- Jeju Life
- Local Businesses
"Artpq.Co., ltd was founded in 2000, when the Internet began commoditizing and the digital industry expanded quickly. As artists like painters and sculptors began collaborating with the IT sector, interest has grown so much in convergence content," said Oh Tae Heon, CEO of Artpq, which has been presenting a character called 'MONGNI' since 2005 based in Jeju.
Oh Tae Heon, CEO of ARTPQ
"The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy has undertaken the project for Jeju, the digital island project, as one of the MoTIE local innovation projects. At that time, I was able to join as a design company for a manufacturing project for made-in-Jeju souvenirs."
Jeju-specific content beginning with "Haenyeo (woman diver)"
Looking for content specific to Jeju, Mr. Oh found "Haenyeo"(woman divers). Children aged 8-10 were targeted. The two characters, MONGNI, a little haenyeo who is funny and adventure-loving, and SOJUNGI, a little girl with sensitivity and inquisitiveness, were created and further refined, reflecting the market responses after their release. "MONGNI with goggles and red t-shirt on top of her diver suit were an addition made in the refinement process. Their being naughty could mean that she has the guts to be herself and her own ideas to stick to. I thought the little girl would represent a strong haenyeo." That is how little haenyeo MONGNI was born.
Mongni introduced at overseas exhibitions, character fair, etc
He experienced a lot of trial and error. After meeting with potential buyers at international fairs, he learned that more detailed preparations were needed in terms of product strategy and content strategy for a character business. As a result, he has expanded the character domains into character fairs, Jeju local events and festivals, merchandise, content, animations, and games. Somewhere along the line, MONGNI has grown to be a solid long-lived character standing out not only in Jeju but in Korea.
Support to Expand the Market for the OSMU Content is the Key
"MONGNI" products of dolls, goods, and toys
The Secrets of the Story Island 3D is in the making on top of such animations as Mongni & Eco-guardians, 'I am MONGNI,' and 'Revival of the Black Dragon.' 'Secrets of the Story Island,' dealing with myths has already been presented in a webtoon and will be made into a 3D animation.
Artpq, a character creator commanding a good reputation in Jeju, has its character sales taking up only 10 to 20% of the total sales, proving that profitability from a character business only is hard to secure.
"The current character business is hardly profitable in terms of its income structure. Bold investments are needed to help a content business take root in a market. It is true that a character is a representative OSMU(One-Source Multi-Use) content for added value across industries including stationery, toys, apparel, fancy goods, and the leisure area, but massive investment and human resources are needed to build a working structure."
Oh said that a character should last long to create high-added value. That's why he emphasizes that the support for sales channels and systems to create a realistic profit structure should come before the support for merchandization and service. "There are a variety of ways to take advantage of content. You can collaborate with the Jeju local companies of, for example, foods and cosmetics, or add content onto local specialty products," said Oh.
17 years have passed since "MONGNI" came to life. Artpq envisions building a theme park, where Jeju local characters are aggregated and presented. Oh makes his bid for a win with the constant research into characters and a forward-looking investment strategy.
*Artpq, the company name, carries his wish for the company to serve as a gate (gate in Chinese character). Artpq in English is the figuration of pq (gate) in Chinese character.