Making our way through the many overly stuffed aisles of Walmart, it was suddenly time to check into our flight. My husband and I stopped here for some last minute items for our upcoming trip to Los Angeles, California. I was put in charge of the shopping cart while he collected the items. He was unimpressed with my distracted pushing of the cart because I only had my phone to navigate through the airline website. It had gotten to the point to where I could no longer do 2 things at once. Yeah shocking. Pushing the cart to an aisle where no one was, I stepped aside to put all my attention to my phone for the check in. Going through, an opportunity arose that I was not expecting. In dark blue lettering, a message appeared on the website. “Would you like to change your flight?”
This question started our first trip to KCon LA at 2:00 am on a Thursday morning and a stream of good luck.
It was about 12:30 pm when we landed at LAX. It was a bit more hotter this time compared to last year when we visited Anaheim during the spring months to see BTS in concert. I’m a Texas girl so I’m no stranger to heat so I wasn’t too put off by it. We made our way through LAX this time like pros and even found the right spot for the Uber pickups. Last time, we called for Uber too soon and couldn’t find the designated area and we were like fish out of water in that huge airport.
When I prepared and planned for this, I decided that the circumstances that surrounded this trip could quite possibly be a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. So I went all out for our hotel stay and merchandise. My admin friends were gracious hosts that night and I knew I would be totally taken care of for the next 3 days by them at Kcon.
My husband and I stayed at the Omni and ended up too early for check in. I wasn’t expecting a room at 2:00 pm when check in was 2 hours away however the Omni did not disappoint. They had a lovely room available on the 15th floor with a wonderful view of LA. Third good luck for the day. (the second good luck was that I got a call in our Uber drive to the hotel for a job promotion). I was convinced I needed to play the lottery at this point. First bit of good luck was our flight. I received notification that my original flight was delayed by an hour and I would have ended up in LA by around 7:30-8:00 pm pst. Yeah, I totally dodged a bullet with that one and I was extremely thankful I had the sense and persuasion to have us take that earlier flight. First afternoon in LA was spent with my online friends that I help admin the Twitter page @The_Ahjummas. This was our first meeting ever after over a year of working together. We flew from Texas (myself) and from Chile (Mao) to be with our other 3 admins that reside in California already. We were invited to KCon LA as panelists for the Hallyu fans over 30 panel which was a first for us.
I still remember when it happened that KCon asked us. I was working the 9-6pm shift and I was just about to get off when my notifs were going off in KakaoTalk. I noticed the girls were “calling” my name to have me look at our chat. They shared with me the DM we received from KCon officially asking us to be panelists. I literally jumped all the way out the building and to my car that day. I will always remember those feelings. Ok back to the story.
If you weren’t aware, KCon is a Korean Convention dedicated to all things Korean. From their music, to their beauty products down to their culture and tourism. Its an immersion into a world that most don’t know about. It’s a magical place where like minded people can get together and talk over similar interests and appreciate the Korean world. I highly recommend making this a destination in your visit to Los Angeles if you plan to visit in August.
Friday was a free day and the day to check in for our panel badges. Jamie and I were able to pick up the badges for everyone since we were first to the badge location. We received so many nice goodies for participating in their panel that we were so humbled by it. They made us feel like celebrities when we’re just mere fangirls like everyone else. Feeling empowered to be the best fans over 30 we can be, we made our way into the convention and into euphoria. Further than what we could see, were many booths and vendors and people, all getting their piece of the KCon experience. I immersed myself into the hype of KCon. I wanted to get the most out of my time as it was my first time to KCon and first time on panel. I was beyond excited. I was beyond ecstatic. I don’t even know if there is an adjective to describe my feelings for the trip and KCon. It was truly ineffable.
I was your typical convention goer. With my husband and friends by my side, I was able to try on a traditional hanbok, collect Korean beauty care, watch choreographies, stand in line for goodies and take some really cool pics together. I ate beef bulgogi and had food envy when I saw someone walking around with a grilled squid. All the food trucks had so many delicious things to eat which were all Korean style foods that I wished I had a bigger stomach. One of the ahjummas (Jamie) had to leave at 5 and I took that opportunity to head back to the hotel with the hubs. It was a day of walking and talking and we were tired. I wore myself out and was ready for bed at 8pm like a good ahjumma. Plus I was still on central time lol, I hadn’t adjust yet to the west coast time zone yet.
Saturday was panel day. My husband decided to stay in the hotel the rest of the weekend so that he wouldn’t have to Uber back to the hotel on his own. This night included the concert so it was the right thing to do as he wasn’t able to go. Mao and Meesh picked me up from the hotel and Jamie was meeting us later. We did day 1 all over again basically on day 2 up until it was about an hour before our panel. Jamie arrived with the prizes and we set up our table. The maknaes (myself and Mao) were in charge of handing out the gifts for the winners of our games. On panel was The Ahjummas, The Kpopconverters, and Young Ajummah. We each did our intro of ourselves and started talking about the topic of kpop, being an older fan, kdramas, and fangirling as a whole. I was so impressed by all the similar fans that made it to our panel. We laughed, they got their opportunity to speak about their experiences and we found a lot of common ground. At the end they all came up to the panel to thank us. It was a bit overwhelming to receive all this positive feedback in person. We realized a long time ago that we older fans needed a place to fangirl which is how The Ahjummas started but we saw that there are still so many of us out there on our own, living and fangirling over Korean men/women or Korean music all by ourselves. I am extremely thankful for having a panel like the Hallyu fans over 30 because it is severely needed in this fangirl/fanboy world. We’re the minority here and finding others like us is a rare treat. Thanks to this panel, we got to meet some really great people, not only the ladies we paneled with but some influencers in the media. 😊 We met other panelists in the “green room” such as famous Youtuber Fei (heyitsfeiii), Jre (itsJRE) and KennyboySlay. And respected producer FormofTherapy along with Jeff Benjamin, Tamar Herman, Elizabeth Deluna (Youtuber consultant) and Liam McEwan. All these famous people right in front of our faces and the cool part is that they were all very gracious and nice and very accepting of our need for pics with them. A lucky day full of love and fun.
