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  • Going on an Online Music Travel in Your Room “Trip to K-pop”

    Going on an Online Music Travel in Your Room

    “Trip to K-pop”

    In May when the world is green and clean, it got warmer but the world of concerts is ailing with an untimely cold snap owing to COVID-19. As scheduled concerts have been called off due to fear of mass infections, fans have been disappointed a lot. They may be watching the videos of their favorites at home but their sense of frustration hardly fades off. That’s why we’re here to take you a “Trip to K-pop”, an online music travel meant to soothe your frustration.
    (위드코카4 사진1)
    11+11

    Trip to K-pop is a contactless (also referred to as untact) concert supervised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) for three days from May 19 to 21. Its purpose was to give musicians struggling with the cancellation of concerts owing to the pandemic with opportunities to stand on the stage while the K-pop fans around the world with opportunities to enjoy K-pop online. Under the slogan of “We shall overcome”, reflecting the message of defeating the pandemic, the concert took place for three days at the CKL Stage located in Jung-gu, Seoul. Although it was an untact concert, its sense of realism was greater than ever, thanks to the live broadcast offered by U+ Idol Live app.

    In general, 7 to 11 cameras are used to broadcast music concerts, but 11 more were at this concert to ensure that the performances are seen from every direction in addition to a fancam for each group member. Furthermore, the use of omniview technology—displaying the fancams and the performance at the same time—made the concert more pleasant. At the same time, specially made cameras that function while laid down were also used to let the fans enjoy a 16:9 ratio in high quality on mobile phones. The concert added more fun by enabling a real-time communication via U+ Idol Live. Such efforts were enough to dispel concern that untact concerts are less enjoying and have less sense of realism. Lee Seok-young, deputy head of SBS Medianet who was in charge of producing and directing the concert, said, “We are planning to support 4K videos in the future.”

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    Easy and more fun with mobile phones

    The concert, emceed by Sandeul of B1A4, introduced such glamorous stage in the presence of many top-notch K-pop singers like iKON, OH MY GIRL, KARD and APRIL. At the same time, a small talk show was held to let the viewers and the artists communicate in real time; thereby making it possible for viewers to take part in the concert and not just merely watch it. There is another thing that made this concert unique from other music broadcasts; it focused on the mobile streaming via U+ Idol Live. The app made it possible for the fans to enjoy the concert, including the talk show, with more fun via mobile phones. Specifically, the fans made live comments during the performance of their artists; enabling a direct communication between the artists and the fans.

    In fact, Sandeul got questions from his fans on the spot while emceeing the talk show. There was also a moment when the fans commented clapping hands emoji all together as Soran encouraged them to during her performance. Fans around the world commented the names of their favorite artists to support and cheer them up.

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    Streaming to 16 countries around the world without disconnection

    The most important element in untact concert is, without doubt, a smooth streaming. Although your content may be in good quality, the sense of realism won’t be delivered to viewers properly if the streaming is not smooth. That’s why this concert had to get everything in ready so that there was no hitch over the course of simultaneous streaming via various platforms, including YouTube, V LIVE app, SBS MTV and U+ Idol Live. The production crew first divided the content with TV broadcasts and internet streaming and classified them as “broadcasting zone” and “streaming zone,” respectively. This was intended to cope with the unexpected situation easily by broadcasting via multiple channels without letting one transmission equipment take charge of all streaming. This was made possible by enlarging the back stage by as much as the vacant auditorium and using the space as the broadcasting zone, capitalizing on the characteristic of an untact concert devoid of audiences. The increased space was not the back stage alone. Corridors through which audience pass, waiting places and ticket box were empty as well. The crew didn’t waste these spaces by using them as the streaming zone and the talk show studio. It was a better use of the empty spaces and this was possible because the concert was held in an untact way. Thanks to their utmost efforts, including specially made cameras, real-time communication, and separate installation of the streaming zone for smooth streaming, the concert drew connections from 30 countries around the world and 690,000 views over three days.

    Lee Hye-eun, the music and fashion team leader of pop culture division in KOCCA, said, “I wish that the Trip to K-pop concert somehow comforted the hearts of viewers around the world amid COVID-19.” KOCCA plans to hold more variety of untact concerts that follows Trip to K-pop.

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    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2020-08-12 View : 30
  • Reaching Out Her Hands to the Young, Just like Dynamics in Music, Musician Jeong Ye-won

    Reaching Out Her Hands to the Young,
    Just like Dynamics in Music

    Musician Jeong Ye-won

    We can say that our lives have long continued with the help of and support from someone. Musician Jeong Ye-won’s songs written for the young has the same sense. Just like the dynamics in music, her songs deliver hope and bring warm comfort. This is Jeong who sings for a happier tomorrow.
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    Muse On: wings to her dream

    Last year, the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) carried out a collaboration project with NAVER named “Muse On” to discover talented musicians and support the production of contents. After creating the musicians’ live clips and interview clips along with support for record production during the first and second rounds, overall evaluation for the third round was done including online votes during the “2019 Muse On Final Concert” in live. Jeong, one of the top five, left a deep impression on how she expressed the life of people through her song.

    To her, Muse On itself was both luck and miracle: “At first, I participated only in the hope of passing the first round, but met with good results. The past one year was so busy and fierce that I cannot remember how it passed, but I could experience indulging myself to music to the full, from music contents to the contest stage, album production and solo concerts. It was a meaningful time to such an extent that I may have wasted my 10-year luck.” She fully displayed her musical talent through her performances at Muse On. Her songs like “Dear My Little Star,” “Subway” and “Pongdang Pongdang” may sometimes sound calm, and sometimes cheerful.

    She received attention thanks to her impressive rhythms, plain singing style and bright lyrics. She went through difficult times of competing with other musicians during the project. To Jeong who just made her debut, everything—the big stage, the camera’s red lights and the in-ear microphone—was new to her. She was nervous every round but learned how to gain courage and not give up. She also said, “They say that people help other people to hold on. I was able to come to this place thanks to the encouragement from those around me. In particular, the Muse On final concert held at Hyundai Card’s Understage, remains as my favorite one. I have once dreamed of performing at this stage when I first started my music, but I didn’t expect that I could get the chance so early. It was a huge honor for me regardless of the outcome, and it made me feel so confident to see my acquaintances and thousands of fans who came that day.”


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    (위드코카3 사진3)
    Wishing warmth in everyday life of the young

    Every time Jeong appears on stage, she introduces herself as “a young songwriter who sings for a better tomorrow.” The phrase “young songwriter” has two meanings—a songwriter who writes songs about the young, and a “lighter” that creates fire, wishing warmth for the young especially in cold days. “I want to deliver songs that can be soothing and cheerful in the hope that the future of the young would be less painful and happier than yesterday,” she said.

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    Jeong is mostly inspired by her everyday life. When she works on her song, it is lyrics that she devotes herself the most to. She writes down stories about “life, people and youth” in her own way, in a way that is sympathetic but uncliched and not exaggerated. When did she dream of becoming a musician?

    “My mother died when I was 10. She was desperate for “tomorrow.” At some points, however, I looked around and realized that many people wished that tomorrow would not come, a wish usually made before going to sleep. That’s why I started writing songs, wishing that our tomorrow would be a bit less painful and a bit happier.” She happened to blossom her dream of becoming a musician. She appeared in JTBC’s reality program “Hyori’s Homestay” together with her elder sister and her younger brother, and received positive reactions after singing her own song. Jeong got a message from one viewer saying, “I had thought of taking my own life but your song made me want to live and fight for another day.” Her heart raced so fast after realizing that her song can actually warm someone’s heart. She left her university and started walking the path of a musician to realize her dream before it’s too late. It was like “knocking her head against a stone wall” but she moved forward step by step toward her dream.

    Nearing her dream amid pleasant changes

    Jeong experienced pleasant changes with Muse On. Apart from accumulating various musical experiences, she released her first mini album “Evening Primrose” late last year. She had a lot to care about and spent double the time and effort, unlike when she released her single. But it was a meaningful work to her that the album contained many things in detail. Learning how to enjoy the stage through Muse On was one of considerable changes. She said, “Because I had been working as a solo and couldn’t perform much musical activities to the full extent, it made me more desperate.

    Muse On helped me quench my thirst greatly. It was a valuable time to such an extent that I was convinced that nothing would be a greater experience than this to a rookie musician. I was especially happy to fulfill my dreams over the course of album production and indulge myself to my songs. I think I’d be able to continue to deliver good music, influenced by such vitality.” To her, good music is an “undistinguished music.” It could mean a music that shows the natural side of humanity. It could mean a delivery of ordinary stories as an ordinary person. This is why she dreamt of becoming a singer singing songs of hope saying “Let’s live. Let’s live together” to those who are struggling.

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    Heading for another stage

    Anyone could feel relaxed while listening to Jeong’s songs. The idea that others living a life not different from the listener gives us sympathy. And sympathy is like healing our mind in some respect. We can feel comforted by saying that we’re okay, and realize that today is quite precious. Our ordinary life turns into a light in her songs. She made a happy smile, saying there were lots of things to do.

    “Continuing my performances and songs for a long time is my dream. This will last until the day I release a full album and perform at festivals. I will promise to continue singing for our better tomorrow, so I hope you’d would listen to even my little breath.” Jeong calmly chants the preciousness of our ordinary life and quietly shares warmth rather than in an obvious way. A part of her songs brings us quite huge warmth. As her songs begin to spread out to the society, we wish that a glimmer of hope will spring in the lives of the young.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2020-08-12 View : 36
  • Expressing Emotions by Voice, AI Voice Actor “Typecast” Kim Tae-soo, CEO of Neosapience

    Expressing Emotions by Voice
    AI Voice Actor “Typecast”

    Kim Tae-soo, CEO of Neosapience

    This is certainly the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Mixing AI with diverse cultures is emerging as a new icon. Can AI replace voices? Neosapience, a speech synthesis technology startup, received attention by unveiling its AI voice actor service “Typecast.” Voices filled with souls and emotions are applied in various fields to show abundancy in contents. We met CEO Kim Tae Soo who is making remarkable moves with his incomparable technical prowess.
    (위드코카2 사진2)
    Creating voices that comfort the listeners
    “I Met You,” a documentary film screened on MBC in February, stole the limelight by making what’s impossible a reality through the VR content.It gained recognition by reenacting the appearance of a daughter who died of incurable disease and showing scenes of reunion with her mother. The child’s appearance was restored by analyzing her facial expressions, gestures and voice based on her photography and video data. The child made viewers move to tears during the scenes when she looked for her mother and when she asked her mother if she had been thinking of her. It is Neosapience that restored the voice of the deceased child. CEO Kim Tae Soo said, “The production staff from MBC visited me last fall, asking for voice restoration. They showed me a video of the child’s lifetime appearance. But I was worried at first. It was a one-minute video but the child didn’t have a good command of sentences. Apart from the difficulty in voice restoration, I was worried that there might be a possibility of ethical controversy.”

    Kim took part in the production with a bit of hope that the program’s good intention will be relived. Lack of data was completed after going through deep-learning processes following the dubbing of more than 800 sentences each with the voices of her peers. It was the result of Neosapience’s unique technical prowess plus the enthusiasm of professionals.

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    From possibility to reality; from expectation to opportunity

    It was in 2017 that Kim founded Neosapience. Having earned a doctor’s degree at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), he made a fresh move with his co-workers and juniors in KAIST laboratories while working on audio machine learning at LG Electronics and Qualcomm. They began to study the innovative speech synthesis technology with the aim of changing the world through their peculiar AI technology. Of course, things were not easy from the beginning. Human voices show different meanings according to nuances and subtle changes in speech. Kim devoted himself to the research, questioning himself whether it’s possible to reenact the characteristics of each voice with AI technology.

    He buried himself in the research to make the small chance into a reality. Consequently, he succeeded in realizing voices expressing human feelings beyond merely delivering voices clearly and mechanically. As its first experiment, Neosapience created a video synthesizing the voice of President Trump in Korean language ahead of the inter-Korean summit in 2018. The video went viral at famous overseas sites and gained global recognition. The company drew more attention after unveiling the video of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking in English.

    “I believe we were able to win far more attention because our research was the world’s first ever. It was very meaningful that no one dared to attempt this kind of project. This idea inspired us to work more and develop more advanced technology,” he said.

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    Emotion-filled voices captivate the hearts of users

    Neosapience unveiled its premier AI voice actor service Typecast last year. Typecast is a service that transforms texts into audio contents based on AI speech generating technology, using the voices of professional voice actors. If the user selects a voice actor according to gender, age and content atmosphere after entering the sentences, he or she can download the audio files as if recorded by a professional.

    “Neosapience is the first company that developed the speech synthesis source technology expressing emotions and characteristics. In fact, Text-to-Speech (TTS) service was first introduced 30 years ago. The subway announcement and robot voices in the movie Star Wars are some of the examples of TTS. Apple’s Siri and smart speakers belong to the conventional technology. Yet, I think that the sophisticated speech synthesis technology that can express delicate feelings and adding cadence by using the voices of professional voice actors is our unique competitive edge.”

    Typecast services are used broadly in diverse fields such as media and entertainment based on its unique technical expertise. They charmed the industry as well as users for documentary films, broadcasts, video dubbing, news production, audiobooks and educational contents.The members have exceeded 30,000 only seven months after its launch.

    He said, “I feel rewarding when I see users creating satisfactory contents with Typecast. Our services are now a tool to create various contents. I feel a sense of satisfaction after discovering that our services were of help to higher-quality contents.”

    Evolution of technology continues

    Neosapience is widening its spectrum by making another challenge. It has been taking part in an R&D project of the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) since last year. The company joined the project supervised by Soo-Young Lee, director of KAIST AI Center, who is counted among the country’s famed AI experts, and dedicated himself to the technological development of emotional audiobooks. He noted, “Audiobooks or ‘hearing books’ are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Especially in abroad, demand for audiobooks is high. We developed a technology that reads books with emotion-filled voices rather than conventional machine sound. We already signed a partnership contract with Daekyo last year and completed two audiobooks. Such earlier-than-expected results are encouraging. We’ll have to exert more effort to complete the rest of our research by the end of the year.”

    Kim says there is a long way to go. Given that improvements and complementary matters are being discovered, depending on users with various needs, he knows that technological development is always ongoing. Aside from raising the technological quality, he expressed his will to listen carefully to the smallest suggestions from users and create more effective technology by accommodating diverse needs. He continued, “I am often reminded of our goal when the company was founded. I wanted to do things that could give a positive impact on people around the world. As to technology or services that are nestled deeply in our lives, we frequently say, ‘That’s too complicated. You can simply use this service.’ I have a dream and objective of hearing in the distant future that ‘That’s a complicated way of creating content. Make it simpler by using Neosapience’s services.’”

    Neosapience contributes to raising the degree of completion of contents with unprecedented new technology. One cannot but wonder about their next move to witness how they will amaze the world once again.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2020-08-12 View : 53
  • Balance between Story and Technology, VR Film “Scarecrow” Movie director Jeong Ji-hyeon

    Balance between Story and Technology
    VR Film “Scarecrow”

    Movie director Jeong Ji-hyeon

    A unique Korean film had been invited to the 36th Sundance Film Festival in 2020: a virtual reality (VR) film titled “Scarecrow”, which was directed by Jeong Ji-hyeon. Throngs of people were gathered to experience this piece created with a mix of various technology, and there were long queues before the booth throughout the festival. We met Jeong who returned home after attending the festival amid favorable reviews.

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    How the film made it to the Sundance Film Festival

    Scarecrow was created with the support from the “Content One Campus”, a project conducted by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) in which companies, research institutes and organizations cooperate in the form of a consortium, centering on universities, to develop different technology into a VR immersive theatre in such diverse fields such as humanities, engineering and arts. The film directed by Jeong Ji-hyeon was born after taking one of the classes at the Korea National University of Arts (K-Arts) and carried out with the aid of the project. Jeong says that she can still feel how surprised she was when her film was invited to the Sundance Film Festival. When she began working on the film, she only thought about submitting it to class; until her film was invited to the world-famous film festival consequentially.

    “I sent the film just for my own experience because there was no regulation regarding the video format. Due to the characteristics of a VR film, Scarecrow requires actors to perform actual actions for each scene, but it was impossible to include all these in one introduction video. So I didn’t expect that much,” she said. But she did everything she could to convey the content as best as possible, and let the judges comprehend. She shot the movements of the actors in a separate video and included all the necessary explanations. But with a surprise, the making-of passed the first screening. She sent another build file for the second screening, in which she once again passed, and a third video clip until she was sent an invitation for the event. This shows how Scarecrow accomplished the splendid feat of being invited to the New Frontier Exhibition of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. It was the sole Korean film invited to the festival, which was a remarkable event for KOCCA that had supported the curriculum, for K-Arts that had conducted the class, and for Jeong who made the film.

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    Completing the story by the actors and the VR users

    The story of Scarecrow is completed by the actor and the VR user, performing one-on-one interaction in real time in the virtual world. Once the user wears a headset and enters the virtual world, actors taking the role of a scarecrow lead the story and act according to the user’s reactions. Live actors and different technology such as thermoception and motion capture allow more vivid experiences for the users, letting them get immersed to the VR world. Such characteristics result in slightly different story according to each user. The synopsis featured by Jeong is that “the user lifts the curse of the scarecrow and spends happy moments together until the scarecrow disappears like a magic.” But because the story slightly differs according to the user, some experienced the whole story in a different way. Jeong explains it, saying, “The film should be experienced focusing on images and senses rather than focusing on the set synopsis.” Although there may be a basic theme of “love”, but the progress of the story may be different somewhat, depending on the user.

    (위드코카1 사진3)

    Unlike Jeong’s previous works, various technology were used in Scarecrow, befitting its characteristic of an immersive theatre: a facial motion capture using a mobile phone and a motion capture suit. With respect to this, Jeong explains that her film differs slightly from other films in technology used but there is not much difference essentially. “Technology and films have made progress together so far. Modern films have already adopted various technology such as visual effects (VFX). This is just a film that used VR, which is a slightly different technology. From the perspective of expanding the reality, VR is rather closer to the essence than VFX. It seems that attractive visuals were possible thanks to human touch on top of existing technology combined.”

    Is it because of this attractiveness? There were long queues before the experience center of Scarecrow day after day through the film festival, and the users released their favorable comments after experiencing the film. Jeong gave importance in increasing the perfection of technology to enhance user’s sympathy with the technology used and the story of the film. What she cared about the most, in particular, was the “eye contact” between the scarecrow and the user in the virtual world. “This came into my mind that any movement wouldn’t bring out sympathy from the user without making an eye contact. It was quite difficult to use this in technology but I was able to make it at last by seeking advice from professors and cooperating with Birdhand, an industry-academia collaboration organization.”

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    She had to be more cautious so that technology was not biased while endeavoring to improve the technology at the same time. After her decision of using the VR technology, one of the factors she considered the most important was that the technology should not be a hindrance to the story. She believed that giving too much focus on technology can result in negative reaction, and the users would focus more on technology than the story itself. Directing was an important factor, too. She tried not to adhere to excessive directing, with her intension to avoid awkward development of the story. What troubled her the most was the “contact” between the live actors and the users. This part made her agonized for a long time—making physical contact with the users might raise fear, but at the same time could help them get immersed more and sympathize with the actors. After all, she decided to let the actors adjust the extent of physical contact according to the users’ reactions, allowing direct contact with the scarecrow. And the result came out to be successful, earing positive and favorable feedbacks from the users.

