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K-pop acts Heize, Lovelyz and JBJ95 perform a free concert on the roof of Buena Park’s The Source OC

Heize
Heize, who headlined the Nov. 9 K-Content Expo concert at The Source OC, elicits cheers from the crowd as she begins her set with “She’s Fine.”
(James Carbone)

For Kenta Takada and Kim Sang-gyun of the K-pop duo JBJ95, their performance at the K-Content Expo in Buena Park last weekend marked their first visit to the U.S.

Sang-gyun wanted to go to Santa Monica — “because I played ‘Grand Theft Auto V,’ which is based around there” — and the two of them met Buena Park Mayor Art Brown.

“When I saw that other [Korean] artists got a video with the Houston mayor, I also wanted to meet the mayor of Buena Park,” Sang-gyun said.

K-Content Expo Los Angeles
Kenta Takada and Kim Sang-gyun of JBJ95 answer fan questions during the K-Content Expo 2019 Los Angeles at The Source OC in Buena Park.
(James Carbone)
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It was also the K-Content Expo’s first event in the U.S., having previously taken place in the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Indonesia.

It was hosted in partnership with several of South Korea’s government agencies (including the Ministry of Culture) and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA).

The goal was to promote various aspects of Korean culture — from food, beauty, and Korean dramas to music, animation and comics.

K-Content Expo Los Angeles
Lovelyz opened the concert at the K-Content Expo 2019 Los Angeles at The Source OC on Nov. 9.
(James Carbone)

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Three of South Korea’s most popular acts— Lovelyz, JBJ95 and Heize — were the main draw of the expo, which also included a K-Content fair.

Tickets to the concert were free and sold out online within 20 minutes. Fans lined up in the early morning hours to get the best seats.

“We had a list of K-pop groups that we wanted to bring over, and these three were the most interested [in] working in the U.S.” said Chul Min Kim, director of KOCCA’s Global Business Division. “And [they] have big fan bases here as well.”

K-Content Expo Los Angeles
Fans of JBJ95 cheer as they perform during the K-Content Expo 2019 Los Angeles on the rooftop of The Source OC in Buena Park.
(James Carbone)

K-pop events in Southern California are often held in L.A.’s bustling Koreatown and downtown areas. In contrast, The Source provided a spacious, low-key and family-friendly environment to enjoy the expo.

There were hitches, including power outages, but in between technical difficulties, Heize encouraged her fans to come up and take selfies with her as the staff worked toward a solution. An enthusiastic fan dressed in an Olaf onesie gave her an Olaf doll.

K-Content Expo Los Angeles
A fan of Heize gives her a sign during the K-Content Expo 2019 Los Angeles on Nov. 9.
(James Carbone)

She also called a fan up to the stage to perform Girlboy’s rap in their song “We don’t talk together.”

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“That was an improv moment I’ve never done in the U.S.,” Heize said. “Next time, I want to have a big announcement beforehand, so people are ready for us to collaborate on stage.”

K-Content Expo Los Angeles
Lovelyz perform their hit songs “Hi,” “Ah-Choo,” and “Destiny” at the K-Content Expo Los Angeles at The Source OC on Nov. 9.
(James Carbone )

The eight-girl group Lovelyz, which opened the two-hour show with an arrangement of their hit songs, were celebrating their fifth anniversary. Their debut album “Girls’ Invasion” was released in November 2014.

“In honor of coming to California, we wanted to come in classic black and white,” Kei of Lovelyz said. “Thank you to all the new and old fans who came to see us at the airport!”

And JBJ95, also celebrating the one-year anniversary of their debut, shook the audience “Awake” during their opening song.

tn-wknd-et-kpop-concert=source-20191109-5.jpg
Kenta Takada of JBJ95 performs during the K-Content Expo 2019 Los Angeles in Buena Park. JBJ95 closed the concert with their song “Johahae (Who I Am).”
(James Carbone)

“Just being in the U.S. makes me really excited,” Takada said. “Even breathing the air in the U.S. makes me happy.”

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