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  • 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
    (위드코카2 사진1)

    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.

    (위드코카2 사진3)

    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

    (위드코카2 사진4)
    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 : 10
  • 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.

    (위드코카1 사진1)
    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.

    (위드코카1 사진2)

    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.

    (위드코카 1 사진3, 4, 5)

    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 : 1
  • 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.

    (핫트렌드1 사진1)

    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.

    (핫트렌드1 사진2)

    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.

    (핫트렌드1 사진3)

    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.

    (핫트렌드1 사진4)

    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.

    (핫트렌드1 사진5)
    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-12-26 View : 4
  • “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.

    (이슈1 사진 1)

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

    (이슈1 사진 2)

    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

    (이슈1 사진 3)

    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 : 3
  • 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 : 6
  • 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 : 2
  • Opening New Horizons of Kinetic Art:Technology Creativity Company “Easywith”

    Opening New Horizons of Kinetic Art:
    Technology Creativity Company “Easywith”

    Easywith is receiving attention for its unmatched technology in the category of kinetic art, an art form that conveys artistic sensibilities through movement. Easywith realizes large-scale movements at exhibitions or regular expos and provides a platform to help artists and designers express their art more easily.

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

    “Kinetic art” refers to moving art and includes works that move in part or as a whole. Since kinetic art involves a lot of dynamic movement, it is typically expressed in the form of a sculpture or component. However, recently, thanks to technological advancements, many different techniques can be added that go beyond the simple movement of a sculpture.

    For example, in the past, a human-shaped sculpture may only have been able to move its arms; however, technology now allows for light to radiate out of a sculpture’s eyes or for its hands to move apart and then come back together again. Before, a kinetic screen could only move up and down, but now, thanks to the development of kinetic technologies, a screen displaying representative images can move freely from left to right as well as front to back.

    From Imagination to Reality

    Spatial designers and artists often lack certain engineering skills. That is why they tend to show limited, repeated movements in their artwork, focusing on the formative nature and artistic quality of simple movement. Although this may help the artist concentrate on the artistic quality of the movement itself, it is very limiting in terms of the diversity, or ways, in which the movement is expressed.

    Kinetic work installed at the Hyundai Motor Studio in Goyang ⓒEasywith

    Insufficient technological skills can often prevent artists from expressing the large-scale movements they desire. To move the two arms of a human-shaped sculpture, all you need to do is install and operate a motor, which could easily be done by the artist. However, moving dozens of arms—such as for a statue of a Hindu god—is outside the skill set of most artists.

    Due to such technological limitations, kinetic art is often displayed in ways that pale in comparison to the vision of the designer or artist. Many artists want to compose mass movements but fail to do so. Easywith is a company that provides media platform strategies and digital space user experience consultation services. The company has received positive reviews for its ability to establish a kinetic art platform, thereby opening new doors of artistic expression.

    Easywith was founded so that designers and artists can easily express their desired contents on a kinetic art platform. Previously, artists could only apply a single movement to one objet d’art. With Easywith’s platform, 1,500 to 2,000 objets can express various movements.

    When you have the ability to move over 1,000 objets, you can express things that you were unable to before. For example, when you have the ability to make 1,000 sticks fly up from the floor, you can also adjust the height of each stick to create the shape of a vehicle. You can also make the vehicle look like its moving forward by raising and lowering each stick.

    Through the platform, artists use a 3D tool to make a video of the shape they desire for their creation. The artist creates the video and movement, and the kinetic solution helps faithfully bring the artist’s vision to life.

    Moving Art Created By Dozens of People

    The Easywith platform is supported by dozens of members from the company’s Video Team, Design Team, Planning Team, and Development Team. Each person—from creator to engineer—collaborates to create synergistic effects, faithfully performing their individual roles to maximize efficiency.

    The Easywith platform is mainly utilized by large companies such as Samsung Electronics, the Hyundai Motor Company, and LG Electronics to create media contents for displays at conglomerate PR centers or large-scale exhibitions, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress (MWC). The platform is also frequently used by public institutions or local governments to build themed displays. Easywith explains that rather than being used for one-time interior displays, the company works to provide kinetic art in various forms for spaces where media is the main focus.

    Recently, the Samsung Booth at the Mobile World Congress 2019, the largest mobile exhibition in the world, featured a kinetic media façade module utilizing the Galaxy S10 as its display. Hundreds of Galaxy S10 models were used to create a magnificent, wave-like motion. Last year, the SK Telecom booth used a kinetic LED façade at its entrance to promote the PR center of the Mobile World Congress. The LED screen featured at the booth moved back and forth in a wave-like motion, and various images were also realized through motion.

