There are several blisses for adults, called the “kidult culture.” Many adults enjoy this culture and they are enthusiastic about the things that the kids play with. ST introduces the various kind of kidult culture. Ed
The recent generation 2030 are enthusiastic about the charming innocence of childhood. Adults want to be rid of “adultness” and pursue pop culture, including the value of fun and childish fantasy mediated by childish “naivete.” Society calls them “kidults” in reference to “kiddish adult.” Once upon a time, the kidult culture had a strong negative nuance as a “mental regression phenomenon.” It was considered as a minority of immature and nonmainstream culture. However, as the numbers of kidults are increasing in recent years and the market targeting kidults is growing rapidly, kidult culture has become a part of the mainstream culture that many people have come to love. Dr. Kim Chang-ki, a neuropsychiatrist, said, “Kidult culture is a ‘low-level’ deviation and a ‘mind opener’ for a new generation posing no harm or showing compassion.” He added, “It reflects the mentality of our contemporaries that gets out of ‘a heavy responsibility’ as a nostalgia about ‘a joyful childhood’ or an expression of unconditional psychology of escape that all adults possess.”
FIGURES AND PLA MODELS
The two prominent things known to hobbyists that help kidults to be lost in old memories are figures and Pla models. However, there are clear differences between them, so kidults are at a crossroads. Figures are the finished toys with moveable joints that can express various motions. On the other hand, Pla models are toys with completely assembled plastic parts, and they have paintable surfaces. Therefore, you can enjoy figures if you prefer to appreciate toys. Otherwise,
if you prefer to make your own toys, you can enjoy the Pla models. In case of figures, Marvel characters like Iron Man and Captain America, and Bearbrick that has a value of possession because of the scarcity through charming collaborations are loved by kidults. In case of Pla
models, long-loved Gundam models and military models that assemble tanks, combat planes, vessels, and the infantry are the most popular. Because of these various figures and Pla models, there is an increasing desire of possession and the value of possession becomes higher, and they are creating a huge fan base. Figures and Pla models are remarkably expensive. Furthermore, there is a significantly large consumption by fans which resulted in an unstable market.
As a child, I have memories of playing with slimes, which are also called “liquid monsters.” The whole country seemed to be in the grip of the slime fever again when singer IU uploaded a short video of her playing with slime on Instagram in 2017. Kidults are fascinated with a puddingy and gelatinous texture, and a sticky sound. Nowadays, there are various types of slime, such as sticky slime, cream slime, pearl slime, pudding slime, magnetic slime, and other novel slime. Kidults are not only buying slime, but they are also making their own slime. This is the reason why slime is popular. Moreover, there are lots of YouTube channels aimed at kidults. They produce slime and play with it. You can easily experience slime indirectly by SNS, broadcast programs, and YouTube channels. Kidults seek more various types of slime through the slime’s soft and sticky texture, and the sound it produces.
In the old days, animations like “Crayon Shin Chan,” “Peanuts,” and “Winnie the Pooh” are exclusively geared toward children. However, it becomes a part of adults’ hobbies, and even theaters showing animated films like “Underdog” and “Wreck-It Ralph”
are full of adults. Live-action films have also attracted attention. Adults waited for the release dates of movies, such as “Lion King,” “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” and “Mulan,” which were part of their childhood. Kidults
want to be reminded of their childhood years in books following movies and animations. The recollected characters, such as “Anne” and “Bonobono,” appear in the books that the kidults are trying to read. People who found these media are creating a huge fan base in movies, animations, books, and so on. The love of these fans is related to their love of the characters, thereby resulting in their
purchasing of character merchandise.
When you imagine actor Shim Hyung-tak, you can recall his love for “Doraemon.”
By collecting Doraemon merchandise, he regains his mental health security. Apart from
Mr. Shim, actor Kim Hyang-ki loves Shin Chan, and Jin, a member of BTS, loves Super
Mario, and Chanyeol, a member of EXO, loves Rilakkuma. As these cute characters
are very popular among kidults, collaboration products have also gained popularity. The
classic brand is SPA brand, “SPAO.” SPAO launched lots of collaboration products,
such as Shin Chan, We Bare Bears, Sailor Moon, Adventure Time with Finn and Jake,
and others, and stole the kidult consumers’ heart. Thanks to these consumers, companies that earn tremendous sales profit unveil more various collaboration products and lead the consumers to opening their wallets. In addition, companies are exclusively targeting kidults. Credit cards with conservative and nondescript designs have been changed into charming characters that people love. The staff of a company said that character credit cards are hard to popularize, but it is enough to make regular customers because of a higher loyalty. The representative example is the Kakao Bank check card designed with Kakao Friends. The main customers of this bank are adults. Nevertheless, there are approximately 1,000,000 cards sold in the first week of its release. This proves that character marketing is successful. Many people are attracted to charming characters because these reminded them of their childhood years. The strong connection of kidults to the characters will not subside for a while. To date, kidult culture is still flourishing and it will continue to grow for a very long time.
Kim Se-been [ST Cub-Reporter]