersey with the slogan ‘LET’S KCON,’ drew a total of 43,000 spectators, including 120 cultural icons and artists and 100 companies and institutions, an obvious indication of the continued popularity of the Korean Wave, which has established itself as a 'mainstream culture' in the U.S. This year, the convention programs doubled compared to the previous year so that local audiences can experience a wider range of Hallyu contents, with the focus placed on the expansion of the ‘K Lifestyle’ by launching or enhancing experiential programs such as a dance workshop where audiences aged 15 to 24, who make up the majority of KCON audiences, could participate.
Starting with KCON LA in 2014, Toyota has participated as a title sponsor for four consecutive years including this year, attesting to KCON's status as a 'global marketing platform' in the region. Most notably, the world-class IT company Amazon, the largest telecommunication company AT&T in the U.S., and State Farm, a leading insurance company, participated in KCON sponsorship for the first time this year, creating a variety of programs for young participants and attracting the attention of local audiences and media outlets.
Amazon Coins, a subsidiary of Amazon, held an e-sports competition Mobile Masters Invitational’ over two days at the KCON 2017 NY venue, and broadcasted the tournament live all over the world through Twitch. Convention ticket holders could enjoy KCON while enjoying the live streaming. It is slated to be broadcast as a regular program on the CBS Sports channel of the U.S. two weeks after the end of KCON. An official of Amazon said, “Given the fact that the KCON venue maximizes the image of Korea as a gaming powerhouse and an IT powerhouse in addition to the fact that the majority of the KCON visitors are between the ages of 15 and 24 who are proficient in digital and games, we have decided to hold the game tournament in conjunction with KCON.”
An official from CJ E&M said, “Since 2012, we have provided new growth engines for domestic and foreign companies in the U.S., centered on Hallyu, while continuously striving to spread K-Lifestyle including K-pop and K-food represented by ‘K-culture’ to locals. We are seeing the efforts bear fruit.”
▲ K-Food pavilion and Beauty Block doubled in size over the previous year ‘to provide a holistic experience of K-Lifestyle’
For two days from June 23 (Fri) to 24 (Sat), conventions featuring various K-contents were held during the daytime while performances were presented in the evening by a total of 9 teams of artists including TWICE, GFRIEND, HIGHLIGHT, and Zion.T.
The conventions held from 10 AM to 6 PM on both days presented the audience with various programs at different stages and booths, such as ▲Bingsu (Korean shaved ice) making, ▲K-pop fashion talk show, ▲Aegyo (being cute) battle with audiences, ▲Discussion of next-generation K-drama stars, in addition to programs in which popular YouTube creators in Korea and the U.S. participated as panels, such as: ▲‘Light Makeup’ lecture, ▲Men’s beauty class, ▲Discussion on the cultural differences of Hallyu, ▲Guide to ways to study in Korea. In addition, new programs enabling the audience to comprehensively experience the K-Lifestyle were very well received, and they included ▲Pyeongchang 2018 & K-Tour Zone for the experience of K-culture, ▲K-Food pavilion, ▲K-pop dance workshop, ▲Beauty Block for the experience of K-beauty products.
With an aim to promote Korea, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) participated in KCON jointly with the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee and Gangwon-do. For the successful hosting of the 'PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games,’ they made various efforts to promote the winter Olympics as well as Korean tourism, such as ▲Operation of the PyeongChang 2018 Tourism Promotion Booth at KCON Convention ▲Appointment of K-Pop Idol Star (HIGHLIGHT) as ‘2018 Pyeongchang Tourism Ambassador’ ▲A 20-minute promotional event for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics before the start of the concert on the 23rd. Min Min-Hong, head of the International Tourism Strategy Division at the KTO, said, ""We are ratcheting up our efforts to attract U.S. tourists to Korea to diversify our country’s tourism market, which is concentrated in China and Japan,"" adding, ""We expect that our endeavors to promote Korean tourism and PyeongChang 2018 in connection with KCON among Americans will bring positive outcomes.”
In the evening, the ‘M Countdown’ concert captivated concertgoers. On the 23rd, 'GFRIEND,' 'HIGHLIGHT,' 'KNK,’ 'SF9,' 'Zion.T' performed followed by stage shows by, 'CNBLUE,' 'NCT 127,’ 'TWICE' and 'UP10TION' on the 24th. The audience, who packed the 10,000-seat concert hall for two days in a row, enjoyed the festival together by singing along in Korean and dancing.
Shin Hyung-gwan, who oversees KCON as CJ E&M’s head of Music Contents Division, said, “I believe that 'K-culture,' represented by 'Korean Wave,' has settled down as a mainstream culture in the U.S. and greatly expanded its influence through the continued expansion of its scale and the participation in it by global companies as sponsors, which is the fruit of CJ E&M’s efforts to spread the Korean Wave in the region by holding KCON in LA and New York since 2012,” adding, “CJ E&M will continue to hold KCON, where visitors can comprehensively experience various K-lifestyles, taking the lead in making K-lifestyle a global mainstream culture and allowing people around the world to enjoy it together.”
Meanwhile, CJ E&M is planning to hold KCON in LA for three days from August 18th to 20th to sustain the momentum of Hallyu in the U.S., as KCON has started to open new Hallyu markets in new regions this year. CJ E&M's strategy is to develop Hallyu, which has emerged as a culture and a new growth engine, into a business model through global industrialization, while at the same time developing new markets in full force and playing a pivotal role in promoting K-Lifestyle as a global mainstream culture as an international partner of global corporations.