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    Balancing between the technology and the story, and being cautious to avoid excessive directing to enable communication and experience sharing between the actors the users. This novice director made every effort to keep a balance in between these, and her efforts have touched the hearts of users. Among the reviews stated that it was quite touching to see in person the actor who played the role of a scarecrow after their extreme adventure together in the virtual world just a few minutes ago. This proves that it is a meaningful experience of letting the users feel sympathized and increase their interaction in the virtual world by meeting the person behind technology.

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    Producing films amid COVID-19

    Jeong had knocked on the doors of other film festivals as well aside from the Sundance Film Festival. As a result, Scarecrow was invited to other film festivals in Europe, but after the occurrence of COVID-19, most of the film festivals were postponed or screened online. All previews scheduled domestically had been called off as well. It would be impossible to screen online this one-on-one content film Scarecrow, so we might not be able to see any users for this film at the moment. Jeong expects that film production industry will move swiftly toward contactless (also referred to as untact) tendencies in the future, affected by these circumstances. There could be more indoor filming or introduction of new technology aside from the existing ones.

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    “These days, I’m thinking about ways to connect the actors and the film producers wirelessly in their respective spaces without the need of seeing face to face. This is a concept greatly enlarging the current VR piece,” she added.

    Of course, to make this possible, huge development should be made on VR-related hardware technology; but she thinks this idea will turn feasible someday in the future. Such circumstance such as COVID-19 may be an unexpected one for Jeong, but she is slowly adjusting herself while doing what she can do at the moment. She says, “I cannot cave in forever. I continue to write new scenarios and plan new VR films. I will continue to create works grafting remote technology onto the film.”

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2020-08-12 View : 47
  • Starship Vending-machine: Offering a Comprehensive Broadcasting Platform That Anyone Can Use

    Starship Vending-machine:
    Offering a Comprehensive Broadcasting Platform That Anyone Can Use

    In the age of one-person broadcasting, anyone, from little children to grandparents, has the ability to produce and consume videos. Starship Vending-machine helps ordinary people quickly and easily produce high-quality video contents through its platform PUFF.

    By reporter Kim Tae-hwan, Money Today Network, kimthin@mtn.co.kr
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    Being a “YouTuber” is now ranked as the world’s most promising job. Recently, a job platform conducted a survey of 3,543 adults (both male and female), and more than half of the respondents (63%) said ”yes” to the question, “Do you have any intentions of becoming a YouTuber?” According to the results of the survey, 70.7% of the respondents in their 20s said “yes”; this figure decreased as the age of the respondents increased (of the respondents in their 30s, 60.1% said “yes”; of those in their 40s,45.3% said “yes”; of those in their 50s or over, 45.1% said “yes”). This shows that a majority, or close to a majority, of the people in all age groups were seriously considering becoming a YouTuber.

    Yet, ordinary people who wish to start one-person broadcasting face many limitations and difficulties. Even though smartphones can be used to replace filming equipment, it is difficult to edit and revise videos to make them look good. Video editing tools used at broadcasting stations or by professional video editing producers are complicated and difficult to use, and can also be very costly.

    Starship Vending-machine, for People Who Dream of Becoming a One-person Broadcaster

    The platform PUFF, developed by Starship Vending-machine, helps people dreaming of becoming a one-person broadcaster easily edit videos. PUFF allows users to intuitively revise their videos without using complicated settings or technical terms. Backed by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), Starship Vending-machine is also developing a technology to realize multiplex broadcasting for broadcasting stations.

    Jeon Soo-young, CEO of Starship Vending-machine, said that the company name represents a world in which high technology is ubiquitous in daily life, much like getting a starship from a vending machine.

    CEO Jeon has been involved in the content sector for more than ten years, producing music records and videos and organizing concert festivals. While he was managing a project for the joint production of a cable TV program and a film, he began thinking of how videos and technologies could be combined to create a new platform. Soon after, he began his own business.

    The content industry has become increasingly polarized in recent years. Content is divided into high-quality content, produced by specialized productions that invest large amounts of funds and personnel, and content created by small crews or individuals. It is difficult for small-scale personal broadcasters to compete with professional broadcasting companies in terms of content quality.

    Starship Vending-machine provides support for the production of high-quality content by individual broadcasters. The company conducts research on visual computing technologies, such as video synthesis, video editing, and special effects, so that ordinary people can quickly and easily create high-quality videos.

    Jeon Soo-young, CEO of Starship Vending-machine, said, “When individuals are armed with good weapons (i.e. video editing technology), the technology infrastructure expands across society, and a revenue structure becomes clear, allowing numerous people to participate.” He added, “The increased production of quality contents and greater numbers of success cases creates a virtuous circle, encouraging more people to participate in content production.”

    (위드코카2 사진2)

    Live Streaming Services Provided by Starship Vending-machine

    Playing the Escape Room Game with NCT Dream!

    The platform PUFF has two main functions: to provide content production tools, and to connect completed content to other revenues, while also providing revenue information. PUFF is typically used by ordinary people, so most of its video editing tools can be used by simply pressing a few buttons. The platform offers subtitle insertion as well as stock images that can be used to create effects like entertainment programs.

    These functions, located at the bottom of the platform’s home screen, are easy to use, but they are high-level technologies. The platform features a combination of video synthesis technology, face detection and tracking technology, and capture technology. These functions are mostly optimized for real-time, one-person broadcasting using mobile devices.

    PUFF users can both watch and produce content using the platform. Content producers can use PUFF to host a live broadcasting session, upload filmed content, or even upload short bits of content (lasting only about 15 seconds).

    The PUFF website offers two kinds of contents. One type is the content independently produced by Starship Vending-machine, and the other type is content produced by users. Mutual communication between viewers and producers is an important aspect of the content independently produced by Starship Vending-machine. In February 2019, the company presented an interactive live broadcast with the idol group NCT Dream in collaboration with SM Entertainment. The entertainment program was broadcast live, and viewers were encouraged to participate and choose how the program would proceed.

    During Starship Vending-machine’s live broadcast, members of NCT Dream had to find clues hidden in an escape room, solve problems, and escape. Whenever the band was at a crossroads, different choices popped up onscreen so that viewers could vote and choose an option and shares their opinions. . The option selected by the greatest number of viewers was then chosen and implemented by the members of the band.

    In the last session of the live broadcasting series, Starship Vending-machine experimented with media commerce. NCT Dream goods were produced using the videos featuring NCT Dream, as well as using images and behind-the-scene materials. Coupons to induce purchases were distributed to viewers who participated in the voting. The sales during the broadcasting amounted to nearly KRW 65 million. Viewers had fun participating in the vote, which naturally led them to make purchases.

    On PUFF, content creators are rewarded using two revenue structures; producers can earn revenue through donations or through dividends from ad profits. PUFF has differentiated itself from other platforms by implementing a system for viewer purchases, as a form of media commerce.

    For example, creators are allowed to insert links in videos when they host live shows or upload videos. Viewers can then click on the links to check areas or contents in which they are interested.

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    Content produced and provided independently by PUFF

    Trust Up! Confidence Up!

    Starship Vending-machine is managing a project, backed by KOCCA, to establish a “multi-mobile device video editing and broadcasting system.” This system connects five smartphones in real time, four of which are used as cameras. The remaining (fifth) smartphone serves as the “director’s phone" and helps the director choose from among the four other screens, broadcasting from the chosen screen.

    In music programs, idol group performances are filmed from different angles using several different cameras, and the various images filmed are shown on different screens. The director chooses the screen of a specific camera and broadcasts it. Through PUFF, this system used by broadcasting stations can be realized using smartphones.

    This system allows individual creators to make different creative attempts. They can capture various scenes at the same time and have only the necessary shots appear on screen. Or, much like the TV news, necessary video footage can be transmitted while the director stays indoors and another content creator remains outdoors.

    CEO Jeon of Starship Vending-machine said that the KOCCA’s support project has been a big help for R&D-based companies. He stressed that among other things, companies can gain a higher degree of trust and confidence when they succeed in developing something through a government support project. CEO Jeon also added that KOCCA’s support has been instrumental in terms of internal and external networking and promotion.

    He also advised that boundaries between genres should be broken down to invigorate the content industry. He said that it is a shame when content is produced that relies too heavily on the categories established by old media. He added, “I hope that support will be given in a way that considers how existing media is mixed with various technologies and that focuses on how synergy can be achieved, irrespective of contents, technologies, and platforms.”

    INTERVIEW
    Content Made Together with Viewers

    Jeon Soo-young, CEO of Starship Vending-machine

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    Can you tell me how the PUFF platform can be used?

    You can use PUFF in the same way you use YouTube or AfreecaTV. You can also upload a video like you do on SNS like TikTok and Instagram. If we have more quality contents on PUFF, we can attract more users. So our company is focusing on improving the quantity and quality of our contents.

    How do you produce contents that can attract viewers?

    We produce high-quality contents with celebrity entertainers such as idol groups. We also try to get “viewers to feel like they are making the contents together” by encouraging them to actively participate on the platform.

    Are there any limitations to independent production?

    We are promoting a strategy of increasing “prosumers” who are somewhere between producers and ordinary people. We are also trying to make sure that creators are provided with good tools to produce videos. If we can reduce their production time and costs or offer larger revenues compared to other platforms, prosumers will be attracted to the PUFF platform.

    What technologies for video editing and application have been applied to PUFF?

