Korea's kidult trend strengthens during the pandemic
Lee Soo-jin, 43, an office worker in Seoul, recently bought a Friends Apartments Lego set for around 300,000 won ($237).
“I hesitated at first because of the price, but I am very satisfied because it brings back joyful memories and feelings I experienced in the past watching the show,” said Lee, referring to the hit series "Friends."
The "kidult" market is growing fast with the retro boom nationwide, ahead of the 100th anniversary of Children’s Day in Korea.
Sales of kidult products in the country, which totaled around 500 billion won in 2014, surged to 1 trillion won in 2016, according to data by Korea Creative Content Agency (KCCA).
One of the classic toys in high demand by adults, or the kidults, in particular, is Lego.
In response to the increased spending power of kidults, the Lego Group has been diversifying Lego sets for adults based on entertainment, art, design and music, travel and history themes.
It introduced “Orchid” and “Succulents" collections on May 1, and 200 sets were sold out in minutes during a live stream shopping.
“Adult customers were more than 20 percent of the total consumers last year,” said an official of Lego Korea.
Toys “R” Us branches, run by the Lotte Mart, started offering traditional toys, such as Nintendo and Pokemon-themed products, at discounted prices from April 28.
Sales of Pokemon-themed toys, such as models, cards and dolls jumped more than 320 percent between April 28 and May 2 compared to the same period last year.
Sales of Nintendo products soared 260 percent, while the sales of plastic model kits, such as Star Wars and Gundam, increased by over 40 percent.
In line with the rising retro trend, Korean fashion retailer LF introduced a limited edition of the Hazzys X MIMI Collaboration with the Mimi doll and the company’s fashion brand Hazzys. Mimi was created by a domestic toy company called Mimi World in 1983. It is sometimes called Korea's Barbie.
The fashion retailer opened a booth at The Hyundai Seoul in Yeouido, western Seoul, last month, for visitors to try on retro-themed clothes and take photos.
Over 1,000 Mimi dolls were sold out in just 4 days.
Experts say people having to spend most of their time at home during the pandemic had a direct effect on the kidult trend.
“Kidult products provide a sense of comfort to adults,” said Lee Eun-hee, consumer science professor at Inha University.
“The kidult market will grow bigger and more diversified as people nowadays prefer to interact with others with the same interest.”
BY LEE SO-AH [firstname.lastname@example.org]