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[Weekender] Augmented reality shines only with right storytelling

Following the “Pokemon Go” craze, the Korean government and companies are looking to pour money into advancing the local augmented reality sector.

This is not the first time for Korea to push for AR.

In 2012, talent agency S.M. Entertainment produced a program that allowed fans to dance with holograms of K-pop idol group EXO-K. Telecommunications giant KT also launched a mobile game called “Catch Catch,” which was a nearly identical precursor to “Pokemon Go.”


 
Circus Company CEO Park Sun-uk demonstrates AR technology with an envelope. The Korea Herald/Song Ji-won
Circus Company CEO Park Sun-uk demonstrates AR technology with an envelope. The Korea Herald/Song Ji-won


However, both failed to make much of an impression in the local market.

“The success of ‘Pokemon Go’ comes from the relationship built between the content and the public for more than two decades (through stories),” said Park Sun-uk, the CEO of local AR start-up Circus Company, in an interview.

“The game targets people in their 20s and 30s who grew up watching the animated show, and are familiar with the characters and the idea of becoming Pokemon masters.”

Since 2011, Circus Company has worked with a wide range of clients from government agencies and conglomerates to education institutions.

The start-up’s mobile application “Circus AR” scans its clients’ content and makes them appear on the screen in videos, advertisements or flash cards.

Circus became well known in the AR circle for bringing King Sejong’s face to life onscreen after scanning a 10,000-won bill.

“People just want something simple, familiar and fun,” Park said.

“Pokemon Go” helped increased demand for Circus Company’s AR services, he added.

But Park said that many potential clients in Korea overlook the fact that it takes a lot of time and money to create killer content.

“Google invested 30 billion won ($26.7 million) in Niantic over three years to create ‘Pokemon Go,’” said Park.

“People generally ask to see profits of 1 billion won within two months. What they must understand is that that it takes a considerable amount of time and money to develop a well-made product, and most of that goes into creating content or stories. Without investment, nothing made in Korea will be more than a mere imitation of ‘Pokemon Go.’”

By Song Ji-won/The Korea Herald (jiwon.song@heraldcorp.com)
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