Characters appear in many fields like comic books, animation program, web comics, games and so on. Recently, characters in the messaging apps such as KakaoTalk or Line have become popular. Proving their increasing popularity, the number of places where we can see them in real life also increase. Character shop is one where you can buy various products made in collaboration with those characters. You can also see and take pictures of them in the form of large dolls, which you always see in the small screens. Another one is a museum where you can get information about them, including the production process. INDIGO visited to two major places, Line Friends Store and Kakao Friends Concept Museum.
The number of Line Friends Stores is 27 in Asia and, among them, 14 stores are located in Korea. INDIGO visited the flagship store in Itaewon, Seoul. The building is three stories high. There are stores on the first and second floors. The third floor is a café. On the first floor, there are toys, stationeries and some new arrivals. Fashion items and daily supplies are on the second floor. You can try on some fashion items in the fitting room. The counter is located on both floors, and the global tax-free machine is on the second floor. There was a special space on the first floor, where staffs make and sell Brown mini hotcakes. One of the staffs said that the average sales of hotcakes on a weekend is about 700,000 won. Another unique place was the Selfie Zone. People in the Selfie Zone were busy shooting their selfies with a machine that took pictures with B612 app filter. The pictures taken by the machine could be transferred to his or her cell phone without paying a separate fee.
The flagship store was designed carefully. The name of each character was written on the steps that are from the first to second floor. There was also a TV on the first floor that showed video clips about Line Friends characters. Some different kinds of character rooms were decorated in the style of each character. You can meet Line Friends characters from every corner of the store, including balloons, walls, frames, and photo zones. The third floor is called Line Friends Café. Like other common cafes, you can eat some cupcake or macaron and drink coffee, juice, smoothie or beer. If there is a difference from other cafes, the inside decoration of the third floor cafe is also full of Line Friends! In a photo zone designed like a bus stop, you will not be able to stop taking pictures. In addition, you can enjoy a variety of foods in a charming space decorated with different concepts such as barbershop or burger cafe.
INDIGO looked around Kakao Friends Concept Museum in Mapo, Seoul. The museum is managed by the online reservation system and door tickets are available in limited quantities, only if there are any remaining slots in that time. The theme of the first exhibition was “We Are Friends.” It is both the first collective hello from the Kakao Friends crew to the general public, as well as an expression of friendship towards all those in the Kakao Friends community. When visiting there, you will be firstly in the Welcome zone which is decorated with characters on the wall. After checking the ticket, you will watch a video clip introducing the museum and Kakao Friends emoticon collection. If you need any guides, you can simply download and use the smartphone app providing an audio guide. The museum is divided into the five section. In the section of “The Kakao Friends Story”, the detailed information about the eight Kakao Friends characters is presented in each character zone. In the section of “Unknown Story”, there are many early stage sketches of Kakao Friends so that you will get to know how characters and emoticons are made. In the section of “Little Friends”, people can look the childhood of them. In the section of “Brand story”, many products made in collaboration with Kakao Friends are displayed. The last section is called “Con Lab,” which is designed based on the concept of con’s lab.
INDIGO could see the famous messaging app characters, Line Friends and Kakao Friends in reality. Of course, at first, such characters appeared as emoticons in the messenger program to help users enjoy mobile communication. Perhaps because of the time spent with them, people fell in love with these characters, and eventually now we can meet them outside the smartphone. Some experts analyze that messenger program characters are known and promoted to people naturally because most people use a smartphone and use them.
So far famous characters usually have been entered into the smartphone from the outside world like animation and web comics, but now characters which are born from smartphone go outside such as the museum and store. According to the industry officials, they will expand the offline shop as the character business not only give satisfactory sale results but also the effect to promote the brand is great. Therefore the places which we can meet the characters around us will increase more. Why don’t you also visit there to see them in real life?
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