    The kinetic flow of SK Telecom on display at the 2018 MWC. ⓒEasywith

    Walking Gallery at the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital ⓒEasywith

    Interactive storytelling gym “Wonder Hill” in Yecheon-gun ⓒEasywith

    The Seoul National University Bundang Hospital also installed digital signage at the “SNUH Walking Gallery,” and the new company building of Aekyung Group features an interactive media table in its lounge space that introduces affiliated brands and plays a PR video.

    Thousands of Objets Flying Over to Dubai

    Easywith has been carrying out the “3D Multiple Array Method Exhibition/Performance Ball Motion System Development and Authoring Technique Development Project” through the support of the Korea Creative Content Agency since 2018. The 3D Multiple Array Method is a technique that allows three-dimensional movement. For example, rather than just moving from top to bottom or left to right, this technique also allows diagonal movement. Rather than moving a single objet, this technique also allows the three-dimensional movement of thousands of objets. The lighting can also be changed to multiple colors, instead of staying in a single color. Before this technology was developed, there was no technology that allowed for changes in color. Now, with the introduction of a number of colors, there is a wider range of artistic expression that can be achieved.

    Once this technology is perfected, it will be possible to create a “moving, shape-changing monitor”; in other words, monitors applied with this technology will be able to change shape and realize new movement and will even be able to change color and shading. This technology is expected to be introduced at the Korea booth of the Dubai Expo to be held in October 2020. Easywith says that the support from the Korea Creative Content Agency has been instrumental in helping with technology development. Receiving R&D investment helps the company use its funds more flexibly, allowing it to display its technologies at larger events, resulting in greater advertisement effects.

    CEO Yang Jung-ha of Easywith said, “Often times, it is difficult to carry out R&D for pre-determined items using only our own budget. When we have fewer funds, we have to make more conservative choices, because many of the R&D activities we are involved in come with a risk of loss. When we receive R&D budget support, however, we save greatly on our development costs, which means we have more money to participate in large overseas events or exhibition-related projects.” Yang added, “Our display at the Korean booth at the Dubai Expo, in particular, is not just a chance to advertise the technology of Easywith as a company but is also effective in letting the world know of Korea’s outstanding technological prowess. This kind of move leads to the increased creation of added value.” Yang anticipates that continued content support will help promote Korea’s technological strengths to the rest of the world and will increase the nation’s competitive edge.

    He concluded by saying, “Up until now, overseas projects have mainly been displayed in limited spaces. The technology that we have developed with the support of the Korea Creative Content Agency will be operated in an open space, giving us exposure to more overseas buyers.”

    INTERVIEW
    Yielding Creative Results with Technology

    CEO Yang Jung-ha of Easywith

    What motivated you to establish Easywith?

    Before launching a startup, I was a developer who built software for network equipment. After retiring, I started to collaborate with professionals in the media art industry and helping companies conduct R&D projects. I was surprised to learn that software mattered more than I originally thought in media art. Software technology was required in the sensors and to direct interactive elements. This realization is what led me to start my own company.

    Tell us about Easywith.

    Easywith is a technology creativity company. We yield creative results through technology. We are a company that provides marketing through spatial media. We have the technological prowess to realize creative ideas in real space. Established in 2006, we are now a small business with around 40 employees.

    How do you feel about taking on new challenges?

    Engineers are typically more conservative, while planners are more future-oriented and are always in search of new ideas. We have limited resources and manpower, making it somewhat difficult to easily take on new challenges. That is why R&D projects supported by government organizations such as the Korea Creative Content Agency help a lot. Through projects sponsored by the government, we are able to develop and test items that are one to two years ahead of the industry. The result of these projects is what differentiates our company from our competitors.

    The Hyundai Motor Company project was our most memorable project. When we were bidding for the project, we competed against a prestigious German company that had a lot of experience in the kinetic media industry. We utilized various solutions and technologies that we had accumulated through R&D support. We were able to propose an affordable and solid project with excellent performance. I felt proud that we as a Korean company we able to beat out a foreign competitor.

    Tell us about your experience collaborating with a kinetic artist.

    Many famous kinetic artists are Korean, including Choi Bool-am. However, many of these artists are not yet interested in commercial media. Easywith has collaborated with artists Jeon Jun-ho and Yang Mi-na. We hope to collaborate with more artists in the future.

    What is your strategy for the future?