    The technologies that we have released so far include video synthesis technology, face detection and tracking technology, and capture technology. These technologies can be used on mobile devices, but technologies for combining your video with other videos is only offered through the PC version.

    How do you cast celebrities like idol groups?

    Last year, we attracted investments from SM Entertainment, so we are planning to continuously produce contents with their artists. We are also promoting related projects at the same time. We are considering strategies to sell paid contents by using idol groups and strategies to attract viewers by using benefits offered to fans.

    Do you have any plans to recruit prosumers who do active work on other platforms?

    We cannot just ask people doing active work on YouTube or AfreecaTV to move to PUFF. First, we will induce them to use PUFF while using other platforms. For example, we will induce them to use PUFF’s tools and give different effects to their videos, while still using YouTube. And if they broadcast their videos on PUFF, along with YouTube, we will give them additional revenues.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-12-26 View : 47
  • Collecting Meaningful Data: CrowdWorks, a Data Collection Platform for Deep-Learning

    Collecting Meaningful Data:
    CrowdWorks, a Data Collection Platform for Deep-Learning

    Many experts say that artificial intelligence (AI) will lead the future changes of the world. AI is based mostly on data, which means that AI can only function properly when there is a lot of meaningful data. CrowdWorks is a platform for deep learning training that helps companies collect the data they need.

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    By reporter Kim Tae-hwan, Money Today Network, kimthin@mtn.co.kr

    The role is AI is expanding. AI helps humans focus on creative works by completing tasks that are too simple or too difficult for them. In order for AI systems to perform properly, they must be backed by high-quality data. Since AI learns and computes based on data, the more abundant and reliable the data, the more exact the results.

    AI completes computations by mimicking different ways of human thinking. Computers are trained to check information and to study for themselves, much like humans; this method of learning is called machine learning. Computers are trained to learn with data given to them by humans. AlphaGo, a type of Go-playing AI, learned through machine learning in its early stage of development.

    Deep learning is a more advanced form of machine learning. In the deep learning stage, AI learns through data and analyzes the data without any input from humans. For example, AI equipped with deep learning can “look at” tens of thousands of pictures and decide whether any of the pictures are of a dog. In its early stage, the AI system is given pictures of dogs by humans to learn the characteristics of a dog.

    Korea’s First Data Crowdsourcing Platform

    Highly accurate data is necessary for AI to efficiently perform deep learning. Using the previous example, if AI is trained using pictures of dogs, a higher learning effect can be achieved by using a larger number of pictures of dogs. Higher efficiency can be achieved by classifying pictures in advance into pictures of dogs and pictures of other things, that is, right and wrong answers. When pictures are classified in this way, the AI system can more quickly distinguish between right and wrong answers, which increases the system’s computation speed. In other words, the greater quantity of unstructured data the better for the AI system.

    In years past, companies typically employed short-term, part-time workers to complete the classification of data for the development of AI systems. However, this caused several problems. Many of these part-time workers were college students who worked during their school vacation. By the time they became skilled at their work (usually after around three months), they had to return to school. Companies had to repeatedly hire new part-time employees, which led to increased management costs.

    CrowdWorks has introduced a platform as a solution to management costs and performance management. The platform is a system that connects companies in need of data with people who can provide the data. For example, if Company A is developing an AI system that can distinguish between dogs and cats and needs images of dogs, the company can recruit workers who can collect images of dogs for them on the CrowdWorks website. Member workers can upload images of dogs and receive points for each image.

    This type of platform is known as a ”data crowdsourcing platform.” Amazon, one of the world's largest IT companies launched “Mechanical Turk,” which was the world's first platform to provide these kinds of services. CrowdWorks was the first such platform to be launched in Korea.

    This crowdsourcing method can be used not only for simple data collection (such as for the collection of animal images) but also for the collection of advanced data. For example, one CrowdWorks project involved the “collection of the sound of babies crying.”

    New parents often do not know why their babies are crying. To solve this problem, CrowdWorks recruited data collectors who had infants less than six months old. The recruited workers were given devices to record the sounds of their babies crying and were asked to indicate the reason why their babies were crying. As more crying sounds were collected, the AI created to determine the reason for the crying became more accurate.

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    Accuracy of Korean AI: 70%

    Data collection performed using the CrowdWorks platform has also been used to develop AI to block obscene messages or words used in online chatting or telephone counseling. Sometimes inappropriate messages are not conveyed directly using obscene words, but are more subtle. Recognizing this, CrowdWorks collected various types of obscene messages and used them to create AI that could block obscene messages.

    On CrowdWorks, texts constitute the largest category of AI data, and there are various projects dealing with texts involving the collection of QA sets, production of summaries, and analysis of morphemes.

    All collected data goes through an inspection process. Rewards are not paid for submissions that do not pass inspection. According to CrowdWorks, this inspection process raises the reliability of the submitted data to up to 99%. In contrast, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk does not have an inspection process. The inspection process needs to be performed by humans because the accuracy of the Korean AI used by CrowdWorks is relatively low.

    Son Yu-i, a manager at CrowdWorks, said, “Currently, Korean AI can do tagging and labeling work, but it is only about 70% accurate. Humans still have to inspect the work.” She added, “In the past, Korea’s AI technology was at an infant level, but it has now developed to a middle or high school level.”

    Son also commented, “Low-level AI technology requires high-quality data.” She continued saying, “Sadly, Korea’s AI technology is lower than those of the US and Europe, and we can only develop comparable services when we significantly raise the quality of our data.”

    In order to raise the quality of the data, suitable data collection personnel must be recruited for each unique project. For example, doctors must be recruited to develop AI services that can read CT images to find tumors. For such projects, CrowdWorks separately recruits personnel working in the required field(s), and the recruited personnel gets paid higher rewards compared to general tasks.

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    Screenshots of CrowdWorks’ platform app

    AI and Contents

    CrowdWorks, with the support of the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (AIRI) and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), manages the Intelligent Character Work and Service Model Development Project. This project aims to develop an “intelligent avatar” that can make certain judgments about a person and can react by expressing proper emotions. For example, a home AI robot should be able to make certain judgments about a child who is crying and be able to communicate and empathize with the child. If the AI robot gives too wide of a smile to a crying child, it can have the opposite effect of making the child even more upset.

    An AI avatar follows three stages of processing: input, selection, and output. An AI avatar makes judgments based on a person’s emotions and the situation it is presented with, “inputs” related factors, “selects” an action to take, and then “outputs” the action. A huge amount of data must be collected to realize all the processes involved in AI. First, facial recognition must be collected according to various criteria, such as age and gender. Gestures that a person makes while speaking must also be analyzed so that the AI avatar can make accurate judgments about the person’s emotions. Additionally, if an AI robot uses gestures while speaking, it can make the robot seem more human.

    Intelligent avatars that can communicate with humans, are expected to be very useful in the content field. They can be used to create an AI idol group or cyber entertainers that look very similar to humans.

    Kim Ji-sun, Director of the Project Development Team at CrowdWorks commented, “It is good for us to have this new experience of managing the KOCCA’s R&D project.” This large-scale project involves the collection of a total of 20,000 pieces of facial data from 2,000 data providers. The project is the largest project ever undertaken by the company and is expected to contribute significantly to the company’s AI technology development.

    INTERVIEW
    Making Images that Do Not Exist Anywhere Else in the World

    Kim Ji-sun, Director of the Project Development Team at CrowdWorks

    How much participation is there on the CrowdWorks platform?

    There are about 30,000 workers on the platform. When there is a simple project that must be completed within 24 hours, about 1,000 people instantly apply for the project. As of October 2019, 560 projects were registered on the platform, and we had 80 corporate customers that needed data.

    How is duplicate data managed?

    We block photos from being uploaded from an album. This helps minimize duplicate photos and ensure that the workers take the photos themselves. Data collected by each person is also inspected on a page to easily filter out duplicate data. We always try to come up with functions that can prevent workers’ carelessness and mistakes. Our company has applied for 34 patents related to the management of workers and inspectors, and five of them have been registered.

    What kinds of companies need data?

    Virtually all companies and schools that handle AI are CrowdWorks customers. We have worked for IT companies such as Naver and Kakao, telecom companies such as SK Telecom and KT, and credit card companies such as Hyundai Card. We also conduct various data projects with universities, such as Seoul National University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

    What does the joint project with the KOCCA entail?

    When we work with companies, we usually go no further than the data preprocessing stage. We have few opportunities to see how the data we generated is used. The KOCCA’s R&D project allows us to see how the data we generated is used, because it is managed jointly with the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (AIRI), a supervising agency. The project has been very helpful and has given us new motivation.

    Are there any AI technologies that can be applied in the content area?

    There is a type of AI technology called generative adversarial networks (GANs) that can be used to combine existing data to create something new. For example, this technology can be used to create an image, such as a “talking Mona Lisa,” that does not exist in the real world. This technology can be used to create a piece of work that does not exist.

    What kind of policy support is needed to stimulate AI research?

    In order to promote deep learning, the government should ease data regulations. Currently in Korea, the Personal Information Protection Act is so stringent that data use is very limited. In contrast, Japan amended its Copyright Act in 2017 to allow the freer use of data for research purposes. AI research can be stimulated and advanced by the freer use of data in Korea.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-12-26 View : 11
  • The Staging of Webtoons

    The Staging of Webtoons

    A new wind is blowing through the world of performing arts as musicals and plays based on webtoons are being staged one after another. Webtoons, with fun and creative subjects that have proven popularity, are being recreated and converted into dramas and films, with much success. Many people in related industries are very interested in how this trend will unfold in the world of performing arts.

