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K-pop agencies move beyond music

Oct. 5, 2017 - 13:48 By Hong Dam-young
Listening to K-pop through digital media is no longer enough for many K-pop fans, as they are now demanding contact, either direct or indirect, with the stars in real life.

Catering to those needs, major Korean agencies have been establishing multimedia complexes where fans can indulge in K-pop in ways other than music. 

G-Dragon appears on a promotion video of Jeju Shinhwa Wolrd (Jeju Shinhwa World)

At the forefront of this new K-pop business is YG Entertainment, which is preparing to launch a theme park called YG Town, in the Jeju Shinhwa World resort on Jeju Island, which opened Saturday.

YG Town is scheduled to open in November, and includes a coffee shop and a bowling alley that Big Bang frontman G Dragon helped plan and design. Aiming to lure K-pop fans of all ages and nationalities, the YG cultural area will also include a space where DJ parties can be held, an outdoor theater and a building designed to resemble a keyboard with trendy shops. 

Jeju Shinhwa World (Jeju Shinhwa World)

Jeju Shinhwa World (Jeju Shinhwa World)

The high-end resort, which spans approximately 2.5 square kilometers, will continue to open other facilities, including a movie theme park, a casino and a water park by 2019.

FNC Entertainment, home to artists such as FT Island and CN Blue, recently opened a celebrity-themed space called FNC WOW in Myeong-dong, a downtown Seoul shopping district popular with tourists. Designed to reflect celebrities’ backstage areas in the 70s and 80s, the retro entertainment space also has a bakery and coffee shop where visitors can enjoy drinks and desserts while checking out content related to FNC artists. Fans can order desserts that are named after the agency’s musicians, such as CN Blue Berry cake, at the coffee shop. An official of the agency told media that FNC WOW was one of the agency’s attempts to expand its channels for fans, and that they are planning to increase the content in the space in the future. FNC WOW operates from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. throughout the year. 

FNC WOW (Screencaptured from YouTube)

S.M. Entertainment was the first major K-pop agency to use an offline site to connect K-pop stars and fans, opening S.M. Town Coex Artium near Samseong Station in Seoul, in January 2015. It is a six-floor compound complete with contents related to the S.M.’s musicians.

Calling itself a “theme park in the city,” Coex Artium features a variety of facilities and activities, including celebrity shops where visitors can purchase T-shirts, hats and other licensed products along with signed photos. There is also a cafe that offers celebrity-themed snacks and drinks and SM Town Theater, where hologram musicals and other performances are regularly put on. Coex Artium is open throughout the year. K-pop fans can also check out the first floor of the agency’s headquarters in nearby Gangnam-gu, which has an S.M. restaurant, coffee shop and exhibitions.

While leading agency JYP Entertainment doesn’t run any entertainment complexes for now, expectations have been rising that the agency may arrange a space for fans after it moves its headquarters to Gangdong-gu, Seoul, near Olympic Park.

By Hong Dam-young (