Korean IT Firms Cash in on Bangtan Boys' Global Success

  • By Lee Ki-moon

    January 22, 2019 12:49

    Korean IT and game companies are increasingly venturing into new global markets on the back of opportunities created by the huge popularity of K-pop stars Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, and others.

    "Many businesses are taking advantage of worldwide popularity of K-pop and Korean TV shows and are eager to provide a greater variety of media content to a global audience," an industry insider said.

    Naver, Korea's largest portal site, now sells web-based cartoons and licensed character merchandise in partnership with Big Hit Entertainment, which manages the boy superband.

    Naver Webtoon launched the 16-part series "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life" featuring members of BTS last week in Korea and six other countries -- China, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and the U.S.

    Line Friends, the character brand of Naver's messaging app Line, is flogging stationery and home and living products based on BTS in online and offline stores in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the U.S.

    Game developer Netmarble will launch a game called "BTS World" by March this year, which will allow users to become the manager of a band and nurture members into musicians.

    Telecom operators are putting K-pop stars into virtual reality programs. SK Telecom signed an agreement with SM Entertainment in the U.S. last month and unveiled a VR karaoke app. Users put a VR device on their heads and "chat" with Jae-hyun of boy band NCT, who then teaches them singing and dancing.

    LG Uplus is also working with Google to create VR content featuring K-pop stars and make it available to subscribers soon.  

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