    By Choi Yoon-young, art performance columnist, ann_lena@naver.com

    There are several dramas and films that are familiar to most Koreans: Along with the Gods, the first Korean film that attracted as many as 26 million movie goers; Incomplete Life, a drama that stirred the emotions of audiences by showing the life, joys, and sorrows of office workers; What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?, a romance about a couple playing hard to get; and Pegasus Market, a pleasant drama that unfolds at a troubled store. Even though these films and dramas are very popular, some people may not know that they all have something in common—they are all based on online comics, or webtoons.

    Webtoons, created based on unique subjects and marked by outstanding creativity and remarkable imagination, form a general trend in Korea’s cultural content market. Diverse real-time, information-sharing platforms have appeared with the advancement of internet technology. This has led to the development of contents, such as Webtoons, created especially for these new platforms. Webtoons are appealing because they can be read simply by touching a screen and scrolling down. In recent years, the webtoon market has grown rapidly at a surprising rate.

    This growth is the result of Korea’s “snack culture” (in which people consume media in short periods of time), which has spread due to the popularization of smart devices, and the trend of valuing speed and avoiding anything cumbersome. These trends have caused internet portal sites to become reliable supporters of webtoons, helping them take off in popularity. Webtoons have also gained popularity among many readers because they overcome the shortcomings of conventional paper comic books. This support has helped ensure greater profitability for webtoon artists, giving them more opportunities to create works and to strengthen their overall presence.

    Korean webtoons are being combined with other genres to create new cultures and are being exported to foreign countries, offering a new revenue model. These changes, to some extent, are ensuring the sustainability and success of webtoons, arousing an even greater feeling of expectancy in the market.

    Many times, fans of a webtoon look forward to adaptations of the original webtoon. Loyal fans maintain their interest in the work, wondering how the original webtoon will be adapted into a musical, play, drama, and/or film, and they wonder who will play the characters that they love. Other times, people watch a recreated adaptation of a webtoon first and then want to read the original webtoon.

    “One source multi use (OSMU)” is a term that refers to the way a creative work is converted into various additional creative works. Cultural content recreated in this way has the positive effect of raising consumer interest in related creative works.

    Even just a few short years ago, few people seriously considered producing drama or film adaptations of webtoons. This hesitancy stemmed from the fact that if the adaptation failed at the box office or had a low viewer rating, the production company would experience large losses or have difficulties recouping the tremendous production costs. However, more recently, these hesitations have been overcome, and the popularity of original webtoons and their drama and film adaptations have soared. Now, webtoons are even being converted into plays and musicals.

    When the webtoon series What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? and Pegasus Market were recreated and converted into dramas, the adaptations made were kept at a minimum to keep the same moods as the originals; these adaptations subsequently gained much popularity. In contrast, the webtoon-turned-film Along with the Gods made different changes to add elements of fun and suspense. This film was also very popular and attracted tens of millions of movie goers. So then, what decisions must be made when producing a play or a musical based on a webtoon? To answer this question, I watched two works created based on webtoons that are lavishly acclaimed by audiences.

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    Film Along with the Gods. ⓒLotte Entertainment

    For the People Rediscovering “How to Breathe”

    It's Okay if You Don't Shine, a play staged last October, was created based on Kkamajung’s popular webtoon of the same title, which was serialized from July 2017 to March 2019. Fans of the original webtoon had great expectations when they heard the news that the webtoon, which received an average rating of 9.97, would be made into a play.

    Park Kyung-chan, the director of the play said, “I felt quite burdened during the production process. We maintained the keywords of the original work, such as empathy, consolation, and growth, while focusing on delivering the story that unfolds in Chanran’s mind, an abstract space, on stage.” In actuality, the play was very close to the original, and even the actors and actresses were almost identical in appearance to the webtoon’s original characters. This was done out of consideration for the fans of the original webtoon.

    However, some changes were unavoidable due to the characteristics of a play. First, the personalities of the characters were made more prominent for theatrical amusement and to create touching scenes. Some episodes were also added to the play to visually show Chanran’s state of mind using a variety of devices.

    The play It's Okay if You Don't Shine went through a development period of more than two years. The storyline of the original was maintained in a balanced manner, while living, breathing sensibilities were added to suit the stage environment. As a result, the play successfully touched the hearts of audiences with the same warm sense of comfort conveyed by the original, overcoming the limitations of time and space.

    In both the webtoon and the play, Chanran, a 23-year-old college student, has a hard time as she works her part-time job every day. She feels weighed down by life, and for her, leisure time is truly a scarce and precious commodity. One day, she meets Dorae by chance, and through Dorae, she joins a theatrical club that is closing soon. She experiences different things together with the members of the theatrical club as she works with them to produce the club’s last play. The club members support and encourage one another as they share the shining moments of youth.

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    Drama Pegasus Market ⓒtvN

    Each new day holds the same promise as the promise of youth. Youth is always beautiful and fresh. Yet, unfortunately, the youths of today cannot always afford to enjoy themselves in the present moment. Some young people don’t realize how valuable their youth is, while others cannot enjoy the present moment because they have too many other things that they have to do . The play shares the message that even the most “common” of youths have the ability to sparkle and shine in their everyday lives.

    The play has a storyline that anyone can easily relate to, especially if they are in need of comfort and consolation. In the play, Dorae says to Chanran that he wants to help Chanran, who lives as if she has forgotten “how to breathe,” to learn how to breathe again. This sentiment resonates deeply in the hearts of audiences. I watched the play It's Okay if You Don't Shine in the middle of the fall. It is a play that has the ability to cheer people up as they go about their daily lives and to encourage them to always shine. It is a play that has the power to give consolation and courage to many people.

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    Part of the first episode of the webtoon It's Okay if You Don't Shine. ⓒNaverWebtoon

    One More time, spending time with the most precious in your life

    The musical One More, which premiered last September, is a unique and attractive time-loop romance in which the main character experiences the same day over and over again. Time travel is often used as the subject of many films and dramas, but this musical presents a time travel story in a new and fresh way.

    The title of the original webtoon on which the play is based is The Day After We Broke Up, co-authored by Nam Ji-eun and Kim In-ho. The webtoon was made into a Korean web drama in 2016 and later broadcast in Japan and China. This hit drama can be seen through Netflix’s streaming services.

    The stage background of One More creates a pretty and cozy vibe, using some scenes from the original webtoon. The stage background has preserved the setting of the original webtoon, and both the stage and cast look as if they have come straight out of the original webtoon.. However, some theatrical adaptations have been made, including many changes to the storyline.

    The first noticeable thing is that the main character’s name has been changed. The unknown signer Yutak from the webtoon is renamed Yutan in the play and is the leader of an indie band. There are some changes to the setting, too. Yutan experiences the same day on repeat, and he has an equivocal relationship with Dain, his vocal instructor. Sometimes the two seem as if they are a couple, while at other times, they seem like they are only friends. In the original webtoon, the two quarrel due to mistakes and misunderstandings that happen during a Christmas concert. But in the musical, they quarrel when the main character makes a realistic decision to make his dream come true.

    Given that musicals typically consist of music, acting, and compelling stories, this change is very natural. Unnecessary side stories were removed by changing the relationship between the two characters and the cause of the conflict. This makes Yutan’s behavior justifiable and accentuates his earnest feelings for Dain.

    Watching Yutan as he tries to free himself from repeating the same painful day and win back the most important person in his life teaches the audience about taking care of the important people in their lives. After repeating the same day numerous times, the main character finally realizes the importance of his beloved. When he happily sings again and creates music, which gives life to his heart and soul, the audience feels both relief and a sense of catharsis. The musical One More uses magical scenes, experienced second hand by the audience, to share the message that we should treasure all the moments and people in our lives. It also gives the audience an opportunity to reflect on their present lives.

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    Musical One More. (from left to right) Yu Je-yun, Moon jin-a, Hwang Min-su, Lee Hyo-eun, and Kim Jinwok. ⓒSang Sang Maru

    The Continued Webtoons Transformation

    Selected for the Comics Related Content Production Support Project 2019 operated by the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the play It's Okay if You Don't Shine and the musical One More captivated the hearts of audiences with their sense of charm and fun, even though they are somewhat different from the original webtoons. Despite these differences, the recreated works draw their vitality from the original webtoons and present many moving moments that gain a very positive response from theater audiences.

    People naturally look at webtoon adaptations with a mix of concern and hope. Excessive dependence on webtoons can lead to less opportunities for creation. Furthermore, when a webtoon is adapted into another form of art, the message of the original webtoon can be undermined or distorted, or the two forms of art can somehow cause damage to one another. Above all else, adaptations of popular webtoons are not always guaranteed to be a success.

    However, webtoons that are truly outstanding do not lose their originality after being adapted and embellished in the recreation process or in the process of changing genres. Adaptations of webtoons typically maintain a clear sense of originality and are recognized as new created works. The successful coexistence of original webtoons and their adaptations is leading many to expect that new works and adaptations will continue to be produced.

    The OSMU trend of Korean webtoons will certainly continue. I, for one, support this trend because it widens the Korean cultural base. I hope that newly recreated content will also stand as cultural contents with independent competitiveness and will continue to grow along with the original webtoons on which they are based.

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    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-12-26 View : 10
  • “Magical Ten Years” Achieved Through the “Scaling Up” of the Content Industry

    “Magical Ten Years” Achieved Through the “Scaling Up” of the Content Industry

    In the 2010s, Korea’s content industry grew immensely and spread across the globe. Some of the words that best describe the growth of Korea’s content industry during this period include “content,”’ “platforms,” “networks,” “devices” and “environmental factors.” These categories are connected to the keywords “BTS,” “YouTube and Netflix,” “5G mobile communications,” “smartphones,” and “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).”

    By Shim Sang-min, Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Sungshin Women’s University and President of the Korea Association for Cultural Economics, ssmin@sungshin.ac.kr

    The Korean content industry has run full speed ahead on the scale-up track for the last decade. Much like successful venture companies that go through a “scale-up phase” after they have been completely formed as a company, the Korean content industry has been getting stronger through the “created-by-Korea” brand.

