International content creation made possible thanks to 'ON: Hallyu Festival'
Webtoons could be the key to bringing about international content collaboration and cultural exchange between Korea and Japan, Japanese publishing company Shueisha’s chief editor Kota Saito said on Tuesday at the Korea-Japan Joint Content Production Presentation held during the first “ON: Hallyu Festival” in Coex, southern Seoul.
The “ON: Hallyu Festival,” which will be held annually, was co-organized by the Korea Creative Content Agency (Kocca), the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and Naver, to console Hallyu (or Korean Wave) fans feeling down because of Covid-19, as well as give Hallyu-related companies a chance to seek business opportunities overseas. It comes as a part of the Culture Ministry's New Hallyu Promotion Policy announced in July, which promises to focus on promoting new Hallyu content exports to the global market with the help of already successful Hallyu content, such as K-pop, games and films.
For Tuesday’s presentation, Park Seung-ryong, general director of the global business division at Kocca, Lee Eun-seon, team director at Seoul Media Comics (SMC) and Toyou’s Dream’s Japan business department manager Ko Cha-ram took part while Saito joined through an online video call.
Thanks to Kocca’s previous content expos held in the past, the two Korean content-creating companies SMC and Toyou’s Dream will have their webtoons serialized on Shueisha’s online comics platform Manga-Mee starting this month.
“We at the Seoul Media Comics have imported and introduced numerous works by Shueisha such as the ‘Dragon Ball’ series to Korea,” said Lee. “But thanks to the ‘2019 Global Content Conference’ held in December last year by Kocca, we met with chief editor Saito for the first time, which led to us exporting our work to Shueisha. We think it is very meaningful that, thanks to Kocca’s support, we were able to bring about a two-way business content transaction between the two companies.”
Three works created under SMC and one work created under Toyou’s Dream will go online this month. Saito cited the high quality of Korean webtoons in his decision to post them on the Japanese platform, hoping that it will lead to collaborative synergy in the future by authors from the two countries.
“The Japanese manga market is still dominated by black and white paper comic books, but we started our webtoon business in 2018 and one of them has proven to be one of the three most popular in all of Japan,” he said. “But the number of Japanese authors who create webtoons is small, which is why we came to the decision to have Korean authors have their works on Manga-Mee [...] Korean webtoons have a lot of elements that are popular with Japanese readers, and also contain an element that's popular around the world.
“Japanese works are very well curated. So if Korea and Japan can use the strengths in the works of each country to create and share new ones, then a new hit [webtoon] might be born.”
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Kocca has moved its efforts to connect local content creators to overseas business opportunities online.
Online business meetings and promotional events for Hallyu companies have been taking place from earlier this year, such as an online business consultation session on June 30. Kocca has been running an online platform named Global Content Biz On since this month, and hopes it can provide real-time business transactions between local creators and overseas buyers that can chat with each other at any time they want.
Talks about Toyou’s Dream first began in June last year and it took over a year for a deal to be realized.
Taking into consideration the amount of time that goes into such deals, it's unlikely that there will be any immediate visible outcomes from the “ON: Hallyu Festival” — but it has still been meaningful.
“If we hadn’t been given a chance to meet with overseas buyers, then the chance of getting new opportunities would have been absolutely zero,” said Ko of Toyou’s Dream. “That is exactly what would have been the case, because of the coronavirus. Kocca’s events help in that they open the doors for us. We hope that this leads to other opportunities in the future.”
For other local businesses, one-on-one online export consultation sessions were held throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday at the Grand Ballroom in Coex to connect small- and medium-sized content companies in Korea to buyers from all over the world.
Local businesses took part inside the venue prepared at the Coex Grand Ballroom while overseas buyers took part in online meetings as well as through the online promotional website, which recommends Korean companies that may be of interest to individual buyers and connects them directly for online meeting sessions at the buyer's request.
Kocca also introduced overseas content creators and shared the local market trends in respective countries via the Kocca Business Centers that have been bridging Korea and various nations including China, Japan and Indonesia.
Start-up companies from all fields — including, television, games, comics, story and immersive content — that have been nurtured by Kocca were also introduced to overseas buyers. An online mentoring session was held for Korean start-ups seeking business opportunities overseas by Indonesian entrepreneurs, also a part of the K-Content Expo Indonesia event that’s usually held in Indonesia.
A “Live Commerce Program” also kicked off on Monday for Hallyu fans. Providing an online and offline commerce event that makes use of television, music and performance, the program aims to increase demand for local businesses’ Hallyu products, especially in food, beauty and fashion. A fashion show was aired on Monday evening and will be held everyday at 8 p.m. on Naver V Live until Nov. 20. The clothes will be made available on Naver's Shopping Live service.
A grand finale is set for Nov. 23, with an online concert and meet-and-greet event dubbed "Unite ON: Live Concert" to be held at 7 p.m. on Naver V Live, which will be broadcast to 230 countries.
Some of the biggest acts in K-pop, including boy bands SuperM and Monsta X, girl group ITZY as well as performance team Leenalchi, Ambiguous Dance Company, Idiotape and Jambinai, will take part. Immersive technology such as VR (virtual reality) and XR (extended reality) will be used to offer entertainment to the fullest.
While the festival is mostly online, Kocca has created a way for people to “look around.” The festival’s official website has a “virtual market” program which allows users to walk around the venue with an avatar. Users can click on each company's booth, watch videos that are played in the adverts and interact with other users.
"I hope that the first 'ON: Hallyu Festival' becomes an iconic Hallyu festivity that allows not only high-quality Korean content, but also related Hallyu industries, to spread across the world," said Culture Minister Park Yang-woo.
"The festival will offer a helping hand for people around the world who have been stricken by Covid-19 to feel consoled, and local companies as well."
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]