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Kakao Friends get creative in whimsical museum exhibit

Dec 23,2017
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From left: The first floor of the Kakao Friends Concept Museum in Hongdae in western Seoul has been created by Daelim Museum; A parody of “The Last Supper” by Jae Huh and Kim Seung-bae; a giant Frodo balloon by the Daelim Museum; Stained glass windows by Jae Huh and Kim So-min. [YOON SO-YEON]
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French pop artist Jean-Charles de Castel Bajac has created four pieces of art in collaboration with Naver’s Line Friends characters. [LINE FRIENDS]
Messaging app Kakao Talk’s Kakao Friends are a gang of eight unique characters - Ryan, Muzi, Apeach, Frodo, Neo, Tube, Jay-G and Con - each with different personalities and stories that help users express their emotions in a way that is often easier than words.

At the Kakao Friends Concept Museum in Hongdae, western Seoul, the cute characters have been transformed into works of art that decorate the museum’s second exhibition, “Musee de Kakao Friends.”

Open until May 27 in the basement level of the Hongdae Kakao Friends store, the exhibit has been created in cooperation with the Daelim Museum.

The mini museum has been styled to resemble an old French museum, where the exhibition begins in a garden filled with sculptures and foliage.

On the first floor of the exhibition, visitors will encounter an indoor garden, with sculptures hiding behind small windows and benches decorated with Kakao Friends dolls, as well as a chandelier that hangs from the ceiling made of electric Ryan lamps that are found in the Ryan Cafe on the top floor of the store.

The second floor is home to artworks made by five artists chosen by Daelim - Jae Huh, Park Jae-hyung, Kang Han-bin, Kim So-min and Kim Seung-bae - who have brought the friendly characters into the world of art by creating parody works that are easy for the visitors to understand. The convergence of the digital creations and analog art is fun for both the young people who use the characters every day and adults who may be more familiar with the original works from years before.

Also on the second floor are metal sculptures in the form of Arabic numbers, as well as plaster and bronze casts of each of the characters, followed by a quiet and dark room with four colorful stained-glass windows depicting the Kakao Friends characters.

Two gigantic works parodying “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo are in the next section of the exhibit. People in the original paintings have been replaced by the eight characters.

The final section features a gigantic balloon of Frodo the dog, with neon signs spelling out Korean slang words commonly used by young people, as well as a parody of work by the pop artist Keith Haring.

“We’re very familiar with the characters because we use them everyday when we chat with each other,” said Lee Sue of Kakao Friends. “We have brought them into a museum in a more classical setting, which we don’t usually see them in. It’ll be a good opportunity for people to see a different side of the characters.”

At the end of the exhibition, visitors can use crayons to color large coloring books sheets that have been posted to the walls of the museum. The gift shop carries some limited edition goods specially designed for the exhibition, such as special edition Ryan dolls.

Meanwhile, Naver’s Line Friends have also ventured into the art world, with their collaboration with pop artist, Jean-Charles de Castel Bajac.

The French artist has created four pieces of pop art using the characters, and those interested can visit a Seoul Auction’s Print Bakery location, either in Samcheong-dong or Hannam-dong, central Seoul.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]