This may come across as counterintuitive to some, but with all the attention and hype K-pop is getting from abroad, the idea that music fans in South Korea are sometimes left out in the cold by the industry is not entirely a far-fetched notion.
KCON, which started in 2012, has established itself as an annual K-pop pilgrimage gathering abroad, while chances of seeing big names, such as EXO and BTS, are probably higher overseas, given their hectic world tour schedules.
This is of course due to economics, as companies and management agencies try to expand their stars' international clout -- and thus revenue -- given the limited growth potential at home. But still, there always has been a nagging sense of neglect among local fans, especially against the ever-growing KCON abroad.
Thus CJ E&M, together with its music television subsidiary Mnet, has moved to address this void amongst die-hard K-pop fans at home, presenting them the first-ever "idolCON" at the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in southern Seoul on Friday and Saturday.
What exactly is "idolCON"? It's basically an expo-style convention where fans can watch K-pop stars perform and interact with them. Programs include fan meet-and-greets, mini-live shows, radio shows and on-the-spot idol auditions that are also scheduled throughout the two-day event.
Attendees with talent who are interested in becoming a singer can also receive lessons from industry experts and also get inside glimpses of the industry from stars' actual managers as well.
What distinguishes "idolCON" from KCON is its freshness, not just of the event itself but also of the stars taking part in it. B1A4, Gugudan, DAY6, Oh My Girl and other artists are relatively well-known by now. But other teams, such as KNK, Vromance and Imfact, are groups that are quite new and at the moment obscure.
Several soon-to-debut idol groups by the names of S.I.S, G9, Black Mamba, Dayday, P.O.P and more will also showcase their skills pre-debut during the event.
"I'm a big Gugudan fan, but I like that I can watch other groups as well, especially new rookie teams and other groups that haven't made their official debuts yet," said Kim Ae-ran, a 16-year-old attendee who came from Daegu, on Friday.
"We hope to establish 'idolCON' into a massive K-pop event, a stepping stone for fresh K-pop artists to make their names in the future," a CJ E&M representative said. (Yonhap)