Social media influencers have been rising in Korea over the past decade. However, the latest trend has been virtual influencers. Companies big and small are looking into creating virtual influencers in Korea for their marketing needs. Virtual influencers are digital characters/avatars that were created using computer software. Moreover, these virtual influencers have their own personality thanks to AI technology and are active on social media channels like Instagram and YouTube.
Virtual influencers in Korea can do anything that the typical Korean social media influencer can do. However, virtual influencers give companies a lot more control and engagement. Control in the fact that these virtual influencers will do anything the company asks of them without question. Engagement in that they can be active on social media 27/7 and respond to any fan interaction immediately. Therefore many of these virtual influencers in Korea were created for the purpose of marketing and communication.
Could they be the future of the influencer marketing industry? If you are interested in knowing the most popular virtual influencers in Korea right now, we at SEOULSPACE created a list to keep an eye on in 2022.
AESPA (æ-Karina, æ-Winter, æ-Giselle, and æ-NingNing)
When discussing virtual influencers in Korea, we must start with the most famous virtual Kpop group AESPA. AESPA consists of 4 human members, with each member having a virtual counterpart that exists in a digital world called the FLAT. Therefore, they are online avatars of the members, not copies of them but their representation in the virtual world. Karina is the leader, Winter is a gamer, Giselle is a social media influencer, and NingNing is a computer hacker. The storyline is that these virtual members must combat the villain Black Mamba who is disrupting their travel between the virtual and real worlds.
A virtual influencer was created by Sidus Studio X, the subsidiary of LOCUS. The digital human is named Rozy, and she represents a 22-year-old female model in Gangnam. She made her debut in August 2020 and is considered the first virtual influencer in Korea. In addition, She has over 110,000 followers on Instagram and has received more than 100 sponsorships from brands such as Clavin Klein, Maison Margiela, and Hera Beauty. One sponsor was Shinhan Life, who used Rozy for an ad that got over 11.3 million views on YouTube to date. Furthermore, Rozy earned $900,000 in 2021.
Saejin is a virtual Kpop idol and a member of the Kpop boy group Superkind. The group has five members, with 4 being human idols and Saejin being the lone virtual idol. He can be seen on YouTube in Superkind’s first single, “Watch Out.” While he is a virtual idol, he matches the member’s choreography perfectly, and sometimes you forget he is not a real human. In addition, it is not 100% known whether the voice is an AI-generated or an actual human.
DAIN is a member of the virtual Kpop girl group Etern!ty. However, she came out with her own music video, “No Filter,” on YouTube. It now has over 2.2 million views on YouTube. She was created by Pulse9, an AI startup in Korea that used AI technology called Deep Real AI 3.0. The technology involves applying her face, which is made by AI technology, to the video with a real background. Therefore, DAIN can pose naturally and dance in the video.
LG Electronics created a virtual influencer named Reah Keem. Reah Keem is a female musician in her 20s. She made her debut at CES 2022 and got a lot of attention. Moreover, it was announced that Reah Keem would collaborate with Mystic Story, a Korean record label, to produce her debut album. It is set to be released in late 2022. In addition, she even has her own SoundCloud account.
The most interesting aspect is that Reah Keem will compose her own songs using AI technology. Moreover, AI technology was used to create her mannerisms and expressions. It analyzed the movements of Korean actors. Furthermore, her voice was created by analyzing four months of natural language data collection.
AI Anchor ‘Kim Ju-Ha’
DeepBrain AI is the creator of an AI version of Korean celebrity anchor Kim Ju-Ha. Kim Ju-Ha is the news anchor for the Korean cable channel MBN. MBN became the first broadcaster in Korea to report the news using an AI announcer. AI Kim is almost identical to the real Kim in terms of looks and sound. Furthermore, even her small gestures and facial expressions were created using deep learning technology. MBN uses AI Kim for breaking news reports and does daily news programs under the title “Afternoon News with AI Anchor Kim Ju-Ha,” which is aired and published on YouTube. While AI Kim is not a virtual influencer, she has the potential to have a significant influence on the Korean audience as she is a part of a major news network.