    Our goal is to become a reference point in the media content industry. We are focusing on expanding into areas that can be commercialized. We are enhancing the added value of products by making a kinetic media platform and digital new media contents and creating a platform to operate these contents. In the future, we plan to expand our business by widening the scope of our activities to include the retail market and by expanding into the overseas market.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-11-21 View : 5
  • In the New Northern Era, Korea and Russia Move One Step Closer to Understanding Each Other through Content Exchange

    In the New Northern Era, Korea and Russia Move One Step Closer to Understanding Each Other through Content Exchange

    As the New Northern Policy emerges as the core agenda to diversify the foreign relationships of Korea, Russia is rising as a promising new market for Hallyu (Korean Wave). What role can content exchange play in promoting amicable collaboration between Korea and Russia in the New Northern Era?

    By Yang Soo-young, Chief Researcher at the Future Policy Team of the Korea Creative Content Agency, syang21@kocca.kr

    In 2017, the Moon Jae-in administration proposed the New Northern Policy as a means to create new growth engines for the Korean economy and to promote peace and stability through collaboration with Eurasian countries. With the implementation of this policy, collaboration with Eurasian countries is expected to increase in the areas of transportation, logistics, energy, and more. Of the 14 Eurasian countries targeted in the New Northern Policy, Russia is the core targeted region. Besides being a powerful country located near the Korean Peninsula, Russia has a vast market consisting of over 140 million people and serves as a bridgehead for businesses to enter into neighboring countries, including the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS).

    Despite all this, how much do we really know about Russia, the major partner of our New Northern Policy? The stereotypes toward Russia and Russians discussed in Russia Beyond, a newspaper issued by the Russian government include the following: “All Russians are communists,” “Russia is cold and it snows all the time,” “Russians raise brown bears as pets” and “Russians drink lots of Vodka.” These stereotypes are not that much different from the results of the 2017 Korea-Russia Mutual Perception Survey conducted by the Institute of Russian Studies at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. According to the survey results, Koreans most commonly associated Russia with the phrases “cold country” (11%), “the Soviet Union” (10%), “communist country” (7%), and “vodka” (4%).

    Russia is one of the four most powerful countries near the Korean Peninsula along with the United States, Japan, and China and is a region with great geopolitical importance that connects Asia and Europe. Yet, Russia is still a “country of mystery” to Koreans. According to the 2017 Korea-Russia Mutual Perception Survey, only 1% of Koreans and 3% of Russians said that they knew the other country well. Of those surveyed, 46% of all Koreans and 58% of all Russians, about half of the respondents representing each nationality, showed indifference toward the other country. To sum it all up, the relationship between Korea and Russia is awkward and unfamiliar. The recent boom of Hallyu (Korean Wave), however, has increased interest between the two countries, providing ample opportunities to bring the two countries together.

    From Political and Economic Cooperation to Culture and Content Exchange

    Up until now, the relationship between Korea and Russia has focused primarily on politics, diplomacy, and the economy. Ever since establishing diplomatic relations with Russia in 1990, Korea has maintained a cooperative relationship with Russia, a member of the Six-Party Talks and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to establish peaceful governance on the Korean Peninsula. Korea and Russia complement each other in terms of industry and resources, and thus each country plays an important role in the other country’s economy. In light of this mutual economic dependence, it comes as no surprise that respondents to the 2017 Korea-Russia Mutual Perception Survey from both countries named “politics” and “the economy” as the areas requiring the greatest amount of mutual cooperation. In terms of promising areas for mutual cooperation, Korean respondents primarily named “industry/energy” (58%), “politics/diplomacy” (33%) and “military technology” (22%) as their areas of choice, while Russian respondents selected “cutting-edge technology” (32%), “trade” (31%), and “medicine” (31%).

    When asked to come up with an example of cultural exchange between Korea and Russia, many respondents first thought of art and culture exchanges such as the “Bolshoi Ballet Performance in Korea.” In recent years, exchanges between Korea and Russia have occurred regularly in the content category. Did you know that “Cranes,” the main theme song of the mega-hit K-drama Sandglass, which recorded an average viewer rating of 50.8%, was originally sung by popular Russian singer Joseph Kobzon? Similarly, South Korean singer Sim Soo-bong’s 1997 hit song “One Million Roses” was a remake of a song by Russian singer Alla Pugacheva.

    Meanwhile, in 2001, at the Moscow International Film Festival, the first Korean movie special program “The Korean Peninsula: The South and North” was held, where the movie The Isle won the Judges’ Award and peaked Russian interest in Korean movies. Since then, Korean directors such as Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, and Kim Ki-duk have received international attention at prestigious film festivals, which has led to the screening of Korean movies on Russian television.

    The type of Korean content that is most loved by Russians at the moment is K-pop. In 2004, in celebration of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Russia (120 years since diplomatic relations first began in 1884 between Joseon and Russia and 14 years since diplomatic relations began in 1990 between Korea and Russia), Seo Taiji threw a concert in Vladivostok, becoming the first Korean singer ever to perform in Russia.

    In the early 2010s, K-pop spread throughout the world online, which led to the formation of online K-pop fandoms in Russia. The performance by the Korean boy group EXO at the closing ceremony of the 2013 Summer Universiade held in the city of Kazan, Russia, further sparked Russian interest in K-pop. As of 2018, 260,000 Russians are active in K-pop-related clubs, and 880,000 are members of K-pop idol fan clubs.

    Korean content companies and Russian buyers met at the B2B export conference on September 3 and 4 to discuss ways for Korean contents to enter the Russian market and promote collaboration with Russian companies. ⓒKorea Creative Content Agency

    There have also been increased exchanges and collaborations in the gaming industry. As demands for online computer games increased in the early 2000s with the distribution of personal computers with access to high-speed internet, Korean games were promoted through word-of-mouth among Russian internet users. Ever since the first official export of “Ragnarök” to Russia in 2004, games like “Lineage 2” and “Civilization 3” have been hugely popular in Russia. In 2005, Korean-Russian collaboration in the gaming industry progressed, resulting in the creation of the official soundtrack for the game “Soul of the Ultimate Nation,” developed by a Korean company,by the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation.

    Thanks to the propagation of Korean games in the early 2000s, many games, including “Battle Ground” and “ArcheAge” continue to be exported. Recently, demand is increasing for Korean mobile games such as “Lineage 2” and “Lineage M,” reflecting the growth of the mobile game market in Russia.

    New Take-Off of Korea-Russia Content Exchange at the Russia K-content Expo

    Why is it that so many people are still indifferent to Korea-Russia relations despite 30 years of exchange efforts and the political importance of Russia as the core axis of the New Northern Policy? According to the 2017 Korea-Russia Mutual Perception Survey, in addition to the “domestic and overseas political situation” and “geographical distance,” respondents named “prejudice toward the other country (ranked second among Korean respondents at 28% and ranked fourth among Russian respondents at 11%) and “lack of information” (ranked third among Korean respondents at 25% and ranked fourth among Russian respondents at 11%) as major factors hindering the development of a better relationship between the two countries.

    Therefore, efforts must be made to promote the relationship between Korea and Russia by broadening understanding through human interactions and amicable exchanges. The Korean Wave is expanding opportunities for contact and is increasing favorable feelings between the two countries. Content exchange and collaboration is expected to provide new energy to develop the positive relationship between Korea and Russia.

    In an effort to strengthen cooperation and exchange with Russia in the content industry, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and the Korea Creative Content Agency hosted the “K-Content EXPO 2019 Russia” event in Moscow from August 31 to September 4. On August 3 and September 1, a B2C event was held at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow with over 10,000 Korean Wave fans in attendance. Fans explored displays and interactive experience zones in the categories of broadcasting, games, animation and characters, cartoons and webtoons, traditional culture and Korean food, and medical technology, showing great interest in Korean culture and contents. Many fans took pictures in front of K-drama cutouts of popular dramas such as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth and wore the costumes of the cartoon and webtoon characters from Princess Hours and Suddenly a Lady.

    Hallyu fans typically show particular enthusiasm for K-pop, as evidenced by the high popularity of K-pop in Russia. Russian K-pop fans started waiting in long lines early in the the morning on August 31 to attend the performances of Soyou, SF9, CLC, and ONF to be held later that day. While waiting, they showed off their dance moves at a cover dance event and random dance event, raising everyone’s anticipation of the upcoming show. Once the performance began, over 5,000 fans raised the official glow stick of each artist and chanted artist slogans to cheer them on. Some Korean Wave fans in their teens and twenties who attended the concert said, “It’s moving to see the artists in person who we’ve only seen in internet videos.” They continued, “The audience was particularly heated up in this concert thanks to the cover dance and random dance events.”

    The B2B export conference held on September 3 and 4 as part of the expo consisted of networking and business matching events for 30 Korean content companies and 89 buyers in Russia and CIS regions. The B2B event was a valuable opportunity for providers of Korean content to seek ways to enter new markets in Russian-speaking regions where Korean contents are not widespread and to promote collaboration with Russian companies.

    Korean companies that participated in the B2B event spoke of their expectations for the development of the niche market. A broadcasting official said, “We plan on collaborating with Russian companies based on Russia’s demand for K-pop.

