When you watched the Korean famous TV program, “I Live Alone,” you have seen celebrities who put their action figures and Gundam models on display in their houses and feel satisfaction. Although their age is well over 20, age is no more than a number. People who are happy with collecting and playing with things that someone may feel to be childish are called “Kidult” On the contrary to the past when Kidults were thought to be in a state of mental regression, a culture which respects the individuality of each person has become established, and there are more Kidults around us than before.
What is a Kidult?
It is a combination of the words “kid” and “adult,” and a newly-coined word refers to adults who like the sensibilities and tastes of children. Kidults feel nostalgia from toys, cartoons, and clothes that they loved when they were young and enjoy them again. Where did this “Kidult” culture come from? It was recognized for a while that it was not appropriate for adults to seek innocence and pureness like children, because the words “adult” and “pureness” were used in the opposite sense. However, lately, lots of adults want to escape from their hard realities, so they have increasingly tried to do what they like to release stress. This Kidult culture has become, not a nonmainstream, but one of the main social phenomena.
Introduction of Kidult Culture
Make a New World: Lego
Lego is one of the things many Kidults love. Why is Lego able to be loved by Kidults? The point is “creation.” They can make in reality what they imagine. Kidults are enthusiastic about the process of assembling various bricks to create their own creations because creating something is one of the instincts of play. People who love Lego make their own miniature cities and reproduce art works in 3D through Lego. And this point is differentiated from other toys that should be assembled as instructed in the manual. Also, Lego imported to Korea in the 1980s that adults now in their 20s and 30s played with when they were young is inspiring their memories. Recently, the new word “Letech” (Lego + finance technology) which refers to people buying and selling limited editions of Lego for a high price, has been coined.
Lots of Themes: Bearbrick
If you imagined a simple figure of teddy bear, it is a big misunderstanding. Since it appeared in 2001, Bearbrick has been loved by many fans due to its hundreds of different designs: there are Batman, Spiderman, Mickey Mouse, Iron man, Shrek, and others. At first glance, you might think of them just as teddy bears, but many people are enthusiastic about the intimate and characterful charms of them. Bearbrick is an art toy developed by Keticom Toy Corp. in Japan for adults. At first, they made Bearbrick for the visitors to their character exhibition. As it grew increasingly popular due to its designs, they showed many more diverse designs of Bearbrick to the public. Nowadays, Bearbrick is recognized as one of the cultural contents that represent the 21st century. In addition to the previously mentioned designs, there are designs made with the motif of modern artists’ art works, such as Andy Warhol and Jackson Flock. So, Bearbrick also gives us the feeling of enjoying the arts in addition to just having toys.
Becoming Familiar: Drones
Drones were originally used for military purposes, but recently their scope and purpose of usage have been extended. According to the survey of price comparison on the website “Enuri,” domestic sales of drones are said to have risen 58 percent from last year. Even within the Kidult product group, the sales rate of drones was 46 percent and ranked first, surpassing Gundam model sales. The price of drones is still expensive, ranging from 900,000 won to 1,500,000 won, but there is great support from those caught up in drone mania. The official on this website said that it is a new trend for people to master how to control drones by first buying low-priced drones and then buying high-priced ones. Recently, the price of drones has become cheaper and the operation of them has also become easier than before, so drones with affordable prices and useful functions are becoming more and more widespread.
The Unchanged Strong: Gundam Models
Gundam models are miniature versions of mobile suits that appears in the Japanese animation “Gundam” series. Since the Gundam models are not completed products, consumers should assemble the small parts themselves. People who love the Gundam models assemble parts first and then color them to make them delicate and perfect. In this process, they feel pleasure in making their own works. The price and grade of the Gundam models are determined by their delicacy and size. Also, the higher the grade, the bigger the size of the Gundam model and the harder it is to assemble the parts. This is not the only reason Gundam models have become loved by Kidults around the world. As mentioned above, Gundam models are based on the Japanese comic, the story of an original work that has impressed and entertained lots of fans.
Come and See ‘Heaven’ for Kidult
These days, places where you can actively enjoy Kidult culture have been increased. There are special shops to buy products for Kidults, as well as exhibitions for Bearbrick. In I-Park Mall located in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, the specialty store for toys named “Toy and Hobby” is exciting lots of Kidults. There is a range of products from Nintendo, which is a popular game machine brand, to Bandai which is famous for Dragon Ball and Doraemon. Recently, this place has shown a steep rise in popularity and is broadening the scope of its influence. Maybe, it might be able to be a new ‘Sacred Place’ for Kidults. Besides, small shops for Kidults located near Hongik University in Mapo-gu are also very popular for their cute interior designs.
Kidult culture has diverse aspects: studying home-school materials again from when they were children and enjoying snacks they loved before, as well as Gundam models and Lego. Nowadays, this Kidult culture has become one of our mainstream cultures. Due to the reason it is not mature, Kidult people who had to hide their hobbies are now recognized as big fans of a specific field. So, we should not judge them blindly as immature. They just pursue what they like.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >