Calling all cute stuff lovers! The “Kute Shops” series is out with a new episode: come and explore with us the place where Kakao Friends live!
KakaoTalk is the leading messaging app in South Korea: in a country where 80% of the population uses mobile phones, 93% of them use KakaoTalk daily to communicate. It’s more or less the equivalent of our WhatsApp, but with a major difference: KakaoTalk (카카오톡 in Korean), more often shortened to KaTalk (카톡 “ka-tok” in Korean), is much more than just a messaging app.
It offers a various array of services, so you can actually use it as a payment form, you can buy music, call a taxi, check the bus and the subway schedule, order food from your favorite restaurants and coffee shops, watch TV shows, shop fashion items, play games, find your perfect hairshop…and so much more! Of course, its primary and most famous function is the good old messaging app.
The messaging app itself is not an ordinary one: apart from chat rooms with your regular contacts, there’s a special Plus Friends section, where the users can get in contact with their favorite music and TV idols and also with brands, that release regular feeds on products as well as discount coupons to be used online or offline.
And then, there are the main stars of this world: the Kakao Friends!
Kakao Friends are born as KaTalk own emoticon characters, used to spice up the users’ texts. We’re not talking about the usual emoticons we’re used to. Kakao emoticons are graphically more developed and also include animated characters, many of them with sounds as well.There are 8 characters developed for this app, each of them with its own name and a story behind it (the following images were taken from the Kakao Friends official website).
Being so popular and loved by all, Kakao Friends quickly developed from illustrations to the perfect gadget characters, featured in collaborations with popular brands (like beauty ones) as well as in Kakao own item lines, on sale in dedicated Kakao Friends Stores nationwide, as well as in their official online shop (all sections have been translated into English language, but unfortunately delivery is only available in Korea).
I visited one of these stores last December, upon the new opening of the Hongdae branch, a 3-stories building that also include a Kakao Friends-themed coffee shop.
This was the shop in the late evening, a few days after their official inauguration. A long line of people patiently waiting in the cold weather to get their hands on the cute items sold in the shop…
Now: I love Kakao Friends, but I am really not that obsessed about these cuties to stand in line for so long. So I went there the day after, right upon the shop morning opening: so much better! A lot less people and no line at all to get in.
So, as I said, a 3-stories building. The floor plan is as follows:
As you see, so many different items categories to browse! Now, come with me, I’ll show you around : )
(On a side note: Kakao Friends Store is extremely picture-friendly! Taking pics and video is not only permitted, but also highly encouraged. Someone here is really conscious of the beneficial marketing effects of social media sharing 😉
After a lot of shopping, we headed briefly to the Ryan Coffee Shop on the 3rd floor.
I hope you enjoyed this immersion in the cute world of the Kakao Friends!