Korea currently has one of the world’s lowest birth rates. When asked the reason why, one-child families replied, “We want to concentrate all our attention on and provide the best education for our child, it would have been financially difficult to do this if we had more children to look after.” This comment highlights the immense amount of attention Korean parents pay to their children’s education. Fun and friendly characters play a significant role in inducing a child’s interest in education. As a reasult, character creation and character licensing are business experiencing exponential growth in Korea. World-famous characters like Mickey Mouse from Walt Disney and Hello Kitty from Sanrio have created an explosion of toys, books and consumer products. Many Korean creative contents agencies are aiming to follow in their footsteps.
Character licensors are responsible for the creating and managing of contracts between the owner of a brand and a company wanting to use it to advertise a product. In order to promote the industry in general as well as create a venue for domestic and foreign licensing agents to come together, KOCCA (Korea Creative Content Agency) has been organizing a yearly event sponsored by LIMA (International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association). The 9th annual 2010 Seoul Character & Licensing Fair will take place at Coex Convention Center in Seoul, South Korea from July 21 to July 25. One of Asia’s largest licensing exhibitions and licensing trade fairs, this year’s event is projected to attract over 190,000 visitors and 170 companies from Korea and abroad.
The Korea Creative Contents Agency was established in 2009 to support the growth of the cultural industry. The establishment was also a joining of the Korea Broadcasting Institute, the Korea Culture and Contents Agency, the Korea Game Industry Agency, the Cultural Contents Center, and the Digital Contents Business Group. Headed by Chairman, Lee Jae-woong, KOCCA has been overseeing Korea’s creative contents industry and has made various efforts to induce foreign interest. Such efforts include B2B (business to business) programs that bring companies together to exchange information as well as helping companies form partnerships that allow them to advance even further in the industry.
The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association is the leading trade organization in the global licensing industry. The organization is based in New York and has over 1,000 offices around the world, including London, Munich, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong. LIMA has been cooperating with KOCCA to support its objective to promote the cultural contents industry. Most foreign exhibitors and buyers visit the Seoul Character and Licensing Fair due to information distributed by LIMA. The chairman of LIMA, Charles M. Riotto aims to create international networking opportunities for direct communications amongst international companies. Chairman Riotto, the person responsible for increasing U.S. retail character licensing sales to US$ 107 billion and global sales to US$ 189 billion, will give a lecture during the fair’s casual conference entitled “U.S. Licensing Market Trend”.
The 2010 Seoul Character & Licensing Fair will be conducted in two parts; Business days and Public days. Business days will consist of B2B (business to business) conferences and biz-matching programs for companies. Public days are dedicated B2C (business to consumer) events for visitors to see and experience various events related to the creative contents business.
Board Game Con
The Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) will also host a game convention for board games, the “2010 Korea Board Game Conference” during the fair. The annual event marks its sixth anniversary this year and will be held throughout the fair. KOCCA is hosting the event with the Korea Association of Boardgame Industry (KIBA), and it is being sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Over 100 booths will be set up for visitors to see and play board games. Competitions and new board game contests are also expected to take place during the convention.
KOCCA, in cooperation with SPP (Seoul Promotion Plan), has invited 55 international buyers to this year’s fair to participate in their biz-matching program. This will take place during business days and will consist of 1:1 meetings with international buyers and Korean exhibitors. The buyers will be presented with contents and promotional materials.
Visitors of the fair will get to experience different aspects of creative content, from creation to production to marketing. Furthermore, children can create their own characters using clay and create 3D contents at animation booths. This year’s fair has also created a toy donation drive designed to give back to the local. The donation of a used toy will grant a person free entrance to the fair.
More than 170 booths Will be set up by various character developers and licensors. The most visited exhibition at the fair:
Iconix Entertainment specializes in animation planning and marketing. It has established a pan-universal network and boasts international competitiveness accumulated through experience in both domestic and overseas markets. The representative character of Iconix is “Pororo the Little penguin”, the most popular Korean character amongst Korean children in preschool. The company is making various efforts to create new markets and advance into domestic animation businesses such as publication, video, exhibitions and musical performances. Iconix’s booth has seen the highest number of visitors every year.
Ocon was established in 1996 as an animation production company. The company focuses on the development and production of high-quality CGI animation. It employs over 60 creative artists and is the leading Korean expert in 3D animation. Ocon takes responsibility of popular animations such as Pororo and Dibo, and has created more than 750 episodes of 3D animation.