    The startup period, or the early period, of the Korean content industry can be considered to have begun in 2000, when the Korean boy band H.O.T. held a concert in Beijing, signaling the beginning of K-pop’s global popularity, or in 2001, when the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) was launched as the world’s first government agency in the content area. During the early 2000s, the Korean content industry introduced Korean content and communicated information to users in Korea and abroad.

    The period from 2010 to 2019 is considered the “magical ten years” of scale-up, or growth. During this time, the growth of the convergence-type cultural industry accelerated in Korea, and Korean Wave contents spread globally. This led to the export of cultural content goods, creating an economic Korean Wave. Over these critical years, all the companies, people, and policymakers engaged in the content industry commercialized cultural content and actively introduced content service marketing in all possible areas and spaces. In particular, they tried to create customer-oriented content businesses.

    LOVE YOURSELF

    The growth of the Korean content industry over the last decade can be understood by dividing the industry into five categories—contents (C), platforms (P), networks (N), devices (D), and environmental factors (E)—and connecting these categories with symbolic keywords that helped make the 2010s a time of phenomenal growth. ”Content” can be connected to the keyword “BTS”; “platforms” can be connected to “YouTube and Netflix”; “networks” can be connected to “5G mobile communications”; “devices” can be connected to “smartphones”; and “environmental factors” can be connected to “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).”

    BTS debuted as a hip-hop group in 2013. All seven members of BTS are from provinces outside of Seoul, and the group’s agency was far behind Korea’s top three agencies in terms of its systems and financial strength. At the time of its debut, BTS was considered a minor band and an “underdog.” In 2012, a year before the group’s debut, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” swept through the Western market, proving the global popularity of the Korean Wave. In 2014, a year after the debut of BTS Cho Young-pil, dubbed the king of pop in Korea, released his 19th album Hello with the hit single “Bounce.” Even though Cho was 64 years old at the time of the song’s release, the song greatly appealed to young people.

    BTS took the lessons it learned from Psy’s global management style and from the musical and artistic aesthetics of Cho Young-pil, and used these lessons to release the album In the Mood for Love Pt. 1. BTS has been on a roll ever since. BTS’s single ”DNA:” made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2017, becoming BTS’s first single to make it onto the charts. When BTS released the album Love Yourself: Tear in 2018, it ranked No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, making BTS the first Korean band to ever top the Billboard 200 albums chart. BTS’s lead single “Fake Love” from the album became the first Korean song to make it to the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100.

    A Forbes article dated October 10, 2019, stated that BTS grosses a whopping USD 4.65 billion (KRW 5.5 trillion) of Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to 2018 data from the World Bank, this accounts for 0.2% of the nominal GDP of Korea, or about USD 619.4 billion (KRW 1,924 trillion) of the nation’s USD 1 trillion nominal GDP. The Forbes article said, “That puts a seven-member boy band [BTS] in the same economic league as Samsung and other top conglomerates. The millions of albums and concert tickets they sell generate spoils that are even greater than the annual output of Fiji, the Maldives, or Togo.” The article also said that BTS has a large influence on Korea and can contribute to the massive global success of girl-group phenomena like Blackpink and Red Velvet. The article further stressed that “the soft power boost to Korea’s global brand [that can be attributed to BTS] cannot be exaggerated.”

    Recently, Lee Soo-man, the chairman of SM Entertainment, ambitiously debuted the boy band SuperM, whose first album immediately ranked No. 1 on the Billboard’s charts for several consecutive weeks, signifying yet another miracle of the Korean Wave. The so-called “Avengers of K-pop” were the main players in the booming of the Korean content industry in the 2010s and are now stepping up as the leaders of the next “glorious ten years” of the Korean content industry in the 2020s.

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    BTS’s pop-up store ‘House of BTS’ ⓒBig Hit Entertainment

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    BTS attends the red carpet at the 61st Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Feb. 11, 2019 (Korean time) in Los Angeles. ⓒBig Hit Entertainment

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    Golden Age of Over-the-top (OTT) Services

    YouTube, which opened the era of video streaming in the last decade worldwide, has become a super platform in Korea, surpassing portals and ranking number one in the research category. YouTube provides hybrid OTT services, combining an ads-funded free content model and a premium pay model, leading to a so-called “wag the dog” phenomenon. YouTube has led a new mega trend in which general users create and consume content, maximizing their influence in the video content market like a tail wagging a dog. Particularly, YouTube influencers have emerged as new stars as they have enjoyed the effects of connecting contents to products and have dominated the market.

    The impact of YouTube has brought about the golden age of multi-channel networks (MCNs). This platform business, which is a new promotion and revenue model that induces consumers to watch commercials and purchase products, has attracted even large Korean conglomerates. The platform, which focuses on the development of content materials and storylines, is an advanced model compared to conventional product placement (PPL), which places products in separate contents.

    MCN companies do not simply rely on YouTube ad revenues and instead actively use branded content and PPL. YouTube content creators typically use sponsored products in one-person broadcasts. Recently, more Youtube content has been created that focuses on products. For example, Cuckoo Crew, a YouTube creator group that has a partnership with CJ E&M's DIA TV, produced a video about Jachwi Box, a food box launched by GS SHOP, and the video received a lot of views. This trend of product-focused broadcasting is also noticeable among foreign MCNs. StyleHaul, a US-based MCN, entered a partnership with Maybelline and was offered courses on cosmetics; and Machinima, a game MCN, ran a new car promotion in partnership with Honda.

    What is unique about MCNs is that the people featured in each video double as marketing curators. Many YouTube creators actively participate in the product planning stage and launch the brands themselves, going beyond mere product promotion.

    Netflix, which, unlike YouTube, adopts a pure OTT subscription revenue model, entered the Korean market in 2016. Netflix currently (as of 2019) represents 30% of the global video streaming market. The company makes annual investments as large as KRW 9 trillion in contents in all countries except for Syria, North Korea, and Japan, competing with old media groups such as Disney and Time Warner. Netflix is also taking on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV, which provide ICT convergence services, in the super platform market that encompasses content production and services.

    Netflix has gained much attention in recent years for its original content and unique worldviews. It is known for giving birth to the “binge-watching” culture, and the phrase “Netflix and chill,” reflecting a new lifestyle.

    (이슈1 사진 4)

    Golden Age of Over-the-top (OTT) Services

    Faster and Smarter

    Last April, Korea launched the world’s first fifth generation (5G) commercial services, and Korean companies in related fields are now seeking to develop and secure contents that can be deliver on 5G networks. Not only telecom companies but also IT companies, such as platform businesses, game companies, and manufacturers, are busily preparing for the 5G future. Naver has been strengthening its video content division by focusing on V Live, a global OTT service. Naver’s V Live service will be used to air 8K ultra-high-definition videos and will apply related technology to facilitate audience cheering and singing at concert halls. Naver is also planning to provide immersive contents using virtual reality (VR) apps.

    The Korean gaming industry has also been actively engaged in content development and investments in 5G mobile services. In April 2019, Nexon released Traha, a MMORPG game for mobile devices that has the same high level of graphics as PC games. The company also recently signed a contract to provide IPs for Crazyracing Kart Rider for the production of the game Kartrider VR. Other video game publishers, such as Netmarble, NCSoft, and Smilegate, have also been producing mobile games with high-quality graphics as well as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) games.

    SK Telecom’s “telepresence” service, which is a 5G telecommunications technology, uses immersive technologies to allow for interactions that go beyond spatial limitations. These new technologies are demonstrated in the SK Telecom commercial in which Son Heung-min is in the UK and is interacting with a boy in Korea. As 5G mobile networks increasingly allow for content services that are not bound by spatial limitations, telecom companies are adopting strategies that are focused on services that go beyond the static concept of content.

    Apple’s launch of the first iPhone in 2007 rocked the content industry. With the release of the iPhone, Apple gave birth to a global smartphone market, transforming the cultural norms of content watching, use, and consumption. With the advent of the smartphone, users who used to simply watch and absorb created contents began to lead a new world in which they could react, experience things, and express themselves.

    Samsung is planning to invest USD 22 billion (KRW 26 trillion) in 5G and AI startups over the next three years and is holding discussions with global companies to secure contents for 5G mobile smartphones. LG is investing about USD 20 million (KRW 23.6 billion) in AmazeVR and other startups through LG Technology Ventures, which is funded and was established by five LG affiliates including LG Electronics and LG U+. It is expected that new media content, such as cloud gaming services and VR content, which up until now could not be commercialized due to speed and bandwidth limitations, will be actively distributed and dominate the market in the next decade.

    (이슈1 사진 5)

    Nexon’s MMORPG game Traha ⓒNexon; In May 2019, Rain (Jung Ji-hoon), a Korean Wave star, performed at a large-scale Chinese event attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, and it was expected that regulations on the Korean Wave content would be lifted. ⓒRainCompany

    All Noisy on the Korean Wave Front

    When the Korean government announced its deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in July 2016, a problem occurred on the Korean Wave front. In China, fan meetings with Korean Wave stars and K-pop concerts were canceled one after another, and TV shows featuring Korean Wave stars were taken off the air. Jointly produced Korean-Chinese films, many of which had long since been in the making, were canceled or their premiers were delayed. Deliberations ensued and regulations were eventually implemented to block the distribution of Korean internet/mobile contents in China, and the number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea fell sharply. The Korean content industry faced a serious crisis as an axis of the Korean Wave market collapsed.

