Hallyu Con 2023 in London: Calligraphy, Working in Hallyu, GSoul and more

May S

Hallyu Con "Where Korea Meets You" is an annual event celebrating Korean culture in London. This year, the festivities were made even more special, as we celebrated 140 years of UK-Korea relations. The event was hosted by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, My Wave Collective, Radio Kimchi UK, AZIZA Dance Crew, as well as event presenter and Hallyu Con co-founder Shai (@thekway_official). This year it occured on Sat October 14th at the Samsung KX Venue.  

Packed with activities, performances and tasty treats, the convention brought the best of Korea to London. So whether you missed it, or just wanted a recap - this was Hallyu Con 2023.


Aside from the oncoming main stage events, the convention hosted a series of tables - mostly of small businesses. 

The first was Korean calligraphy by Hangeul Calligraphy London
(@hangeul_calligraphy_london), hosted by father-daughter duo Kil-Chan Lee and Tae-Young Lee, where they wrote your name in beautiful Hangeul calligraphy using a traditional calligraphy brush. Kil-Chan Lee has been doing calligraphy in the UK for over a decade, and is also an instructor in the art.

Next was a photo booth by Candid Studios, where you could take fun pictures of you and your friends - complete with cute accessories. The images were available both as prints, with the rest ready to download digitally. Founded by sisters Lily and Aimee, Candid employs the unique concept of having no other photographer in the room, giving you complete privacy as the camera is operated solely by you via remote control.

Another stall by MOiM held a series of cute polyester dish scrubs and ornaments. The host, James Lee, stated that his partner makes them by hand, and had studied textiles at Central St Martins and now hosts classes in North London.

The next table over was held by K-Pop Dreams with K-Pop merchandise, as well as a few K-Beauty items. On the topic of beauty - guests could also opt to get their nails done by experienced nail artist JamyGelz at her nail table. Guests also had the opportunity to try on and take photos in Hanboks with London Hanbok!

Throughout the event, refreshments were provided by Little Korea London, who provided delicious classic and fruity teas - complete with toppings and cute cup holders - and Korean lunch sets which guests could enjoy as they sat for the main events.

Main Stage:

The stage events were hosted by Shai, one of the founders of Hallyu Con with co-founder Nilza

The first event was a cooking demonstration by Hanok in London with Hong-Joo Jeong, who demonstrated how to make various traditional Korean rice cake dishes such as seolttang, baek seolgi, and seongpyeon - a coloured rice cake carved into fun shapes, and filled with sweet sesame filling. Delicate, floral shaped samples of the latter were given out to the audience, as she stated how she would colour the dough with pumpkin and mugwort.

Hong-Joo Jeong from Hanok in London

Next was a traditional fusion music performance by KAYA, and dancer Yerin Lee. The musical group was comprised of Ji-Eun Jeong on the Kayagum (traditional Korean instrument), Min-Hee Cho on the flute, and Sung-Jee Lee on the keyboard. The trio played a series of songs, ranging from beautifully serene to epic and dramatic, as well as the OST "Lovers" from the 2010 Kdrama "추노/The Slave Hunters". Ji-Eun Jeong even favoured the audience with her melancholic vocals, accompanied by an emotional intrumental by her colleagues. Dancer Yerin Lee occasionally joined them, exuding elegance and grace as she swanned across the stage in a delicate, floating gown. Yerin returned as a solo act, concluding the stage with a dramatic fan dance.

Seung-Jee Lee on Keyboard (Left), Ji-Eun Jung on Kayagum (Centre), and Min-Hee cho on Flute (Right).

Yerin Lee, Dancer.