    K-pop concert (top) held as part of the “K-Content EXPO 2019 Russia” event and signing event (bottom). ⓒKorea Creative Content Agency

    Russian fans wave the balloons they created as Soyou sings. ⓒMusic Industry Team at the Korea Creative Content Agency

    We must expand opportunities to allow local companies with established capital and a wide distribution network to confirm the demand for Korean Wave in the region and explore the possibility for collaboration.” An official from one game company explained, “Russia is a country where the new game market involving VR technologies has just begun to form. I got the impression that Russia is more active in its desire to introduce new gaming technologies than other countries. Russia will serve as a great testbed for entry into the European market.” Many attendees from the animation and character industry focused on the characteristics of the MD market, which has recently experienced increased demands in Russia, and stated that support is necessary for Korean companies to enter the Russian market.

    Hoping for a closer relationship between Korea and Russia

    As the New Northern Policy marks a milestone in Korea’s collaboration with Russia, which had previously been limited due to economic sanctions imposed by the West, many people are excited about the opportunity to do business with Russia. In order to develop a meaningful relationship between Korea and Russia in the era of New Northern Policy, we must overcome the limitations of the past, and adopt a strategic approach to future cooperation. In order to do so, it is important to expand understanding and the scope of interest between the people of Korea and Russia.

    In this regard, spreading the Korean Wave through on-site collaboration and consumer-friendly exchange is a very important task. Rather than viewing Russia as a new market for the expansion of the Korean economy and its position, we must consider ways to expand the cultural experience of Russians and to contribute to the development of Russian culture and society through Korean Wave contents. We must expand the understanding of and interest in Korea across Russian society by positively impacting Russia through the use of Korean Wave contents.

    There are plenty of opportunities for Korea and Russia to become closer friends. Now, all we need to do is work hard to cooperate and develop a genuine and practical friendship.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-11-21 View : 5
  • “We plan to go crazy for rock music, and through that, convey our sincerity.”

    “We plan to go crazy for rock music, and through that, convey our sincerity.”
    By reporter Kim Ji-hyun, Money Today Network, jihyunsports@mtn.co.kr
    Rock band Wetter

    “We wanted people to listen to our music and get drenched wet with emotion, so we named the group Wetter.” The members of Wetter hope to truly connect with fans through their straightforward lyrics.

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

    “Being good with the chopsticks won’t make me eat; no matter how good I am. I don’t eat much.

    Breaking prejudice will lead to the creation of another one…”

    Lyrics from Wetter’s “Ggondae”

    “Ggondae” is a single that was released by the rock band Wetter in April of this year. Wetter's music is straightforward, as evidenced by its song titles and lyrics. This straightforward attitude can also be seen in the introduction the band wrote for the release of the “Ggondae” single album.

    “This is dedicated to those old folks who want to cut off others in their cowardliness, ignoring the values and beliefs of others. If you say that this is wrong, if you start crying to us about us being immature, then this is dedicated to all of you too.”

    The members of Wetter, influenced by British rock, have no fear when it comes to singing what is in their hearts. Throughout the interview, they showed a stubborn pursuit of their own style of music and a commitment to expressing themselves with complete sincerity.

    Wet and Wetter

    Literally translated from English, the band’s name means “a person who makes you wet.” Lead Vocalist, Choi Won-bin explained the band’s name, saying, “At a festival, I saw all of these sweaty people in the crowd, enjoying the music they were listening to. I want people to listen to our music and get wet with emotion, so I chose the name ‘Wetter’ for our band.”

    Wetter’s honesty is what stirs the emotions of its fans. The band’s songs feature many straightforward lyrics.

    There are also a lot of songs that talk about the band members’ feelings and their feelings of loss while creating music.

    Wetter is as honest with itself as it is with its music. Choi commented, “There is a standard in Korea’s music market. If you deviate a little from this standard, it is not easy to gain fans.” This remark was about the censorship that is well and alive within the Korean music market. In fact, the single, “Ggondae” was actually scheduled to be released last year. However, the band had a disagreement with its former agency about the release of the song. Wetter eventually left the agency and released the song themselves. Wetter is currently looking for a new agency that understands who they are as a band.

    How Wetter Began

    How was such a unique rock band formed? Wetter began when leader Choi Won-bin tried to recruit Jung Ji-hoon, a fellow high school alumnus, in 2014. At the time, Choi was active as a musician, but Jung was a bit distant, choosing to focus on his studies. Fortunately, the two were both interested in movies and fashion, and had similar musical tastes.

