What is the Jewelry Festival?! When I heard a friend of mine say he was going to DIA Festival 2018 with Nolggot, I literally had no idea what he was talking about. Putting on an awkward smile, he explained it to me. "It’s the festival of solo media creators who are DIA TV partners." Oh, it’s a place where I can meet people who broadcast on YouTube, for example, Daedoseogwan and Hey Jini! Then what in the world is DIA TV? So embarrassed to ask any more questions, I took the time to find out what it was. What? MCN? Questions popped up one after another! I did not know anything about MCN. I was curious, but I couldn’t contain my frustration at the same time. I can’t help it, I must see it with my own eyes!
▲The entrance to Seoul Gocheok Skydome, the venue of DIA Festival 2018 with Nolggot
- A city of shining stars
DIA Festival 2018 with Nolggot was held on August 18 and 19. I arrived here on Saturday, the first day. Arriving at the Seoul Gocheok Skydome 10 minutes before admission, there was an endless line of people waiting to be admitted. Men and women of all ages from three-year-olds to adults in their 50s, including children holding the hands of their moms and dads, a group of loud teenage boys, and girls showing off their makeup skills, all could be found here! Most of them were teenage students.
▲Finally, people began to enter the venue! People were pouring one by one into the massive Gocheok Skydome.
▲Well, which of the four stages should I go to first?! You absolutely must check who will show up when and where!
I received the pamphlet with the timetable and went in! It was my first time to set foot on the grounds of a baseball park. As it is quite spacious, the four stages are located with some space between them. It’s easy to find the stages as the four stages, composed of Game, Beauty, Entertainment & Music and Kids & Food, have different colors. In the plaza at the center, there is an information booth, and you can also find the High Five Zone and the PR booths of participating companies between stages.
▲The statue winked at me! Behind him, I can see the purple game stage and the pink beauty stage.
▲To meet entertainment and music creators, look for the bluish-green DIA Stage!
I could hear the sounds and shouts induced by the creators here and there on the stage. As performances are given on the four stages at the same time, it’s hard to decide what to watch! I headed to the Beauty Stage first, as I was most interested in that. Beauty creator Sinnim could be seen answering the questions from fans in their 20s. As I just saw her on a TV show, I was amazed to see the real creator before my own eyes. While watching the performance, I heard a song coming from the next stage. The sound was filling up the huge space. This is truly a festival!
▲Why is my name Sinnim? As I liked the name of an animation character ‘Sinichi,’ I added ‘Nim’ to the end of 'Ssin'!
Every hour, new performances were coming up on stage. Out of curiosity, I found myself busy moving from one stage to another. As time went on, the number of people increased. A certain stage was so popular that it was jam-packed with people. As so people were standing at the entrance to the stage, it was often difficult to get inside. They stood on the tips of their toes and craned their necks to see the creators on the stage in person, not merely on the large screen. They could hardly see the creators, but no one complained. They hung onto every word uttered by the creator, and jeered or cheered in unison depending on what the characters did in the game. People went wild about the creators and their contents. What was really going on here?!
▲Fans come together in body and soul while watching creators Daedoseogwan and Yum-cast, a couple, playing the game!
- Fans going wild about solo media creators
Everyone had fans out there. If I had to pick the ones I like, I could easily count them on my ten fingers in a second. I consider myself to be a true fan of many. Mostly, I am a fan of celebrities on TV. TV tends to be the media format I am exposed to the most. Celebrities and their various TV shows, they were a driving force in my daily life, and a channel for communicating with my peers.
But this is a new world here! Watching the game creator playing the soccer game, people went crazy as if they were watching World Cup games. ‘They are not really playing the game themselves. I wondered what the big deal was about?' So I asked a teenage boy next to me. He replied "It’s just fun!" This was not enough for me. I asked inquisitively, and my curiosity was quenched to a certain extent.
"I watch solo broadcasting on YouTube every day. I subscribe to the channel of a creator I like, and whenever a new video is uploaded, I never miss it! Broadcasting quality is good, and the creators are so candid and upbeat as well!"
▲When popular creators 'Heopop' and 'Tester Hoon' wanted fans to play the game together, people raised their hands here and there!
To get a better sense of it all, I asked another boy. "Do you like them better than celebrities?" Wondering what I am asking this question for, he replied, "Of course!" To them, the creators on the stage are celebrities. Many students said they watch one-person media at least 1-2 hours before going to sleep! The creators of solo broadcasting they watch as much as TV exude a certain friendliness. Furthermore, unlike celebrities, they can communicate with them in real time. So they tend to feel more approachable and relatable according to fans.
