Pop culture convention ready for a second go-round
Story By: Emma Kalka
Photos By: Comic Con Seoul, Robert Michael Evans
Fans of all things pop culture in Korea can rejoice – Comic Con Seoul is returning for its second year after a successful first run in 2017.
Armed with feedback from last year’s attendees – and a unique method of interacting with said fans – the organizers have promised to continue improving with each iteration. And this year is sure to not disappoint with a new round of Hollywood guests, panel guests, and a larger Marvel presence after the studio’s successful year at the box office.
While Comic Con Seoul still isn’t quite the size of its global predecessors, organizers have said that its debut last year proved to be the most successful debut of an international Comic Con thus far. And with that in mind, they have worked tirelessly since then to improve and continue the momentum forward – starting with its unique approach to getting in touch with fans so they can better provide what attendees are looking for.
Comic Con Creators Group
The motto among all Comic Cons around the world is to put “fans first” and utilize their input to make each event better. In order to implement this, Reed Exhibitions in Seoul started the Comic Con Creators (CCC) group – a regular gathering of influencers from various backgrounds in Korea that provides input on how to make Comic Con Seoul bigger and better.
The practice started with the first convention last year and organizers said they searched for influential individuals through the internet who dealt with similar themes or content related to Comic Con and who had a certain number of followers or subscribers.
Then, through these meetings, the organizers were able to gather input directly from the fans.
“After we had set up core members, they subsequently recommended representatives to us, and we revised and gradually set up the members for 2018. Members might change and be updated, but still we believe that these core members will always help us,” the organizers said.
Korea was the first country to use this type of approach in getting fan feedback and it has worked so well that Global ReedPOP has started promoting it as best practice should other countries want to adopt it for their own Comic Cons.
“We truly believe that Comic Con Creators is a productive and effective way to communicate with fans, and so are hoping that more local teams adopt and develop this accordingly,” the organizers added. Even ReedPOP Global Event Director Mary Franklin said at a recent group meeting that Seoul Comic Con was the most successful launch of a global Comic Con event, meaning the organizers must be doing something right.
One addition to this year’s group was two foreign influencers who hope to help make Comic Con Seoul more accessible to the foreign community. Johnny Yoon said he loved Comic Con Seoul 2017 and agreed to take part in Comic Con Creators because he had heard some grumblings from the expat crowd about things they weren’t happy with. He hopes that his involvement will help clear up some of the confusion.
He said that he has enjoyed his time with CCC and feels as though they really do want and appreciate the feedback from the expat and foreign community. At the meetings, rather than lumping all the foreigners together, they split them up into different groups with Koreans – with other companies they put all the foreigners together almost as though they want to include but exclude them at the same time.
“But that is not the feeling at all with CCC. They give us the feeling that they really want to hear what we have to say,” Yoon said.
For Mike Coleman, he got involved with CCC by offering to help with communicating with English speakers, something he noticed Comic Con Seoul needed at its debut event. He continued that he felt he had something to offer as well as loving Comic Con and falling in love with the culture after attending Comic Con San Diego.
“My experience has been positive overall so far. I’m very happy the head team listens to all the members and takes their opinions into consideration. I feel like a valuable member of the team,” Coleman said.
Overall, everyone involved feels that CCC helps to make Comic Con Seoul better and to connect organizers directly with the fans.
“Comic Con Creators always share with us the latest news or direct feedback from fans because they are YouTubers, bloggers and Facebookers who always engage with fans and create various content based on the fans’ feedback and jokes,” the organizers said. “We always believe that CCC members share with us very direct, sometimes negative, yet truly helpful feedback.”
Yoon said that all the members come from different backgrounds yet have similar interests, thus they are able to see things that others might not. Not to mention, they all post on social media, which can help spread the word about Comic Con Seoul; each targets a group that Comic Con Seoul organizers might not have been able to reach if they didn’t have the team.
This year, there will also be people able to help with translation on site. Personally, Yoon said he’s most looking forward to seeing the Hollywood guests and cosplayers, as well as a few things that he can’t mention at the moment.
“This year, we really want to try and include the visitors more than last year. So, be sure to look for us on the floor and don’t be shy to say hello,” he said.
Coleman said he’s looking forward to seeing how much growth Comic Con Seoul has experienced compared to last year, among other things.
“I’m looking forward to interacting with fans and seeing the work we put into the show pay off,” he said.
Comic Con Seoul 2018
So with all this feedback, just what can fans expect at this year’s event?