    Choi finally succeeded in recruiting Jung as a member after four years of trying. Choi also recruited Heo Jin-hyuk as the band’s drummer. “I had to get him [Heo] to join the band since he reminds me of Ringo Starr," Choi said.

    Choi met guitarist Chae Ji-ho by chance at Wetter’s former agency. Originally, the band had three members plus a different guitarist, who had to leave the band to complete his required military service. Without a guitarist, the band was in danger of breaking up; however, as luck would have it, the band members met Chae, who was a guitarist at their former agency. After meeting Chae, Wetter had four members. In November 2016, Wetter released its single, “WHO” and made its official debut.

    Wetter's debut song, “WHO,” received a warm reception soon after its release. Wetter sold out performances at major Hongdae clubs, including Club FF. The band was then featured on the soundtrack of the popular web drama, “Yellow,” in 2017, helping cement the band’s newfound fame.

    “We Want to Be Remembered as an Authentic Rock Band.”

    Wetter is an authentic rock band influenced by British rock. Nowadays, fusion music, which incorporates a variety of genres of music based on rock, is gaining popularity.” Wetter, however, pursues greater authenticity. The band said that they hope their fans will remember them as a true rock band. “We hope the public recognizes us clearly and distinctively as a rock band. There are many genres under the rock umbrella, and we want to be the band that explores them all,” Choi remarked.

    Indeed, Wetter's music maintains a classic rock sound, while the melody follows the latest trends. This makes it easy for people who are unfamiliar or inexperienced with rock to enjoy their music. Wetter is a fascinating group that preserves the colorful characteristics of rock while continuing to evolve.

    Another selling point of Wetter is the band members’ appearances. When asked what Wetter’s charm is, Choi confidently replied, "All of us are handsome." He added, “We tend to care a lot about how we look. It could be an edge that we have over other groups." Wetter members put a lot of effort into fashion for photos and album jackets, as well as for their live shows at festivals and clubs.

    Muzik and Stealer products have a strong design philosophy. ⓒMuzik

    They have worked with model Park Hee-soo to perfect their style. Wetter is outfitted by VU, a brand owned by Park Hee-soo.

    Entering the Global Rock Scene

    With the support of the Korea Creative Content Agency, Wetter traveled to the UK for 23 days. There, they performed a joint concert with the British band Wooze and got an even better feel for the British style of rock that has so heavily influenced their band.

    Bassist Jung Ji-hoon said, “Rock is not a popular genre here in Korea, and I was worried that it would be similar in the UK. But when I actually went there, I felt that at least over there, rock will never lose its popularity.” He added, “Going on this tour of the UK gave me more motivation to keep playing the music I am passionate about, rather than just trying to be popular. I know that I should keep pursuing British rock.”.

    Drummer Heo Jin-hyuk said frankly, “Every time I work on music, I am obsessed with having to always be perfect. But since going to the UK, I've learned that pursuing what we are interested in can lead to great music.” Guitarist Chae Ji-ho chimed in saying, "The UK enjoys freedom of expression. From now on, when we make music, I want to focus not on self-censorship and trying to meet some standard, but on freely expressing ourselves.” Vocalist Choi Won-bin further emphasized, "We have been inspired by this journey of introducing our music to the world.”

    Wetter hopes that, in the future, the Korean rock scene will see new growth. Jung commented, saying, “I hope that rock bands are given more exposure through the media, so that they have more of a chance to show the public what rock music and rock bands are all about.” He continued, "We will continue to work hard and take every opportunity to meet with the media and the public."

    Wetter hopes that their audiences will find their music to be sincere. Choi, remarked, “I would like our fans to know that Wetter is not simply trying to make money off of music. We are crazy about rock, and we love rock music.” He also emphasized that, “Our band should feel authentically cool, and for that to happen, we’ll have to make more appealing music in the future.”

    INTERVIEW
    What’s your favorite song?

    Choi Won-bin: “Ggondae.”

    Heo Jin-hyuk: “Ggondae.”

    Jung Ji-hoon: “Where is My Everything?”

    Chae Ji-ho: “The Other Way.”

    What song do you want people to know about?

    Choi Won-bin: “I Don't Wanna be a Doll.”

    Heo Jin-hyuk: “Ggondae.”

    Jung Ji-hoon: “WHO”.

    Chae Ji-ho: “I Don't Wanna be a Doll.”

    What was the hardest song to make?

    Choi Won-bin: None of them. Maybe it’ll be the next song we make.

    Heo Jin-hyuk: “Don’t Make Me Dance.”

    Jung Ji-hoon: “Coffee & Diamond.”