    Problems also occurred in the Japanese market, which was considered relatively stable. Korean-Japanese relations have worsened since late 2018, and these souring relations have dealt a heavy blow to the Korean content industry; these changes come at a time when it is the most critical for Korean contents to go beyond the limited domestic market. In the Korean market as well, the “gaming disorder issue” and the 52-hour workweek system implemented in 2019 also had a negative effect on content production conditions, collectively turning into a “domestic THAAD crisis,” which continues to threaten the Korean content industry.

    The ”soft power” of new, stylish, and relatable Korean content is the driving force that has enabled the Korean content industry to enjoy a “magical ten years” despite difficulties. The Korean content industry has made remarkable achievements in a variety of difficult environments. In Korea, people and companies in the content sector have continued to spread the impact and power of the Korean Wave through mergers and convergence.

    As the Korean content industry enters a new decade, now is the time to increase efforts to create a global brand, while maintaining the identity of Korean contents. In its startup and scale-up phases, the main task of the Korean content industry was to present cultural products, that is, to industrialize cultural contents. The Korean content industry has clear strategic tasks that it must carry out in the next decade. These tasks include the creation of contents based on existing services and the manufacturing industry, of the creation of a culture using daily economic activities, and the creation of attractive styles of soft power that will increasingly attract new audiences.

    In the upcoming 2020s, the Korean content industry will hopefully continue to see miraculous achievements and solidify its original brand status, rivaling the likes of Hollywood in the USA and the telenovelas of Latin America.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-12-26 View : 23
  • Realizing the Dreams of Students with Disabilities:Special Education Content Manufacturer Softzen

    Realizing the Dreams of Students with Disabilities:
    Special Education Content Manufacturer Softzen

    Many students with disabilities dream of someday becoming a chef. Realistically, however, there is not yet enough infrastructure to teach students with disabilities how to cook. Special education content has emerged to solve some of the problems faced by students with disabilities. Say hello to the virtual kitchen exploration program developed by Softzen using virtual reality technology.

    By reporter Kim Ji-hyun, Money Today Network, jihyunsports@mtn.co.kr

    The 2019 National Students with Disability E-festival was held at The K Hotel Seoul from September 3 to 4. Reflecting their high interest in becoming a chef, many students with disabilities showed great interest in the Virtual Kitchen program, a kitchen exploring program presented by Softzen. Many of the nation’s job integration centers for people with disabilities are dedicated to supporting students with disabilities and helping them learn kitchen-related tasks in order to become chefs. However, there is often a shortage of these centers and necessary supplies, due to budget shortages and difficulties securing physical space.. The development of Virtual Kitchen by Softzen is expected to overcome some of these limitations by providing a space for students with disabilities to comfortably receive training. Virtual Kitchen is a kitchen task-exploring program made using virtual reality technology. Softzen created the program last year with production support from the Korea Creative Content Agency. Softzen is currently developing other special education contents especially for students with disabilities.

    From Ingredient Preparation and Cooking to Greeting Guests

    CEO Kim Yeon-pyo of Softzen said, “Virtual Kitchen, developed last year, and Virtual Barista, developed this year, are the most effective special education programs developed in recent years for people with disabilities.” Kim added, “These programs are functional games that provide specialized job training. Virtual Kitchen is a program that allows players to become familiar with tasks that will allow them to work professionally in a kitchen environment.”

    CEO Kim added, “We are developing job training contents in the areas that students with disabilities are most interested in. We are doing our best to provide educational contents that help students actually learn. Thanks to the production support provided by the Korea Creative Content Agency, we were able to make the Virtual Kitchen program more realistic.”

    2019 National Students with Disability E-festival. ⓒSoftzen

    Cooking with Virtual Kitchen. ⓒSoftzen

    CEO Kim Yeon-pyo said, “Using virtual reality technology, this program makes the students feel like they are actually experiencing tasks and processes in the kitchen, despite the fact that everything is taking place in a virtual space.” He added, “Learning and virtually experiencing the content has great educational effects. Since Virtual Kitchen provides educational content that is also entertaining, it is highly motivating and has great educational value.”

    Virtual Kitchen consists of a training mode, in which the user prepares the ingredients and practices making desserts and main dishes, and a free mode, in which the user receives orders, cooks, and delivers the dishes. Through the program, students can learn how to prepare ingredients, cut, grill, cook, and even greet customers.

    How a Gaming Company Started to Make Special Education Contents

    How did Softzen develop an interest in producing special education contents? Softzen is a game company that originally made mobile and computer games. In 2010, the company started to become interested in providing special education contents for students with disabilities. CEO Kim Yeon-pyo recalls, “I wanted to make educational contents that help students with disabilities. The moment I realized that combining education with games could maximize certain educational effects, I delved into making our first program.”

    Softzen began developing educational contents and, in 2012, created a functional language training game for students with disabilities called “Sound Land Great Adventure,” which it then supplied to the National Institute of Special Education. “Sound Land Great Adventure” is a role playing game for students with disabilities that trains players to effectively express themselves using language; the program focuses on syllables, pronunciation, and selecting language appropriate for different situations. The National Institute of Special Education highly praised the game for its ability to provide maximum educational benefits for students with disabilities.

    Virtual Barista. ⓒSoftzen

    After receiving such positive feedback, Softzen continued to develop special education contents. CEO Kim Yeon-pyo said, “While developing special education contents and games, my understanding of accessibility grew. I now feel like it’s my calling to develop games and contents for people with disabilities.”

    Softzen actively utilizes recent technology to increase the competitive edge of its special education contents. CEO Kim explained, “Recently, changes in platform have been progressing more rapidly. We are designing and implementing virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence technologies to our contents, keeping up with current trends.” As a special education content provider, Softzen combines its skills and expertise with recent technology to develop new programs, such as Virtual Kitchen, which was released last year, and Virtual Barista, which was released this year.

    Beam Project Game. ⓒSoftzen

    In 2014 Softzen participated in the Development of Special Education Electronic Solutions and Server Development Project and the Special Education Functional Program Development Project for Students with Disabilities in cooperation with the National Institute of Special Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea Vaccination. The same year, the company also participated in the Assisting English Website Construction Project for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea. CEO Kim noted, “Recently, all of the projects that we have been involved in are for students with disabilities.” He added, “We plan on regularly providing strong educational contents for students with disabilities.”

    Pioneer of Special Education Contents

    Softzen plans to continue developing functional games and platforms for special education. Why is Softzen focusing so heavily on functional games, rather than on smartphone games or online games? CEO Kim Yeon-pyo answered saying, “The commercialized game market is already saturated, meaning it is hard for small- and medium-sized game companies to survive. Rather than competing in the conventional game market, the red ocean, Softzen will focus on the vertical market of the special education sector to pioneer the market and become a leader in the field.”

    Softzen received a commission from the National Institute of Special Education last year, and has been working on the Software Education Program Development Project for the Disabled for the past two years. CEO Kim said, “Once this project is completed, students with disabilities in the four areas of visual impairment, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and hearing impairment will be able to receive systematic software education to better suit their needs.”

    CEO Kim added, “In order to help people with disabilities develop their social adjustment skills, perception abilities and physical abilities, we are planning on developing a game that enhances these skills using a three-sided beam projector.” This game uses a ‘beam projector’ to create an environment that is similar to virtual reality without the need for a virtual reality headset. The game allows students with disabilities to experience various environments, such as a crosswalk, classroom, and convenience store, in a realistic space and to learn how to properly respond to different situations in each environment.

    Lastly, Kim said, “We are designing a program to develop the large and small muscles of children that allows them to freely play in a concentrated environment and utilize their physical abilities.” Currently, Softzen is developing a virtual reality-based, online educational platform called Softzen OnLine Virtual Education (SOLVE). The SOLVE platform provides virtual classroom and special education applications for virtual reality education. Softzen is also continuing to develop functional job training programs.

    INTERVIEW
    “Rise up after you fall to take hold of another chance.”

    CEO Kim Yeon-pyo of Softzen

    Tell us about Softzen.

    After I accumulated internet business experience by working on the first internet service project in Korea, the Sinbiro Internet Project, in 2002, I founded Softzen with a colleague under a new goal.

    What is the management direction of the company?

    Our objective is to conduct business that positively impacts people. We have maintained this belief ever since we first founded the company. We will continue to work on becoming a company that positively impacts society, starting with our employees.

    What are some of the challenges of making educational contents for people with disabilities?

    The greatest challenges we face are social prejudice and discrimination against people with disabilities. When I said I wanted to make a functional game for people with disabilities using virtual reality, many people said, “Can people with disabilities even play that kind of game?”

    What is it like to provide contents to students with disabilities?

    Over the past ten years, I’ve interacted with students with disabilities at a number of special education sites and events. These students are capable of using games or machines that utilize recent technology as long as they have access to necessary information, communication devices, and/or games. It only took two minutes of simple training for elementary school students with development disorders to use their virtual reality controllers like pros. Students with disabilities can do it as long as they are provided with the right environment.

    Is there any advice you would like to give to students with disabilities?

    I love the saying, “Rise up after you fall to take hold of another chance.” There were times when I struggled with my business and wanted to give up after a particularly difficult situation. But each time when I persevered and rose up once again, a new opportunity found me. Set a goal and never give up. One day, you will be able to grab a chance of your own. It is difficult, but keep dreaming. Softzen will help you realize your dreams.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-11-21 View : 8
  • Paving New Paths through Joint Production:“Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso,” a Leading Documentary Production Company in Korea

    Paving New Paths through Joint Production:
    “Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso,” a Leading Documentary Production Company in Korea

    The documentary market is shrinking due to low advertisement income and high production costs. However, there’s a small production company that uses its abundance of experience to create high-quality documentaries despite difficulties in the market.
    Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso is a leading documentary production company of Korea that has produced works such as Humboldt Road and Tastes of the Amazon.

