“Kawaii” is a Japanese word meaning (more or less) “cute”. It stands for girly mangas, kiddo merchandising, etc. Hello Kitty, for instance, is the very essence of Kawaii. According to specialists, it blossomed in Japan as a way for Japanese adults to escape their heavy lives, torn apart traditional and modern duties… Then, the kawaii aesthetic became popular in the Western world, before contaminating China, Singapore and Korea as they were emerging.
And indeed, in Korea, kawaii prevails!
The curious thing though, is that everyone embraces kawaii… not only individuals or companies, but also institutions.
Here, two cities. On top, a Seoul metro station, with puppets sitting on a platform bench. Below, Gyeongju’s mascot, used everywhere, from the train station panel to the trees grids.
On the left, this ridiculous cop is paint on a police bus !!!
On the right, this is how the police is going to respond demonstrations…
And that kaki lion, here? The army sign I’ve discovered on the demilitarized zone area.
A restricted zone, with real dangers, real weapons, real military guys, real hostile country behind the line… A cartoon character still ! Unbelievable !!!