“Comic Con Seoul 2018 will be more entertaining and professional than last year. More than 100 exhibitors from many pop culture industries such as films, media, comics, animation and games will participate,” the organizers said, adding that, compared to last year, there will also be a larger Artists Alley.
In addition, there are two new Hollywood guests who are coming to Seoul for the first time, as well as a Marvel comic writer and international cosplay guest (but more on that later).
Listening to cosplayers from last year, Comic Con Seoul 2018 will have bigger and better quality changing areas. They also were told by fans who intend to dress up that there needed to be stock rooms and cosplayer photo zones – two things they are working to try and implement this year.
Organizers said that they’ve done their best to listen to fans about last year’s event and have worked hard to include as many of these changes as they can.
“Thanks to our fans’ feedback from last year on nearly every aspect of our show, we’ve tried to incorporate their opinions as much as possible. We have started to interact actively and promptly with fans via social channels,” the organizers said. “We are doing our best to make quick decisions and share such information with our fans at an appropriate time.”
One such decision was to add photo and autograph ops in addition to the event’s Star Pass. The Star Pass offers more VIP benefits; however, one common complaint from last year – especially from foreign visitors – was that it was only available online and there wasn’t nearly enough promotion or explanation. Not only that, some attendees only wanted the opportunity to meet with the Hollywood guests and couldn’t afford the hefty 300,000 won price tag.
So this year, in addition to purchasing a one-, two- or three-day pass, Photo and Auto Op passes are available both online and on-site. For an additional 50,000-99,000 won (depending on the pass and whether it is purchased online or on-site), guests can take a photo with or get an autograph from one of the two Hollywood guests.
New attractions include a larger Marvel Zone to celebrate Marvel Studio’s 10-year anniversary, which includes the Marvel History Wall. In addition, a number of leading companies will take part, such as Sigongsa (the official Korean publisher of Marvel and DC), Warner Brothers Korea; and CGV Cineshop, the first film-related goods store in Korea that sells various items from Disney, Pixar, and Marvel.
Other companies include Tongbang Books, the importer of Marvel and DC comics, art and various other anime collections, Walcom, the manufacturer of creative tablets to draw cartoons, Aniplus, which sells various top and figures from Aniplex+, Seoul Media Comics, the No. 1 cartoon publisher in Korea, and ShinHan Art, a major arts supply company.
NGEL Games will also launch its newest game at Comic Con Seoul 2018.
Special additions to the Artist Alley are the special project “Today’s All That Hero” – a project with various content created by Lee Sohyang, the creative director and CEO of OM.art – as well as work by world famous artist Sung Taejin that exhibits contemporary life though popular characters such as Gundam and Superman.
Let’s face it, the one thing everyone is looking forward to at Comic Con Seoul is, of course, the guests.
Coming in this year from Hollywood are Ezra Miller and Michael Rooker, representing both DC and Marvel (though I’m sure Harry Potter fans are also delighted with Miller’s inclusion).
The Hollywood guests were chosen based on a survey that Comic Con Seoul organizers did last year. Miller was voted first and Rooker also placed highly.
“Both of them are coming to Korea for their first time and we are very glad to be with them and anticipate that our fans will feel the same and welcome them to Korea,” the organizers said. “We hope they have a great time at Comic Con Seoul 2018.”
Miller is most recently known for playing Barry Allen/The Flash in the DC Universe’s film Justice League as well as reprising his role as Credence Barebone in the second Fantastic Beasts film The Crimes of Grindewald – set to be released on Nov. 16.
Rooker played Yondu Udonta in the Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – both Vol. 1 and 2.
Both will be at Comic Con Seoul for all three days and host public panels as well as VIP panels for Star Pass holders. They will also be available for photo and autograph ops for those who purchase those passes.
Beyond the Hollywood guests, American film director and comic book writer Greg Pak will be making an appearance. Pak is known for writing X-treme X-Men as well as several titles featuring the Hulk. He also is currently writing Weapon X with Greg Land. For DC Comics, he wrote Batman/Superman #1-27 with Jae Lee and others, Action Comics #23.2, 25-50 with Aaron Kuder, and Teen Titans 17-19 with Ian Churchill.
This year’s cosplay guest is Russian cosplayer Gesha, who has been a guest at several international conventions as well as cosplaying for years. Other panel guests include Kim Jung-gi, Livio Ramondelli, and Peter Nguyen.