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'Otaku power' turns casting inside out

Posted October. 01, 2016 07:33,   

Updated October. 01, 2016 07:42


From their cramped-up rooms to an open world, Otakus share information with others who have common hobbies by showing off their “Otaku power” on their social network services (SNS). In addition, they team up to wield their power. Also called as “experts with no academic degrees,” Otakus also fiercely engage in writings related to their own area of interest, as if "experts with academic degrees" publish their articles.

As a compound word for musical and otakus, the musical aficionados “Mutakus” have developed into massive influencers – so powerful that even theater companies cannot overlook. For example, theatrical producers closely monitor an on-line community called “DCinside Theater & Musical Gallery.” Whenever a new performance is on stage, Mutakus share information and reviews on the performances on their on-line communities.

Their influence has been so powerful that they can change the direction of casting originally set by producers. Mutakus rose up against the news when they heard that singer Lee Su was casted in the musical “Mozart!” this summer. Their fierce opposition came as the singer had been charged with sex trafficking cases involving a minor but was suspended of indictment. It was Mutakus who gathered signatures and raised funds to protest against the original casting. One Mutaku even went further and shared a photograph of a huge amount of check to support the funding. Faced with strong oppositions from the musical aficionados, the producer eventually cancelled the original cast upon their demands.

Popular among Korean youngsters, room escape cafes are real-life mystery games where players have to solve various puzzles within limited time to escape from a locked room. Here, the “RS mystery club” also serves as an important consultant or quiz-makers for many room escape cafes. They meet regularly, develop quizzes based on information they shared, and provide useful tips in creating new themes.

It has also become common nowadays for Otakus to write their own books with thorough knowledge on their area of interests. The 20-year-old bus mania Lee Jong-won was officially broadcasted as a “Bus Otaku” with numerous data and knowledge on domestically manufactured buses. Based on his expertise, he will be publishing a book with a working title “The Encyclopedia of Bus,” which highlights the 70-year history and information of Korean buses. The 27-year-old CEO of mystery contents consulting firm “RS Project,” Noh Young-wook is also writing a mystery fact-book customized to Korean standards in order to penetrate the market currently dominated by Japanese novelists. “I wrote this book not only to raise profits, but also to leave a guiding footprint for those who need information on mystery facts,” Noh said.

김배중기자 wanted@donga.com