I wrote last year about how LINE Friends Cafes are opening up around China, based on the characters in the branded stickers of the Japanese chat app LINE.
In Korea, Kakao is the leading chat app, with, Kakao’s investor relations team claims, 41 million domestic active users (in a country of 50 million). Apparently it noticed the profitability trend of characters, too. Kakao opened its second store in Hongdae in November 2016. Its first store, in Gangnam, attracted 450,000 visitors in one of its first months. With the opening of the Gangnam store, revenue from Kakao Friends merchandise more than doubled versus the previous quarter. Now there are eight stores in Seoul.
Why do chat app character stores have so much success in Asia? Probably because there is a kawaii (or kiyomi in Korea) culture in Asia that is attracted towards cuteness. Chat characters and smileys are also a big part of chatting. In fact, emojis were initially developed in Japan, as the word “emoji” and the large amount of Japan-specific international emojis is testament to.
The mobile companies Line Corp, Kakao, and TenCent (WeChat) all focus on cross platform branding and sales channels. Besides its chat app, Kakao has taxi-hailing and ride-hailing apps, apps for shopping, video sharing, payment, games, Kakao Story, Kakao Music, and more. Unified use of the characters across platforms (Kakao Games feature the Kakao Friends) helps promote each platform. LINE even did a web series about their LINE Friends.
On November 6, Cantonese opera actress Li Chixiang shared her expertise and experiences with the Yuanzhou Town Folk Art Association (园洲镇曲艺协会). Singing, dancing, doing magic and recalling stories, she was able to draw laughter and applause from the audience of a few dozen locals intent on preserving China’s traditional art forms.
“China has 5,000 years of history. We should pass it on,” said Zhu Runhong, a member of the folk are association.
Li spoke for an hour, talking about how she once ran away from her home in the suburbs of Guangzhou to try to study Cantonese opera and later was enrolled in the Guangdong Cantonese Opera Academy. Showing off her wide range of talents, she did a trick to turn blank papers into 100 RMB bills and danced with a multicolored fabric. It was like a “talk show,” she said. Every Friday she hosts a Cantonese opera show on Guangzhou TV, and the TV network sent its reporters to cover it.
“In an average month, we perform about five times like this,” Li said. “But in the rainy season, we might not perform once in a month, and during Spring Festival, we could perform every day, sometimes even twice a day.”
After her act, the members of the Yuanzhou Town Folk Art Association’s Cantonese opera troupe took the stage to perform scenes from the opera Dinv Hua (帝女花). The group holds meetings and practices three times a week and competes with other local arts groups in local and regional competitions. Located in Shangnan city, about 2 hours from Guangzhou by car, Yuanzhou is one of many Guangdong villages to tout its rich Cantonese opera tradition. In 2012, the Shangnan Folk Art Society, featuring some members of the Yuanzhou group, won silver at a provincial Cantonese opera invitational.
The media in Yuanzhou even tries to use new technologies to preserve its traditional arts. One local entreprenuer founded Yuanzhou Online (http://www.yz0752.com/) in 2006, a forum which includes news and events in BBS format, and launched a Boluo county app this year, upon which he live streamed Li’s talk and the opera performance to up to 1,500 viewers.
A UFO in the Shanghai sky? An obscure Chinese website reported that some people were shocked when they saw flashing lights way up high at night (Chinese text). When reporters went to People’s Square, they found a man reeling in a kite with flashing LED lights.
China has UFO obsessives, too, and Wo Ai Jie Mi (“I Love Solving Mysteries”) has article after article about LED light kites. It’s the easiest thing to find.
Look up at the night sky in an X-million people city in China, and you won’t see any stars. They’ve been disappeared behind light pollution. But Chinese people have beautified the night sky with their own kind of light pollution: LED light kites.
Other foreigners have been fooled before when they’ve seen it:
UFO in Shanghai
I saw this a few weeks back when I was blasted in a taxi. Woke up thinking I made it up, then saw this video on YouTube and it’s exactly the same thing I saw. Did anyone else see this shit?
Every night outside my home, close by the bank of the Yangtze River, bright reds, pinks, greens, and blues shine down from the sky. These kitesContinue reading
Over Dragon Boat Festival, I visited Beijing and met an artist who paints with his hair. Some long papers were hanging down from an abandoned railway car that was covered with graffiti. On the paper were black swatches, dots, and thin streaming lines. A long-haired man was sitting down near the set up, and I asked him if it was his. “Yes,” he responded. His artist name was Namu (“big tree” in Korean), and he had been in China for 2 years.
Here are some photos of his art exhibition:
The box cars are nearby the south entrance of 798:
798 Art Zone originated out of an abandoned factory area that was opened in the 1950’s. From 1957 until Deng Xiaoping’s market-oriented economic reforms resulted in it being shut down, it produced military and civilian products. At its peak, 20,000 or so people worked there. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, avant-garde artists began moving there and using the old facilities. One of the artists who has had a connection with 798 is political artist Ai Wei Wei. By now there are also many shops and restaurants, as it is a popular tourist destination, but serious art exhibitions, most of them free to view, remain.
Besides galleries and exhibitions, the graffiti painted around the area is also very beautiful.
Zumiao Temple is located in the heart of Foshan, a suburb of Guangzhou that was home to kung fu legends Ip Man, Bruce Lee’s master, and Huang Feihong. Just five minutes north from Zumiao Station (on Zumiao Lu), Zumiao Temple includes small museums about the two warriors and impressive works of huisu sculpture. In the afternoons it often hosts kung fu performances, lion dances, and Cantonese opera.
Edward Snowden is still in Russia looking for asylum after leaking classified NSA documents. He first went to Hong Kong where he revealed that the United States is hacking into Chinese internet. There, he received support from some Hong Kongese activists in the form of signs proclaiming “Save Snowden, Save Freedom”.
When I was in Hong Kong recently, I took some photos exploring various aspects of the Edward Snowden situation, which I have put up for sale at Deposit Photos for editorial use. These photos are great for accompanying news stories, as some media outlets have already found out.
Shanghai is one of the world’s largest cities, with over 20 million people, and as such, it has some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. In fact, by the time the Shanghai Tower is finished, Shanghai will be home to the #2 (Shanghai Tower), #6 (Shanghai World Financial Center), and #16 (Jin Mao Tower) skyscrapers in the world.
If you are writing an article about Shanghai or about skyscrapers, one of these photos might come in handy.
The Fourth of July is coming up, and Americans celebrate with patriotic images such as American flags. But American flags can be more than just the official flag. You can use variations or modified American Flags to express different messages. I have created an American peace flag, American baseball flag, and American world flag to express different messages, and you can use them with your designs. They are available as American flag stock photos.
The Tea Party movement is a popular conservative American political movement that has risen since 2009 to oppose Barack Obama and his policies such as the Obamacare healthcare plan, stimulus, and increased spending on government spending programs. It is an important force in American politics, having helped the Republican Party win control of the House of Representatives in 2010 and stoked opposition to Obamacare with demonstrations and protests.
Recently, the Tea Party has been in the news because an inspector general’s report found that the IRS applied undue scrutiny to Tea Party tax exempt organization applications. Since then, some Tea Party members have testified on Capitol Hill, and the Tea Party has been rallying against the IRS. With this big news story, you might need Tea Party photos if you are writing an article about the Tea Party. Consider using one of these photos, which can be purchased online for editorial use. They represent various aspects of the Tea Party, including the Tea Party’s fight against alleged IRS tyranny.