    Chae Ji-ho: All the songs from the first mini-album

    What was the song that was the quickest and easiest to make?

    Choi Won-bin: “You.”

    Heo Jin-hyuk: “You.”

    Jung Ji-hoon: “You.”

    Chae Ji-ho: “Lucy.”

    Who is your favorite artist?

    Choi Won-bin: Most recently, it’s C Jamm. I was inspired by his album that was released in May.

    Heo Jin-hyuk: Viagra Boys. Jung Ji-hoon: Oasis.

    Chae Ji-ho: No one.

    Besides music, what are your interests?

    Choi Won-bin: Taking care of my health. If you take your vitamins, it’s great for your body.

    Heo Jin-hyuk: Food. I love eating good food. It makes me happy.

    Jung Ji-hoon: I like gaming and movies.

    Chae Ji-ho: I like drinking.

    Anything else you’d like to tell your fans?

    Choi Won-bin: Please take your vitamins.

    Heo Jin-hyuk: Please listen to a lot of Wetter songs.

    Jung Ji-hoon: Please send us your love.

    Chae Ji-ho: Stay strong. Go Wetter!

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-10-10 View : 29
  • Muzik and Stealer: Pioneering New Directions for Hallyu with Eyewear

    Muzik and Stealer: Pioneering New Directions for Hallyu with Eyewear

    Eyewear, which was once used solely to correct vision problems, has recently become a hot fashion item. Fashionistas use square frames to convey an intellectual image, or wear round frames to make themselves look young or cute. Eyewear is a niche that emerged after glasses gained acceptance and popularity as a fashion statement.

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

    The market research firm IMARC predicts that the global market for eyewear will reach $170 billion by 2022. In addition, it forecasts a growth rate (CAGR) of 8% from 2017 to 2022.

    Muzik and Stealer Emphasize Unique Designs

    The Muzik Creative Label (Muzik and Stealer) is a popular Korean brand in the eyewear market. The company has launched two eyewear brands, Muzik and Stealer, both of which are doing well. Muzik is a popular brand designed to be as accessible and trendy as listening to music. The brand also collaborates with various artists and writers. Stealer is an eyewear brand that uses metal materials such as titanium, aluminum, stainless steel, and beta steel to create freeing and unique designs. In general, the sales department of a house brand represents the largest part its management and adopts a sales strategy that focuses heavily on product sales and supply. Muzik and Stealer, however, have branding teams that are larger than their sales teams and seek to establish brand identity, as well as large design teams that work to increase product value. Rather than supplying similar types of glasses in bulk, priority is given to branding and designing at a smaller scale in order to maintain consistency and brand identity.

    The idea of consistency and brand identity goes beyond product design and extends to packaging, brand-specific colors, fonts, images, and seasonal images that are all organized and produced in a unified manner. As a result of its keen attention to brand details, Stealer is gaining recognition as a brand that is equal to foreign high-end brands. Muzik and Stealer explain that it is important to take advantage of the special “cold feeling” of metal in order to create an understated image.

    Moving to Korea to Produce Horn-Rimmed Metal Frames

    Muzik and Stealer have received several awards for their efforts and achievements in design. Some of these awards include the IF Design Award, one of the world's top three designer awards, and Italy’s A’Design Award, not to mention Korea’s K-Design Award.

    Muzik and Stealer have been making products with the global market in mind ever since their launch in 2013. At first, they made their horn-rimmed frames in France. At the time, horn-rimmed frames were a global trend.

    However, not long after, they began to mix their new horn-rimmed frames with metal; this mixed metal style began to gain in popularity. However, there were few factories in France that could mix and process metal on the horn material. After much deliberation, Muzik and Stealer decided to move to South Korea.

    In 2014, with the launch of Stealer’s metal frames, Muzik and Stealer became household names. In Korea at that time, when it came to eyewear, there were very few brands in the entire fashion sector that dealt only with metals. Stealer’s lighter and more comfortable metal frame added a sensory element to eyeglass design, and the Musk and Stealer brands continued to gain in popularity.

    Product made in collaboration with singer Naul. Ⓒ MUSIC

    A Favorite of Celebrities

    Stealer did not actively seek any kind of celebrity marketing or endorsement. Nevertheless, celebrities heard about the brand and began to wear their frames. Such celebrities include Girls' Generation’s Taeyeon and Sooyoung, G-Dragon, Giant, Yoo Jae-suk, Jung Jae-hyung, Son Dam-bi, Boa, and actors Jung Kyung-ho and Namgoong Min. BTS band members have also recently been spotted wearing Stealer products.