After panel, we spent the rest of the time enjoying more music, foods (which this time I had the spicy pork fries. YUM) and I loaded up on more Korean beauty products. The husband wasn’t around to watch my spending (I really shouldn’t be in charge of our finances lol). Although, he wouldn’t be too mad because everything I bought was a dollar or 2 for a dollar. Yeah, I know, a steal.
We ended the night in pit at the concert. I fangirled over Ailee, Momoland, Wannaone, In2It, Golden Child….ok I’m gonna be honest. I fangirled over all the performers that night. They were so amazing and incredibly fun to watch. The music was A+. We limped our way back to our cars and to our respective homes (hotel). We only stood in line for about an hour and a half but standing in pit and jumping around, basically fangirling to the max is what did us in. My feet appreciated the warm water in the tub that night. Jamie spent her night icing her feet too. We own our Ahjumma title.
Sunday was the last day of KCon and my last full day in California. I had another early morning flight which meant a 3:00 am wake up time. This morning I didn’t get to have my usual cup of coffee as the nice lady forgot to put cream and sugar. It was ok, I wasn’t going to let my lack of caffeine morning dictate the rest of my day. Arriving at KCon early for our last free day, I found the café on site so I could get my fix. Once I was fully caffeinated, we made our rounds again through the convention watching new performances and taking selfies with our fellow panel mates. Meesh and I tried our hand at winning 2 tickets to South Korea and regrettably failing. Although our confidence on winning would have said otherwise. Mao tried on traditional Hanboks while Meesh and I roamed around looking for new things to try. I was finding that each day at KCon brought on a new thing I didn’t see the time before. Basically you cant see it all in one day, you must go to all 3 days to fully absorb KCon and what they have to offer.
This day’s lunch brought fried chicken and rice in this most delicious sauce which I gladly shared with Mao later. It was big enough for 2 people. I opted to not get the fried squid that day because the line was super long and that vendor was really popular. Meesh was my partner in crime and she picked out pork belly tots that looked sinfully good. Once I was back inside the convention, I met up with Mao who was in the green room, appreciating a nice rest. From the upper level of the green room, we had a bird’s eye view of the whole convention.
Although the convention was filled with a lot of younger people, we never felt out of place. Even in the green room. 99% of them in there were younger than us (aside from our fellow panel mates). This is the world we live in and why we feel at home here. After spending 3 days at the convention, you can really see that the trolls you may experience on social media is really miniscule to the actual positive people out there who don’t care or accept you as you are. If you are looking for an experience different than an idol concert, then come here. You not only see many Kpop artists at once, you blend in with the crowd. You are no longer “the old one.” You are now “one of them.” I am making it my goal to come back to KCon again next year, even if we aren’t invited back to panel (although I really wish we are invited back). Not only would I get to see my Ahjumma friends but experience this world all over again with them together. They really made this trip more special.
We spent the last night at the concert. I fangirled over Seventeen. Hard. I love you Woozi! Ahem, sorry. The Ahjummas were spread out this night to grab the best photos of all the performers. We were sad when it ended. But as we made our way back to the cars, it hit me. The trip was over. I wasn’t going to see these great ladies after this moment, not in person anyway. The memories were ending and I could no longer plan the next day of events. I turned around to face them to say my goodbyes and I cried. I initially thought I was gonna cry seeing them for the first time but I didn’t. I was overjoyed. But that night I cried in the parking garage which led them to cry as well. I was the first to leave them out of Mao and I and it was incredibly unfair. I was wishing I had planned it better and stayed longer. So many should’ve’s, couldve’s, and would’ve’s ran through my mind. I wasn’t bitter about it though. Instead I used it as motivation for my trip next year. Because I will be back next year. I promise you that. KCon LA is worth the 4 hour flight and my friends are worth the many many hours of memories we will create.
In closing I will say that my husband gave me many cuddles that night and saw the importance of this trip. It made our small world seem bigger in a positive way. Next time I will take my daughter who is a devout multistan, much more than myself. This world would be complete with her in it and she can meet my friend’s daughters who also share the same passions. I’m thankful for creating life long friends in them. And this is how it starts. Generation to generation, introductions to introductions of Kpop or Korea food or dramas or whatever Hallyu thing you find common ground with. This is what builds the Hallyu world. My entire trip was based on one lucky event after another. I do think I, myself, am lucky, because of who I have in my life, who I have met along the way. BTS brought me here several years ago and I have Meesh, Jamie, Mao, and Emily thanks to them.
When it comes to Hallyu and Texas, bigger is better.