    By reporter Kim Tae-hwan, Money Today Network, kimthin@mtn.co.kr

    Documentaries are nonfiction films that concentrate on analyzing a real event or other targeted subject matter. They play an important role in recording facts in an academic manner and shaping public opinion. Documentaries also have educational value and are able to shed new light on a subject, presenting facts that were previously unknown.

    Documentaries are a charming, yet neglected, genre. While documentaries typically have high production costs and take a great deal of effort to produce, it is extremely difficult to make a profit with a documentary film. Recently, as broadcasting companies have been suffering financially, the popularity of documentary films has been weakening. Due to recent changes in content platforms, broadcasting companies have shifted focus to advertising income, which represents the majority of a broadcasting company’s revenue, and online media. This shift to online media has reduced the income of broadcasting companies, meaning that the documentary genre is also shrinking.

    Small/Medium Production Company Producers: Playing Three Roles At Once

    Since documentaries mostly feature real-life images, shooting a documentary poses unique challenges. For example, in the summer, it is difficult to film a snowy environment. So, a filming crew that wants to film a snowscape must wait months until it snows. Also, because documentaries are filmed over a long period of time, they require a vast amount of tape. Compared to variety shows, documentary films use 20 times more tape. Compared to the large amount of time and costs associated with producing a documentary, advertisement profits are very small. For a producer, it’s not a profitable business.

    A broadcasting company official noted, “Variety shows and dramas are watched more frequently, so it’s much easier to find advertisement sponsors. Documentaries have lower viewing rates, so it’s harder to find sponsors.” He added, “This is why broadcasting companies are hesitant to produce documentaries.”

    Recently, broadcasting companies have been outsourcing the production of documentaries to outside video production companies to reduce costs. Public broadcasting companies are required to air a certain number of documentaries for public interest. Since large broadcasting companies struggle with production, it comes as no surprise that small- and medium-sized production companies have an even harder time. For these smaller companies, making documentaries is even more labor intensive. To start with, these companies produce a great number of documentaries each year. A large broadcasting company produces maybe one documentary a year, while small- and medium-sized production companies make as many as 10 documentaries a year.

    As budgets decrease, the amount of work that each person within the company must do increases. For example, in a broadcasting company, the producer, who normally focuses on directing, will write the scenario, do the filming, and direct, all at the same time. Competition is fierce between production companies to secure a spot on the television schedule.

    At Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso, Each Employee is Worth 100 Warriors

    The small- and medium-sized production companies that survive in this difficult market environment, however, are unmatched in their abilities. These companies film high-quality videos using their production-related experience and expertise. Take Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso, for example.

    Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso produced the documentary Humboldt Road, presented in four episodes on KBS. The documentary was a large project that detailed the life and work of natural scientist Alexander Tom Humboldt, who explored South America 200 years ago, and analyzed the meaning of his accomplishments. The film shed light on the past and present of Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and Germany.

    Normally, this type of large-scale documentary is self-produced by the broadcasting company. Super Fish and Tastes of the Amazon are other well-known examples of Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso’s work . Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso was the first company to joint produce a documentary with another outside production company. Normally, large projects cost hundreds of millions of Korean won per episode; however, Humboldt Road reduced production costs to only 75 million Korean won per episode. Despite the cost reduction, the video was praised as being equal in quality to documentaries self-produced by large broadcasting companies.

    The Child Who Cannot Study, broadcasted on the EBS Docu Prime channel, was another one of Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso’s works that received a lot of attention. This documentary explored how the pressure to “study” that comes from adults and society, can negatively impact a child. The documentary recorded a viewing rate of 4.49% and had a lasting social impact, with many people requesting that the documentary be re-broadcast.

    Other works produced by Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso include: The History of Sweetness, which explores the dangers of sugar; Old Males, with information on older Korean men; and, Three Innovations that Change Your Life, which explains how different scientific technologies have been applied to real life.

    Humboldt Road (top, ⓒKBS)

    The Child Who Cannot Study (bottom, ⓒEBS)

    Viewing Rate of 8.2%

    Last year, Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso produced a documentary called Tastes of the Amazon through the International Broadcasting Culture Exchange Support Project (hereinafter the “international joint production project”) operated by the Korea Creative Content Agency. The documentary was jointed filmed with Brazilian producer LYgia under the theme of “Tastes for Humans.” LYgia planned the documentary originally titled Tastes of the Temples exploring temple food of Korea, and Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso researched the diet of the natives of the Amazon region.

    CEO Kim Jin-hyuk explained, “As dietary life has been modernized, people tend to eat too much. Our research revealed that people in the Paleolithic era who were not as affluent had a healthier diet.” Kim added, “Our intention was to find out what the natives of the Amazon region eat and whether they are actually healthy.

    The Enamuen tribe in the Amazon, whom they approached for filming, was not entirely isolated; the tribe had been exposed to outside civilization for about ten years. During the filming of the documentary, they confirmed that they were healthy but developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes as they were increasingly exposed to modernized food. Tastes of the Amazon reminds viewers that affluence does not guarantee happiness.

    CEO Kim continued saying, “Tastes of the Amazon received a viewer rating of 8.2%, and ranked sixth in the overall ratings that day, which included dramas and variety shows.” He added, “Normally a viewer rating of 5% is considered the mark of success for public television. For a documentary, a rating of 8% indicates a very successful project.”

    Tastes of the Amazon ⓒKBS

    A Time for a Change in Documentaries

    CEO Kim Jin-hyuk explained that the Korea Creative Content Agency’s support project has greatly helped with production and has been creating a virtuous cycle for documentary production companies.

    The international joint production support project—which supports joint production projects by Korean and international production companies—is designed as a cultural exchange program to spread Korean culture abroad and to introduce overseas culture to Korea. Under normal circumstances, there are few opportunities for Korean and overseas production companies to work together, so the joint production project is opening up new paths for film production. CEO Kim explained, “In the end, exchange support is important for producing films with foreign broadcasting companies. The broadcasting support project of the Korea Creative Content Agency is very important for helping Korean documentaries enter overseas markets.”

    Tastes of the Amazon was broadcasted on Brazilian public television, receiving great reviews. Recently, over-the-top service provider Netflix has been negotiating with KBS to broadcast the documentary on its own channel.

    CEO Kim explained that monetary funds are the most helpful type of support the company can receive when producing a broadcasted program. He said, “The documentary market is continuing to shrink in Korea and other eastern countries because broadcasting companies are decreasing their production of documentaries. That is why fund support by the Korea Creative Content Agency is meaningful in and of itself.”

    The strengths of the documentary genre are that the content is beneficial and entry into the world market is easy if the content is exclusive. Since documentaries explore the humanities and natural sciences from an academic perspective, the cultural barrier is low and it is easy to translate contents into English.

    Many expect that in the future, the documentary genre will be converged with other genres such as variety shows or dramas. Broadcasting companies such as BBC and Discovery that specialize in making documentaries are leading this change. CEO Kim noted that, “Documentaries need to break out of their traditional molds and transform.” He added, “Documentaries should converge with other genres, such as dramas and variety shows, or be made based on advertisements. Changes also need to be made in terms of distribution, and contents should be distributed through an exclusive channel or over-the-top services.”

    INTERVIEW
    SINCE 1998

    CEO Kim Jin-hyuk of Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso

    How was the Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso created?

    I worked as a producer at SBS. I produced Morning Wide, a representative morning program and switched over to producing documentary programs. I’ve been focusing on documentary production ever. While working at SBS, I was transferred to the entertainment bureau and then fired during the IMF crisis. After I was let go, I started my own company together with fellow producer Ham Jung-min. Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso was founded in 1998. We mainly produce documentaries for public television. We have made somewhere between 100 and 130 documentaries, which is the largest number ever made by a small- or medium-sized production company.

    What is your work load like?

    We have 13 employees, including writers. The only time we get together is to hold meetings or edit films. We do a lot of overseas filming. We work abroad for three to four months of the year. Our staff members don’t complain because they are so used to it.

    What do you feel the most proud of when making documentary films?

    Kim Jin-hyuk Gongzakso does not make films about anti-society issues. We deal with the humanities and the sciences, and we love when we explore themes that let us study or learn new facts. It makes us proud to provide information that is educational.

    What advice would you give to those who dream of becoming a documentary producer?

    Documentaries made by conventional broadcasting companies tend to be boring. Documentaries made by the younger generations, on the other hand, are fun. I would say, do not be confined by the conventions or formats of the past, and just say what you want to say. Spend more time thinking about how to deliver the information in a way that makes the film more fun and effective. The days of broadcasting company-produced documentaries are over, and the era of individual documentary-making days is approaching. There’s a lot of potential in the industry.

    How would you rate Korea’s documentary production level?

    Korea is on par with the BBC, National Geographic, and other prestigious broadcasting companies. The only difference is that overseas broadcasting companies have a great deal of capital strength and generously fund their projects. Increasing production funds is critical to upgrading the competitive edge of Korean documentaries.

    How helpful are the various broadcasting support policies of the Korea Creative Content Agency?

    These support policies are very important to small- and medium-sized production companies. Many small- and medium-sized production companies have survived thanks to the support of the Korea Creative Content Agency. Not many countries in the world support their broadcasting companies in this way. I hope the Korea Creative Content Agency further expands its support of the documentary market.

    What sort of documentaries are you currently planning?

    We are in the process of producing a documentary called Space, Earth, and Me. The documentary details the events that have happened in space and on Earth since the launch of the Voyager spaceship in 1997. We are also collaborating with a Brazilian production company to film the Ocean, which is a project about fishermen around the world, and How to Die Well, which talks about the quality of death. Other projects that we are currently working on include Georemal Grand Dictionary, which talks about overcoming the language differences in North and South Korea, and The Love of Science, which talks about love from a scientific perspective.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-11-21 View : 4
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