Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung gave a simple introduction of himself and said he was able to come to HIT Entertainment thanks to Department Head Jo Anna, who was now the Department Head of the Planning and Operations Team.
‘Did Department Head Jo Anna scout him?’
Do Wook thought to himself, but focused on the content of today’s meeting for now.
Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung introduced the project, saying it was his first project with HIT Entertainment so he’d like a lot of help.
The project Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung was trying to start was a KK merchandise business.
Currently KK, like other singers, had basic goods prepared for sale each time an album was released.
The type of goods that were included in the fanclub kit and the cheering stick designs all based on Do Wook’s ideas were produced in an unusual way, but it didn’t feel like it was full-fledged.
Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung, who had inherited the idea that Department Head Jo Anna had planned, was looking to increase profits by selling merchandise in earnest.
“So, starting with this concert, we’re planning on starting a large-scale merchandise business.”
The members nodded their heads as they listened to Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung’s explanation.
“First of all, we’ll still sell the small goods that we’ve already been selling, like photocards, notepads, or hand fans, but…we’re thinking of turning the members into characters.”
Ahn Hyung Seo, who enjoyed cartoons, reacted to the word character.
“Yes. We’ll turn the members into characters while highlighting their individualities. I think we could commercialize it in a little more diverse way if we turn those characters into merchandise, starting with dolls.
The members nodded their heads. Honestly, if the goods did well it would be as good for the members as it would be for the company.
Compared to things like music files, broadcasts, and festivals, the money the members personally received from album sales or merchandise was significantly better. This was even more so when it came to personal merchandise that had their name or face plastered on it.
“What style will the characters be in?”
Do Wook, who had been listening quietly, asked.
“For now we’re thinking of something simple like a cartoon or an animal character.”
Actually, Ara Entertainment had already tried a character project with Sa Bang Shin Hwa previously.
However, compared to Sa Bang Shin Hwa’s fame, it ended up not being a very profitable business. It might have been different if it were a picture of the actual Sa Bang Shin Hwa, but the Sa Bang Shin Hwa-based characters didn’t appeal much to the fans.
It was also a big issue that the characters had a negative vibe and not a positive vibe.
It was a memory he had from his time at Q Entertainment, where he studied it as one of the failed cases. He was sure Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung, who was a part of Ara Entertainment, was aware of that problem.
Do Wook’s gaze became a little sharp.
“I think the art style will be important.”
Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung nodded his head.
“As it happens, there was a time at my last company where the character business failed. At that time, the feedback we received the most was ‘it’s not pretty’. That’s why this time, we plan on making it as cute as possible so it will appeal to the fans, who are the main target audience.”
“Oh, then I think animals would be good!”
Ahn Hyung Seo yelled in response to what Lee Dae Hyung Team Leader said.
“There are a lot of fans these days who say they want to do OrCo, so I think if we turned it into animals and made it not too noticeable…”
Jung Yoon Ki asked further,
“OrCo? What is OrCo?”
“Ordinary cosplay…like pretending not to be a fan,”
Suk Ji Hoon, who had been sitting next to him, calmly explained.
Lee Dae Hyung gave a thumbs up to Ahn Hyung Seo’s suggestion.
“As expected, the members know the fans well. I also thought that going with animal characters would be good. Assistant Manager Ra Hee, you have the list of people who were picked to work on the project together, right?”
“Yes, we picked about three people and organized the data along with images.”
“Please take a look and choose which style you guys think will be good. We’d like your opinions too. It’d also be helpful if you included which animal each of you would like to be or the animal you think you look like.”
Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee distributed the papers she had prepared to the members and Manager Oh Baek Ho.
“According to Department Head Jo, HIT Entertainment tries to follow what the members want as much as possible.”
“Yes. The members are very involved.”
It was Manager Oh Baek Ho who answered this time. Of course Manager Oh Baek Ho knew that the newly scouted Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung was from Ara Entertainment.
Since it was the number one agency, there were no disagreements over Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung’s skills.
However, people from Ara Entertainment were stuck up just as much. Department Head Jo Anna would most likely overlook it herself just fine, but there were some concerns that HIT Entertainment’s ideology or casual company culture might get ruined.
Therefore, Manager Oh Baek Ho wanted to drill in the importance of exchanging ideas with the members or other teams from the beginning.
Thankfully, Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung seemed to have understood well what he meant.
Continuing on, they discussed the upcoming concert, such as its marketing. For now, KK’s schedule was focusing on the concert and the award show.
Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung wrapped up, saying today was meant for lightly discussing the project as a whole and that he’d like to discuss it in further detail next time.
“I heard that you especially have a lot of ideas regarding fan marketing, Do Wook. Please help me out a lot,”
Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung stated further specially to Do Wook, who was heading out of the conference room.
Do Wook replied as he stared quietly at Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung,
“Yes. I also look forward to working with you from here on out.”
After speaking with him a little and based off his response to what Manager Oh Baek Ho said, Do Wook could tell Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung was scouted from Ara Entertainment after he was offered extremely good conditions from Department Head Jo Anna.
Do Wook recalled stories about Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung, whom he had only heard rumors of during his time as an employee in Q Entertainment’s PR team.
‘He’s a person with a lot of ambition. Even if he came simply because the scouting conditions were good…he left a large agency like Ara Entertainment to come to HIT Entertainment? It doesn’t make sense.’
Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung was eyeing at least a Director level position even in the highly competitive Ara Entertainment.
HIT Entertainment’s status was also changing as KK was gaining popularity, but Do Wook couldn’t tell what Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung was thinking inside.
‘Is it that he simply saw more potential in HIT Entertainment?’
Do Wook looked at Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee who was next to Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung.
‘I feel like it’d be good to keep an eye out for any leaks.’
However, since Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee was there, Do Wook trusted that the project wouldn’t go completely wrong. Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee was Department Head Jo Anna’s trusted staff member as well as a HIT Entertainment staff member.
Even if Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung tried to sabotage the project from the inside, Department Head Jo Anna would hear about it from Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee.
“Then, please take care,”
Do Wook greeted Team Leader Lee Dae Hyung politely, and took special care to give a greeting to Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee.
Assistant Manager Do Ra Hee laughed shyly as she waved her hand.
“Ok, See you later Do Wook~!”
It was finally the day of KK’s first concert.
Friday. Despite it being a weekday, when the temporary store selling KK merchandise in front of the concert hall opened, the KK fans lined up from early morning and started buying merchandise.
From photocards with the members’ autographs printed on it, postcards, to slogan towels, merchandise like hoodies with the KK logo inscribed on it sold out one after another even before it was afternoon.
If you thought about the products that would be released Saturday and Sunday, it was going to be a tremendously profitable weekend.
The character panels of the six members that were set up next to the store were also gathering a lot of attention.
Animals representing each member were expressed in a cute way with the help of a famous illustrator. There wasn’t an official exhibit yet, and the panels were set up to see the fans’ reactions before the exhibit.
In front of the panel, there was an announcement posted that KK’s official online merchandise shop would be opening soon.
“Ahhh, I’m so nervous.”
“Me too, me too. The fan meeting last time was nice too. I can’t believe it’s a concert…it was possible to hear them rehearsing earlier. Did you hear them?”
“Of course. Ah, but I’m sad this was all the merchandise I was able to buy.”
“What did you buy?”
“Me? I bought a Do Wook badge and Hyung Seo photocard and hoodie.”
“Hurrrr. You bought a Do Wook badge? I didn’t even get to see Do Wook’s face.”
“I was in line since dawn. Do Wook merchandise sell out instantly.”
“Yeah. Ever since Do Wook did Get Ready 1999, auntie* fans were added to the mix, so it’s impossible to buy any Do Wook-related merchandise.”
“They said they’ll open an online shop, so to buy it from there. Geez.”
“I’ll have to. Do you see the character standing there? It’s cute. They made all sorts of stuff to take all my savings.”
“Tell me about it. Man. But if they become even bigger superstars, would we even be able to get concert tickets? It’s hard these days because Chinese fans are swarming here. If it weren’t for the fan club presales, I probably wouldn’t have been able to see them.”
“Yeah. Ah, they’ll probably be more popular by the next concert, huh?”
“It IS good that they’re gaining popularity, but…what if we won’t be able to see them anymore.”
“Tell me about it. ”
As they waited for the concert, the fans were easing their tension by frantically talking about various things.
The fact that it was their first concert was also making the members, who were getting ready, nervous, but it was the same for the fans who were waiting.
After waiting for a very long time, the concert hall doors opened and the endless lines of fans started to enter.
From the standing area to the 3rd floor audience area, the concert hall was jam-packed without even one open spot.
With their cheering sticks firmly in their hands, the fans waited for KK to make their appearance.
The lighting became dark and at the sound of the beat going boom― boom― the fans’ anticipation was at its peak.
Kyaaaaa― to the sound of ear piercing cheers, KK came on stage.
On top of the darkened stage, the members saw the wave of shining cheer sticks cheering them on. The sound of their heart beating was getting louder.
They had encountered it already during the fan meeting, but the concert was something else.
Their first solo concert.
KK started by performing their debut song ‘Sorry but I Love You’, then ‘Very Sorry’, even ‘LAST DANCE’, and their latest song ‘Howl’.
Do Wook, along with Ahn Hyung Seo, even performed two of their songs from the hip hop unit album.
Additionally, album subtracks were turned into performances that had never been broadcasted before and performed for the first time for the fans.
Unlike during the fan meeting, the concert continued without many remarks.
The KK fans were completely engrossed into the performances that went on without a moment of rest.
KK was performing so well that it was hard to believe that it was the first solo concert.
Of course because they were so nervous, during time for remarks Jung Yoon Ki forgot his cues, or Suk Ji Hoon who wasn’t used to the changed choreography briefly made a mistake, but it was such a small mistake that it was difficult to notice.
As the concert was coming to an end, not only the KK members but also fans who were enjoying the performance in the standing seats were drenched in sweat.
The concert’s last song was an acapella version of ‘Windy Day’.
The members set up a standing microphone, stood in a line and started singing ‘Windy Day’. Paper pollen that were prepared in stage equipment began to blow.
The lyrical melody made their minds calm down.
As the members committed the sight of the fans to their memories, they recalled the hectic days they had endured until now. They still had a long road ahead of them.
At that moment, the VCR screen that had only been showing the KK members started showing unknown figures one after another.
The fans were buzzing. And the members, who had checked the VCR screen, started to cry.
Do Wook turned around while holding the microphone and stared blankly at the screen.