    Eyewear companies often face many difficulties when entering overseas markets due to differences in face shape between Asians and Westerners. Muzik and Stealer produce marketing materials that show how well suited their products are to European and American faces. Every season, the studio holds a photo shoot featuring fashion influencers and members of the general public at a photo studio in Milan, Italy.

    Thanks to these and other efforts, the brands have been well-established in Asia, in places such as Thailand, Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan as well as in the West. In Asian countries, the brands use showrooms and pop-up stores as part of their sales strategies. Muzik and Stealer are also gaining popularity in Japan, which is known for having high barriers to market entry.

    Muzik and Stealer products have a strong design philosophy. ⓒMuzik

    Osaka Hankyu Department Store, which recorded the second-highest sales among all department stores in Japan last year, operated its first Korean eyewear pop-up store for two months. Since Japan has such high-quality domestic house eyewear brands, the mere entry of Muzik and Stealer into Japan is a tremendous achievement.

    KOCCA Helps Brands Position Themselves on the World Stage

    Muzik and Stealer credit the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) with helping them expand overseas through the 2019 Overseas Exhibition Support Project.

    Participation in brand shows is very important in the fashion industry. In order to receive orders, companies must go abroad to showcase their brands. The biggest event in the eyewear sector is the Silmo Show held in Paris, France. However, since this is the largest eyewear show in the world, participation costs are considerably high. Renting a booth costs upwards of tens of millions of won. The cost of decorating a booth is a huge burden for relatively small eyewear brands.

    Kim Jun-ho, head of Muzik and Stealer’s strategic planning team explained, “Even if it [a show] costs a lot, the problem is solved if an order is secured. But it’s hard to be so confident that we’ll have such good results. We decided that it would be too much of a financial burden to participate [in the show] at our own expense, so we applied for the overseas support project operated by KOCCA.” Thanks to KOCCA’s support, Muzik and Stealer were able to obtain a large booth at the center of the Silmo Show, rather than being stuck in the corner.

    Kim added, “At the overseas shows, there are also famous global brands and leading fashion companies, so you can meet more potential buyers. It reflects well on our brands just to be setting up in the same vicinity.”

    INTERVIEW
    Leading the Eyewear Market, Originality Captures the Eyes of Fashionistas

    Kim Jun-ho, Head of Strategic Planning

    How were Muzik and Stealer born?

    The brands were launched in October 2013 as a single brand—Muzik Co., Ltd. What's unique is that the company was built by experts who were active in other fields, but did not have much experience in the eyewear industry. Park In-cheol was a screenwriter, and in the beginning, the design team lead had experience in car and airplane design; another member of the team was a former music video director. However they all had a lot in common in that they were all interested in design and eyewear.

    What do you do at Muzik and Stealer?

    Prior to joining this company, I was responsible for future strategic planning at Hyundai Department Store as part of the store’s product division. I have known the current CEO of Muzik and Stealer for a long time. I saw the potential of the creation and growth of Muzik as a brand. Often in Korea we see only large fashion brands survive. In the realm of eyewear, however, Muzik created its own market; it had a concept. The company also pursued sales methods targeting the global market. Currently, as the head of strategic planning, I am in charge of leading new eyewear business endeavors. I propose business strategies or establish and execute distribution strategies. As part of this, I also look for government support projects.

    What products have been designed in collaboration with famous writers and designers?

    Our collaboration with singer Naul is well known. Naul is famous not only as a musician, but he is also known as a writer. Taking advantage of Naul’s edgy personal style, we launched a pair of 70s-style vintage frames. Another collaboration was done with calligrapher Kelly Park. There have also been collaborations with Kakao Friends and Samsung Galaxy. Stealer worked with the Yoon Design Group to develop a range of eyewear products using the Hangeul (Korean) letters, ㅇ, ㄴ, and ㄷ. This line has been especially popular among foreign guests as gifts.

    What's the most important thing when working with a celebrity or influencer?

    Celebrities and influencers try to show the product naturally in their everyday lives, and don’t give off the feeling that the product is being advertised. Even though the brand of a pair of sunglasses, for example, is not visible in a photo, people leave comments asking the celebrity or influencer where they got them.

    What is your global marketing strategy?

    The company plans to introduce the Muzik and Stealer brands by creating a flagship store where overseas customers can experience the products in person. Beyond that, this year we will enter the Red Dot Design Awards competition with our Innocean smart sunglasses. Conventional smart sunglasses are clunky and have a distinct tech device appearance. However, we are confident that our sunglasses are designed so well that they are indistinguishable from ordinary sunglasses.

    Writer : KOCCA Date : 2019-10-10 View : 10
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