The five-day Seoul Character and Licensing Fair opened on Wednesday alongside the Asia Animation Forum all held, as in recent years at the impressive Coex facility in the heart of the Korean capital.
To those from outside Korea, the show is a curious mix of business to business and business to consumer. The first two days are primarily aimed at the business community whilst the latter three attract over 200,000 consumers – mostly young children.
As with many shows this year, a high percentage of the properties on view were pre-existing; many were shown here last year or in previous years. A notable exception to this rule was Sunwoo who launched their Angry Birds program at the show.
Amongst major multi-national media companies, only Cartoon Network had a presence though representatives from Disney and others were involved in the concurrent Bizmatching sessions where buyers meet experts from around the world.
On the show floor however, the event seemed if anything more Korean and less international than in previous years. Amongst the 200 or so exhibitors there is only a handful of non-Korean exhibitors.
The emphasis, more than ever, was on preschool in general, and vehicles of one sort of another in particular. Samg had a major presence for their Vroomies property which now has over 100 licensed properties whilst Iconix previewed Tayo the Little Bus and Hong-Kong based Good Link focused on Ming the Minibus. Additional vehicular properties include Ava Entertainment’s Heroes of City and Roi Visual’s Robocar Poli.
As you would expect in Korea, the latest technology played its part with properties for gaming and communications and Apps all in evidence and a number of licensees exhibited mobile and tablet accessories and skins.
The show, supported by Government agency Kocca and other official partners is keen to attract exhibitors and more visitors from overseas. However, in essence it is still a very Korean event. More attention needs to be paid to dual-language badges, signage and information along with a structure which will attract the business community before the event before the show will achieve it’s aim to any great extent. If it is a snapshot of the Korean marketplace you are after, this show is the place to be. If you are looking further afield to Asia in general, Hong Kong in January is probably a safer bet.