The next event was a panel about "Working in Hallyu". The guests were comprised of various figures working in the industry such as:

- Woogie (@misterwoogie) -  A Korean performance and event organiser in Europe.
- Becky (@hangukhapa) - Who promotes Korean culture and was, in fact, wearing a modern hanbok by Korean designer Leesle
- Song-Jae Kong (@koreanbilly) - Who makes humorous british culture content, with the philosophy that humour unites us.
- Margarita (@mangorrita) - A Korean culture and language YouTuber.
- Nati (@nati.tadesse_) - Who was a guest on Korean Englishmen, and now makes Korean food content.
- Rollin (@rollinjoint) - Who reviews and recommends Asian restaurants, including unique items on Korean restaurant menus that the general public may not know about.
- Anjola (@anjieluvsyou) - A star-clad model and beauty content creator who involves herself with Korean beauty and trends to make them more accessible to black and darker skinned audiences. 

From Left to Right: Woogie, Becky, Song-Jae Kong, Shai, Margarita, Nati, Rollin, and Anjola.

The panel spoke about their inspirations, personal growth and how they stay motivated. They noted how happy they are that Korean culture is so widely accepted now, compared to how it used to be while they were growing up. Woogie mentioned how he was surprised about the global popularity of K-Pop, especially in UK where he is based. The panelists stated that they found motivatation in their love of what they do, as well as in meeting like-minded individuals. They were asked if they had advice for any up-and-comers, to which there was a general consensus that the only way is to be brave and get your ideas out there before it's too late, with Anjola stating that "ideas have a shelf-life", and that persistence is key. The panel ended on a lighter note with Rollin's favourite resturant, which he stated is currently "Kangnam Pocha" near Covent Garden. 

The next panel was with esteemed choreographer Jay Kim (@jaykiman), who was accompanied by his manager Woogie. Jay was a former One Million Dance Studio instructor, and trained the likes of popular acts such as The BoyzLuhan and Jay Park. The topic of motivation and inspiration rose again, with Jay stating that he gets "inspiration from life" when he spends time with friends and family. His advice for aspiring dancers is that he strongly recommends geting formal training as having the core fundamentals is what separates amateurs from strong, well-rounded performers. Jay stated that, if given the chance, he would like to choreograph for Seventeen, Stray Kids, and maybe Coldplay as he often gets inspiration from UK artists. Being in the dance industry, he mentioned how he doesn't have a favourite dance style, but enjoys the creativity of contemporary and ballet, as well as highly expressive styles like Taemin. The panel ended with a fun fact about him, to which he replied "I'm a very boring person" and is in fact, a homebody, which many found to be relateable. Jay Kim is currently touring his dance workshop across Europe, with his manager Woogie.

Jay Kim with manager Woogie and presenter Shai.

Drawing to an end, next was possibly the highlight of the event; a performance by K-R&B singer-songwriter GSoul. The artist performed some of his greatest hits such as "Tequila (Feat. HOODY)", "Natural", "Hate Everything" and more, gracing the audience with his soulful voice before sitting down for an interview.

GSoul stated that he wrote his new ep whilst undergoing his military enlistment. He noted that it was an intense environment, and wanted to write something "beautiful" to turn something negative, into something positive. He also mentioned that we can expect more collaborations coming, as he had already featured on Epik High's "End of the World" in 2021, and with Joohoney on "Monologue" in 2023. The interview took a humorous turn with the story of his old, pet turtle. GSoul stated how he was an animal lover in high school, and decided to purchase a turtle as they seemed to be fairly low-maintenance pets. However, one day it disappeared and never came back. 

Gsoul and presenter Shai.

The conversation steered back towards music as he was asked about his dream collaborations, to which he replied with Amy Winehouse, as "she's alive in [his] heart", and Sam Smith. The interview concluded with his thoughts on the industry; how it had changed with technology, a fun tidbit about how he was actually a morning person, and how he gained inspiration from seeing his fans.

In a final group photo, the Director of the Korean Culture Centre UK Dr. Seunghye Sun thanked everyone for celebrating Korean culture, ending with a sweet "I love you everybody". The event then ended with a random play dance, hosted by the AZIZA dance crew.

With that, Hallyu Con 2023 was concluded. If you missed out on the festivities, you can always keep an eye out for next years events by following Hallyu Con on their social media @hallyucon.

Until then, for more on your favourite idols and other events near you, be sure to follow KpopWise.

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