SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — Thousands of young YouTube users attended Google’s Kids Festival over the weekend, signaling the growing popularity of YouTubers, who are becoming celebrities in their own right in South Korea.
The Kids Festival was held as part of Google’s YouTube FanFest Korea 2018 in Seoul on Saturday, featuring live performances and autograph sessions with famous YouTubers including baking channel Ari Kitchen and Let’s Play YURA, a channel dedicated to toy reviews.
Fans of Ari Kitchen formed a long line to get an autograph and take pictures with the YouTuber, with many as excited as they would be for meeting a famous celebrity.
Lee Ji-soo, a 14-year-old girl, says she feels closer to YouTubers than celebrities.
“Creators are friendly enough to reply to comments left by fans and even give advice so I feel closer to them than celebrities. I watch TV too but I like creators more,” Lee said with laughter.
Kwon Bit-na, a mother of two sons, is experiencing the cultural shift among children, from the small screen to streaming services.
“We came early in the morning as my children wanted to see their favorite YouTubers in person. Most IPTV services come with video streaming including YouTube, and my children seem to spend more time watching online videos than TV,” Kwon said.
Despite the tickets being priced between 12,000 and 15,000 won, over 4,000 attendees visited YouTube’s very first children-friendly content-oriented festival in the world, as content for kids has become one of the most watched genres on YouTube alongside gaming and beauty.
“Since South Korea has many internationally known children’s characters such as Pororo and Tayo, and a great environment for local creators compared to other countries, we decided to launch the very first kids-oriented festival,” a Google Korea official said.
Online videos for kids have been rapidly replacing the role of children’s television shows, as TV networks have cut funding for programs aimed at young viewers.
Ranging from baking tips and scientific experiments to raising insects, the streaming industry has risen in popularity among children thanks to a wide range of content and the use of social media, which allows YouTubers and fans to communicate with each other.