Korean culture is famous for its “pali-pali,ˮ or “hurry-hurryˮ mentality. Furthermore, as mobile which makes user be able to enjoy culture contents easily is becoming more common, “snack cultureˮ is prevalent in Korea. The Hanyang Journal analyzed the culture and found the example of it. - Ed.
“The world is soon changing to ‘mobile only’ from ‘mobile first generation.’” This was a comment from Erich Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, when he gave an address and put an emphasis on mobile technology in a press conference titled “The Mobile First World.” In his speech, Schmidt referred to the future of accessing the Internet through mobile devices only, or in other words, “mobile only.” He expects that the trend of mobile dependency will be continuing.
Actually, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Science, Information and Communication Technology(ICT) and Future Planning, the number of smartphone users in Korea alone exceeds 40 million. In addition, a survey released on February 12 by the Korea Communications Commission showed that 76.9 percent of Koreans use smartphones. These figures are not surprising to Koreans as it is likely to see the sight of passengers in the subway or buses staring at their smartphones.
As the number of smartphone users increases, contents that are suitable to them and can be quickly accessed are constantly being developed. For example, there is the webtoon Sound of Mind with the stories about the author’s daily life. Because it is so convenient and easy to read, webtoons are popular in general and have been categorized under “snack culture.” In this trend, people believe a new value is being created.
The Culture Regardless of Time or Place
With the use of mobile technology dominating the contemporary world, a wide range of entertainment features is being enjoyed through mobile media. Furthermore, the expansion of mobile media has led to the aforementioned trend of snack culture, which refers to a fast-paced lifestyle or a tendency to enjoy the culture for a short time, just like enjoying snacks. This allows people to access pieces of culture whenever and wherever, which is appealing for those who are busy and find it difficult to take a break. The contents developed from snack culture usually pertain to streaming service, a technique which can transmit or embody data in real-time on the Internet. For example, on Facebook, the running time of some videos can be viewed to users even though they do not play the video. Since it does not require much time and energy and it is usually created for brief flashes of fun or interest, streaming service appeals to those who do not have much time to enjoy a cultural life or want to relieve their stress through snack culture.
Smartphones in particular, help busy people enjoy culture through Internet during their spare time. According to a survey conducted by The Hanyang Journal, half of the respondents involving 350 Hanyangians surveyed answered that they spend their extra time enjoying lifestyle contents on their smartphones. As more people immerse themselves in their smartphones, the consumption on lifestyle contents will likely continue to increase.
Snack culture is being expanded primarily through smartphones and the Internet through which massive amounts of information or contents can be collected and shared easily. Since most Koreans use smartphones, entertainment businesses have developed contents for the mobile market, for instance, in the form of webtoons, web dramas and web fiction books.
Cultural Contents Reflecting Snack Culture
The main form of snack culture is web media. It was developed from existing contents in comic books, dramas, and fiction books. Among the web media, webtoons were the first to emerge. With illegal scans of comic books, the decline of printed books has led to the gradual decrease of new comic books being printed. Also, there were a number of bloggers publishing serial comics such as Snowcat and Marineblues on their blogs. This led to the birth of webtoons.
These days most people are reading a webtoon series online or through a smartphone. Webtoons have pictures in small regular panels and dialog that appear in speech balloons like in comic books. Since webtoon contents are published once or twice a week, it takes a short time to enjoy webtoons so that people can enjoy them conveniently. For example, The towel of the God is a light and easy-to-digest webtoon that focuses on cartoonist SIU.
The success of webtoons has had an influence on web fiction books as well as web dramas. As fiction books are changed into web fiction books, both existing structures and pictures remain but are portrayed differently. Web dramas consist of video contents based on original webtoons or dramas usually around 15 minutes long. For instance, the web drama Aftereffect is made by a cartoonist Kim Seon-gwon’s original webtoon, where a boy develops five unique senses as an aftereffect of an accident.
A Place where Everyone Can Enjoy Cultural Variety
In today’s busy society, the popularity of snack culture such as webtoons, web dramas or web fiction books that are widely accessed through smartphones and the Internet is still increasing. Following this trend, there are now various ways snack culture can be made and developed by anyone. In fact, diverse experiments with snack culture have led to creative topics and contents that do not exist in mass culture. Vinovel is an example of such a platform for creating new media contents.
Vinovel is an online platform where webtoon contents can be easily created. Pictures and dialog can be edited and sound and video effects can be added to one’s webtoon base. Woo Hyeok- jun, a representative of Eightieslab, the company that owns Vinovel, said, “People can enjoy snack culture easily and the culture is widely accessed by the public through smartphones. Vinovel is a new platform where consumers can become content creators or producers of their own stories.”
Creating Pure Cultural Contents for Their Own Sake, Not for Money
The Korean Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism as well as the Korea Creative Content Agency regard snack culture as one of the “2015 ten-point trends in the contents industry.” They expect possibilities of snack culture to create some value.
Kim Hern-sik, a critic of popular culture, said, “Economically, snack culture is not very profitable. However, it is suited for experimenting with new trends, concepts and ideas that currently do not exist in mass culture.” Thus, snack culture will be a laboratory in which experiments with new contents are done.