What’s more amazing was what was going on in front of the Kids Creator’s stage. The children, watching the stage of 'Hey Jini' and 'Lucky.Kang_i' with sparkling eyes, and their parents had their faces lit up in smiles at all times. Even older kids who are known to not be so easy to please appeared to be in bliss! I couldn’t believe it! The creators had the power to disarm adolescent teenagers and children who want to do everything their way.
▲A 9-year-old girl finally meets Kids creators Hey Jini and Lucky.Kang_i in the High Five Zone.
▲Daedoseogwan takes time to sign his name for an adoring fan
In the High Five Zone in one corner of the festival venue, fans could meet creators in person, do high five, get their autographs and have pictures taken with them. As it was held on a first-come first-served basis, the line was extremely long! People who were not able to wait in line could had to resign themselves to watching from a distance.
People who met the creators felt something lacking. A 9-year-old girl who just met Hey Jini had an expression of both joy and sadness for the short encounter on her face. "What was it like seeing Hey Jini in person?" "……Great." Seeing the shy girl, I could feel the pure heart of a child liking someone. Her mom added, "She goes crazy for her at home. When she meets the creator in person, she becomes very shy." She says the first new media format that children encounter for the first time in their lives is YouTube. Children learn and engage with creators. It’s no wonder that they like them so much.
▲People who were not selected for high five are waiting at a distance just in case they can get one more chance.
- Creators constantly communicating with fans
I discovered a familiar face on one stage. I noticed a creator that even I, ignorant of solo media, already subscribed to! It was a beauty creator known as Director Pi who recommends good cosmetics. I suffered from sensitive skin for a long time. To me, her contents were like a ray of sunshine! She provided lots of very good tips on skin troubles that I could not get anywhere else. Whenever I saw the effort and passion in her contents, I felt grateful. I am now seeing the creator broadcast right in front of me! The place, which felt unfamiliar at first, began to take on new meaning for me.
"The heroes of the festival are not the creators, but the fans!"
The stages of other creators were the same. Watching them communicate efficiently with fans, I could see their efforts and passion. The creators continuously study and make efforts to make better contents, but they listen to the feedback from fans too!
Daedoseogwan, called ‘Yoo Jae-seok in the world of creators,’ has over 1,830,000 YouTube subscribers. What a 23-year-old female fan said when she got his autograph made me realize why Daedoseogwan is so popular.
"His YouTube channel is full of fun, and I could not but be fascinated by him. He cherishes and respects his fans so much! I can’t tell how much I am happy that I met him in person!”
▲Beauty creators Director Pi and Liah Yoo are posing with their fans for a picture on the stage.
“When I broadcast, I shoot alone in the room. I communicate with fans through comments in real time, but I am happy that I can see them in person and talk with them today. I will fully cherish the facial expressions of my fans!”
Not only fans, but also creators find the whole experience amazing. 'Picky Sunny (Ipjjalbeun Haetnim),' started solo broadcasting at the recommendation of her friend. When I asked her if Mukbang is not difficult, she said, "I eat whatever I feel like at the time." Is she really a picky eater?!
▲Picky Sunny says hello to fans and gives out autographs.
▲At the PR booth of a company that launched a solo media package product, beauty creator KIMDAX is posing for a picture!
- Korea’s first and largest MCN festival
▲Meeting the game creator Usona in person! Guerilla fan meetings were held throughout the festival venue.
My legs were getting weary after running about all day in the baseball park. There was a parade formation with fans standing in two lines. The highlight of this festival, the parade of creators, was about to begin! It was almost like the parades you can see in amusement parks during the Christmas season. Excited fans were waiting while holding their smartphones above their head to take pictures. At last, the creators appeared one by one while the brass band was playing! They greeted fans with a nod, making a grand finale.
▲The festival finale! The creators greeted the fans while parading amongst them.
DIA Festival 2018 with Nolggot was held a third time following last year and the year before that. At this festival, which was held under the slogan of 'Right Now, the City of Shining Stars,' I hear that 43,000 people visited during two days. Considering that the stands of Gocheok have 16,000 or so seats, it’s an amazing figure! An elementary school student, who continuously participated with her mom, said this festival was truly colorful and enjoyable. As the popularity of the creators and their contents grows day after day, the DIA Festival is establishing itself as the largest MCN festival in Korea. As a result, I am into MCN too! It was my first time, but I will be better prepared for it next time!