Are you aware of the new Yongsan mascot, ‘Pew Pew’? It’s a baby dragon that has yet to master flying but loves challenges. Team Samyongsookee, creator of Pew Pew, said they drew Pew Pew’s passion from the passion of Sookmyungians. SMT reporters met up with Team Samyongsookee to learn more about this new interesting fairytale character.
Before we start, thank you for taking the time to meet with us today. Would you please introduce Team Samyongsookee to our readers?
It’s our pleasure. Team, ‘Samyongsookee(삼용숙이)’ was founded by four individuals, two from Sookmyung, namely Bae Lina and Kim Soyi. The name is derived from our desire to change the District of Yongsan by Sookmyungians’ hands. We first met when we applied for the competition held by Sookmyung Campus Town. The theme of the competition was fresh ideas that would revitalize Yongmoon Traditional Market. Due to great team dynamics, we had an excellent result at the competition, so we decided to maintain the team. Until last year, there were three core Sookmyungians on the team. At that time, Lee Hangji (Department of Arts & Craft '13) made the decision to leave the team to concentrate on her job employment. We were asked to come up with a new idea for the District of Yongsan. After looking into Yongsan, we clearly saw the word Yongsan itself is a combination of 'Yong' and 'San', which in Korean means ‘dragon’ and ‘mountain’, and although Yongsan has used these themes in a number of its festivals and events, the District did not have a mascot symbolizing the word Yongsan. We created a brand-new dragon character, ‘Pew Pew’, for the District of Yongsan.
Besides getting assistance from the SK Start-Up Program, have you ever received any other assistance or gained insight from other school activities, extracurricular activities, or personal experiences?
All of us enjoy drawing cute characters, so this naturally led us to visit related exhibitions and fairs, which definitely was a huge help later. Also, since all of us already had prior interest in the field, brainstorming new character ideas and its background story was not very difficult. We applied various aspects of our daily lives onto the Pew Pew character creation. People who see it will surely feel that it’s very approachable. We got help from the ‘Start-Up/Job Creation Club’ managed by Sookmyung Women’s University’s Entrepreneurship Center. Not only did the club provide much needed financial aid, but its various lectures were invaluable. We received the 2017 Start-Up Award and got sponsorship from Campus Town Organization for Pew Pew. In addition to the financial support, through the Sookmyung Women’s University’s PRIME project, we participated in the STAR Program and received additional financial support as well as help from its various mentoring sessions. Besides these, we took advantage of all Sookmyung Women’s University had to offer such as its numerous support programs that help Sookmyungians individually. It’s a shame that not many Sookmyungians seem to take advantage of all the start-up projects and programs Sookmyung Women’s University offers students. I’d like to see more students using the opportunities to try something new or what they’ve only dreamed of.
Designing a new character involves much more than the ability to draw. I’m sure you need to consider materials, target audiences, and so on before turning a product into something that can be sold. Would you tell us the main focus of your Team, and what is most important when crafting a character that will guarantee success in the character industry?
At first, we consider a character’s looks, but knowing that personality and background story of a character are essential, we work on that more intensely. The lifespan of a character depends on how many people can relate to it, and this only happens when people can look at the character and say, “Yes, that is me!” Characters in which people can see themselves are the ones that survive, for they are likely to be more loved. For this reason, we typically set our target audience as females in their twenties, who we can best relate to. Our first line of products were stationary goods, and since females in their twenties are the typical buyers of these products, it was not much of a burden for us. Also, we expected this target group to have enough money to afford our stationary goods, and we were right.
Having created the mascot for Yongsan, will you continue with other districts in Seoul or will you venture outside of the Seoul Metropolitan to other provinces? Which regions do you have in mind and why that particular region?
In order to create a character that represents a certain region, the first thing to consider is whether or not the region is in need of a character. So communication with someone in charge of the region is crucial before the development stage. Furthermore, the character must be able to intuitively represent its region. Taking into account all factors, we have played with the idea of a ‘sheep (pronounced is ‘yang’ in Korean)’ for the city of Anyang. Nothing is completely decided, but we are planning to formally send a proposal to Anyang when time presents itself.
Having participated in various events such as the ‘2017 Seoul Traditional Market Festival’ hosted by Seoul, the ‘2017 Dragon Festival’ by Yongsan District, and the ‘Seoul Illustration Fair’, what re some of the difficulties and moments of pride you experienced?
After participating in those events, what surprised us the most was the fact that our character was judged right in front of us. We not only were able to see firsthand reactions like ‘aww, it is so cute’ or ‘I want to buy it’, but I also heard great feedback commentary like ‘I think Pew Pew is cuter when it’s lying down than the image here.’ These types of immediate feedback helped us to know our consumers’ tastes. We went through some hard times due to a lack of offline event experiences such as standing outside at our booth all day in the frigid weather, hiding under a table to eat, carrying heavy loads without the help of having a car, and others. Despite those hardships, being able to meet people who love Pew Pew in person let us feel what we are doing is worthwhile. At last year’s ‘Seoul Illustration Fair’, several Sookmyungians dropped by our booth to show support after reading about us on Everytime. That really boosted our spirits and we appreciated it greatly.
What are Team Samyongsookee’s future plans?
Our goal is to create a character that embodies the essence of Korea. However, before doing so, we are currently in the process of planning to expand our business to add additional regional characters. We are thinking about having them be Pew Pew’s friends and creating an entire backdrop story to them. We hope they will be loved by all. Also, we are even thinking about gathering all of our regional characters in one place and hosting a field day or an exhibition. We would like to see the regional characters become trendy, friendly, and lovable through our ideas.
Lastly, would you like to leave some final words for our beloved SMT readers?
We are thrilled to be able to meet Sookmyungians through this interview on Pew Pew. We hope we’ve shown how Pew Pew is the image of our generation. We failed often, were unsatisfied with our creations, but never gave up and eventually created Pew Pew. Pew Pew cannot fly yet, but it pushes itself daily and its endeavouring spirit will one day lead to it soaring far up among the clouds. Team Samyongsookee is also continuously trying, failing, and repeating. We will do our best to ensure everyone finds a bit of Pew Pew that they can relate to. Please visit our SNS account to meet and learn more about Pew Pew. Also, we’d love to hear any comments and feedback you may have. We appreciate all your support from the bottom of our hearts.