If Hongdae is’Akihabara’, then AK& is’Radio Hall’ for subculture enthusiasts.

AK & Hongdae branch, enthusiast shops gather on the 5th floor…Expert “Now subculture is not a lower order to companies, but a liquor business”

The appearance of the’Radio Hall’, a sacred place for subcultures, located near Akihabara Station. [사진=뉴스퀘스트]

【News Quest = Reporter Kim Bo-min】 These days, there are places that domestic subculture enthusiasts often visit. It is a shopping mall operated by AK Plaza in Aekyung,’AK&’ Hongdae.

This place reminds me of the’Radio Kaikan’, which has a long history of subculture in the center of Akihabara, a famous spot in Tokyo, Japan.

Built in 1962, the 10-story radio hall is where subculture enthusiasts from all over the world gather.

Enthusiasts can easily check and purchase various miscellaneous goods such as anime and manga (Japanese manga), plastic models and figures related to special shootings in one place.

AK& is quenching the thirst of domestic enthusiasts who cannot find Japan after the outbreak of Corona 19.

It appears that Aekyung is pursuing a differentiated strategy by absorbing related business sites scattered in Hongdae after successively entering subculture stores on one floor.

Experts said that as awareness of subculture has gradually improved, not only Aekyung but also domestic companies are focusing on related businesses. It is an analysis that it is transforming into a mainstream culture that is no longer inferior.

‘AK & Hongdae Branch’ of AK Plaza located across from Yeontral Park in Hongik University Station. [사진=뉴스퀘스트]

◇ Subculture Mania, AK & 5th Floor

Subculture refers not to popular culture, but to a culture that has been regarded as’children’s exclusive property’ such as animations, figures, and cartoons. Lit. in Korean, it is a subculture.

In the meantime, those who like subculture culture have had to wander all over the country. There were not many related stores in Korea.

AK&Hongdae branch solved these enthusiasts’ concerns. It is a collection of various stores related to subculture as well as existing business sites such as restaurants on the 5th floor of the shopping center.

An official at AK Plaza said, “We considered the outbreak of Corona 19 as a’point of change,’ and understood the consumer demand to run the AK & Hongdae branch.” “As I was thinking about what was needed from the existing one, the theme of subculture came to mind.”

Hongdae is a representative area that emerges as a place of individuality in which’indie culture’ (subculture that is not popular) is gathered in Korea. The strategy aimed at these regional characteristics seems to have led to the response of enthusiasts.

On the 5th floor of Hongdae AK&, subculture stores such as Refun Shop, Jeil Lottery Shop, Play One Piece, and Morfen Cafe have appeared since last year.

Mofun Cafe is operated by’Mofun’, a subculture content brand, and currently attracts customers who like the mania genre.

In this regard, an AK official explained, “At first, there was a concern that it would work, but the reaction was okay.” “According to store managers, related sales such as merchandise sales are also increasing.”

In addition, the Donggyo-dong Buksaetongmungo, which was almost closed due to the recent book price system, is also scheduled to be relocated here this year.

Since its opening in 2004, the Buksae Tong Book Center has been called a holy place for cartoon fans for 17 years. According to Buksaetong, AK& had a high value for the bookstore and suggested the relocation with conditions that would reduce the rent burden relatively.

In addition to subculture, AK& is consolidating various factors such as fashion, beauty, and restaurants by floor to secure a diverse customer base.

It regularly plans media and cultural performances to attract not only specific groups, but also couples and young customers.

The appearance of the Cheil Lottery shop and Play One Piece store in Hongdae AK&. [사진=뉴스퀘스트]

◇ The right reason to choose AK&… Subculture has become a’mainstream culture’ rather than a niche market

Meanwhile, experts cited’change of perception’ as the reason why domestic companies such as Aekyung are targeting the subculture demand group.

Professor Park Hyung-jin of the Department of Visual Animation at Keimyung University said, “Webtoons, web novels, animations, and game contents, which had become a subculture that only a few people enjoyed a while ago, are now in the spotlight as global mainstream items.” The expandability is endless because it can be combined with various types of platforms such as games.”

Experts cited Disney and StarCraft as the biggest catalysts for companies to consider subculture as their main business strategy.

These two factors change the perception of subculture from’what children like’ to’a culture that can be enjoyed by all men and women’.

Professor Park Hyung-jin explained, “As Disney made high-quality animation films such as The Little Mermaid, and StarCraft games fostered the PC room culture, the perception of subcultures changed.”

In fact, not only AK, but also some domestic companies are planning subculture as their business strategy.

Earlier, the multiplex film company Megabox has been targeting a special audience with animation screenings since several years ago.

The domestic subculture business also reached a box office. For example, Naver and Kakao are diversifying web-based businesses to realize the’second Disney’.

Recently, Naver acquired the world’s largest web novel platform’Whatpad’, and Kakao is also pushing for the acquisition of the global web novel platform’Radish’ through Kakao Entertainment, which merges Kakao Page and Kakao M.

Professor Park Hyung-jin said, “It’s similar to the way the Walt Disney Company has built a global intellectual property (IP)-based media ecosystem such as Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th century studios through various mergers and acquisitions (M&A).”

Accordingly, there is a growing voice among related industries and enthusiasts that there is a need to redefine the word’subculture’.

It is pointed out that the term’subordinate’ is not correct as the number of consumers who show the outside rather than hiding their related tastes is increasing.

Donggyo-dong Buksaetongmungo decided to relocate to Hongdae AK& after faced with a business closure crisis. [사진=뉴스퀘스트]

On the other hand, subculture consumers predicted that as the interest of domestic companies increased, their perception of subculture would change rapidly.

Ahn Yu-jin, 28, a figure collector who met at AK&, said, “Here, we can express similar hobbies and tastes without hesitation. I hope more people will know that subculture is no longer a mainstream rather than a non-mainstream here.” .

Kim Hyo-young (22), who frequently visits AK&’s first lottery shops, said, “These days, applications (apps) that boast their collections are also increasing.” I’m happy” he said.

On the other hand, the Buksae Tongbook, which announced the relocation, will be officially opened on May 2 after going through a temporary opening period in late April. Animate, whose location has been decided, will be officially opened in May on the same floor.

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