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“We are more popular than idol groups,” boasts Kakao Friends

  • [등록일]2017-02-16
  • [조회] 1280

Kakao Friends lead the global emoticon market.



(left) Kakao Friends 8, (right) T-money card decorated with characters


A rather unique idol group is gaining popularity among Koreans. Obviously, it is not an actual idol group dancing in military precision. They are the eight Kakao Friends emoticons?Muji, Con, Apeach, Jay-G, Frodo, Neo, Tube, and Ryan. Why are Koreans fascinated by them? Their faces and bodies do not seem so special. However, once you look at their lovely and adorable gestures and expressions, you would not be able to resist their charm.

Their charm is attracting users in other countries as well. Around 2 billion emoticon messages are sent and received via KakaoTalk, a Korean texting service app, per month. This means that an estimated 10 million users utilize Kakao Friends emoticons every day to express their feelings and emotions in text messages. These friends are as big as a global star like Psy.

KakaoTalk, which began its instant messaging service for mobiles in 2010, created its first line of emoticons in September 2012. They were Muji, Con, Apeach, Jay-G, Frodo, Neo, and Tube. In 2016, Ryan was added to the lineup. Kakao Friends attracted the attention of users by using unique sticker emoticons instead of characters taken from popular animated films. These unique characters can convey emotions that text alone cannot deliver by itself. As all the characters have personalities of their own and portray such diverse emotions, one emoticon is enough to explain the complex state of mind of a user most of the time. Kakao Friends have literally become a substitute persona for mobile SNS users regardless of their age and sex.


Brush Teeth with “Apeach Toothpaste”, Wear “Con T-Shirt”, and Eat “Muji Chocolate Bread”



(left) Cosmetic products collaborated with the Face Shop, (right) KakaoTalk flagship store which opened in April


As Kakao Friends have become a part of our daily communication, products that feature their charm were created, and the business expanded from mobile to off-line. In regards, below is the description of virtual day with Kakao Friends.

In the early morning with your eyes half closed, you start your day by brushing your teeth with Apeach Toothpaste. For some reason, your morning ritual feels more refreshing. There is no need to rush this morning as it is school vacation. You open your closet and ponder a long time over what to wear. You finally choose a light and comfy character T-shirt as it seems perfect for meeting a friend for a chat. You wear a T-shirt with Con embroidered, a small but strong friend. It feels just right. You have Muji chocolate bread for breakfast and scan a bus card with the image of Apeach.

You still have some time until you meet your friend, so you enter a cosmetics store on the way. You are greeted by cushion foundations and lipsticks that are the products of Kakao Friends collaboration. You realize that there are new products on display. Your lips seem to twinkle even with just a subtle touch of a lipstick sample.

Now, you sit at a donut shop waiting for your friend to come. As soon as you take a seat, the Kakao Friends characters on the menu catch your eyes. The Prodo hot chocolate and Neo donut combo for couples seem very interesting. Therefore you decide to try that combo menu with your friend. As a big fan of Kakao Friends, you cannot resist. Now, your heart is pounding with the expectation to see Frodo (hot chocolate) and Neo (donut) sitting side by side on your table. Once you finish eating the donuts, you decide to go to the Kakao Friends flagship store that opened just recently and browse their products while taking photos to upload on your SNS account.


* Photo Source : Kakao Friends Retail Team Promotion Part

* This article is published in webzine 'Hallyu Story', issue of August 2016, a specialized monthly webzine about cultural industry.

* Check Korean version of 'Hallyu Story'



  • name  : Minju Kwon
  • profile : Chief Editor of webzine 'Hallyu Story'