In spite of the inexorable and seemingly unstoppable rise of digital content, in some niches and markets print magazines have proved to be remarkably durable.

And it isn’t just consumers and advertisers who still cherish ink on paper. As Angie Byun, CEO and Founder of global media consultancy AB WORLD points out celebrities and notable figures still love the ‘permanence of print’ and how it provides famous and important people the ultimate validation of “You’ve made it!”

Angie argues that now is the time for western media to look east, pointing out the rich cultural renaissance that is currently ongoing in countries like South Korea and Japan.

In this interview she discusses

  • The rise of K-pop and K-content 
  • How media companies can harness Korean and Japanese  content to extend their reach

At FIPP World Media Congress in Cascais, Portugal, on 6-8 June, Angie will be presenting on How native-language South Korean content took the world by storm – and what you can learn from it.

For specially discounted tickets click here.

Here she responds to our rapid-round questions.

Who are you? And what is your role in the media/publishing? 

I am currently the CEO and Founder of AB WORLD. AB WORLD is a global media consultancy representing leading US, Asian and international media, entertainment, F&B and luxury brands seeking to monetise their IP and products on new digital and social media platforms, expand their influence and reach new consumers through strategic cross-border business opportunities.  Several of my current and past clients have included: BDG,  W Media, NYLON, Panda Express Japan, NHK WORLD-JAPAN, Signal Messaging, TIME and TIME for Kids, Penske Media, Condé Nast, LINE FRIENDS America and SuperOrdinary.  

Prior to starting AB WORLD, I was at Condé Nast for 13 years and held various executive-level roles in new business development, sales and international licensing for brands like VOGUE, GQ, VANITY FAIR, WIRED, CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER, BON APPÉTIT, THE NEW YORKER  and GOLF DIGEST – successfully launching and managing new international editions, digital products, experiences, global advertising buys and over 100+ brand extensions in 30+ markets worldwide.  In addition, as one of the most senior Asian American businesswomen in media, I have been actively involved in DEI initiatives and have a strong track record of leading diverse teams and bringing emerging brands and multicultural talent into the forefront of the media, entertainment, luxury and sports industry. 

What have been the highlights of your career in media/publishing so far? 

Since founding AB WORLD in 2020, noteworthy representations have included:

Panda Express Japan

AB WORLD was named the Agency of Record in 2020 for Panda Express in Japan.  Panda Express is one of the world’s largest Asian restaurant brands in the world with over 2,500 locations worldwide in 12 international markets. Working in tandem with the US team, AB WORLD oversees all marketing, social media, experiential, influencer marketing and advertising campaigns for the Japanese market.

BDG and W Media 

AB WORLD represented BDG and W Media in their international expansion initiatives which has led to new licensing and syndication deals for Bustle, Inverse and W Magazine in China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. 

TIME for Kids

AB WORLD led the search and deal negotiations for TIME for KIDS in their expansion into China in 2021 through an exclusive, multi-year licensing deal.

Condé Nast 

The AB WORLD team provided digital marketing and production services to the CNX Marketing group for over 30+ clients for various travel, health, food, luxury, consumer products campaigns in 2021.

Leading TV and On-Demand Broadcaster

The AB WORLD team is assisting one of the largest TV and VOD broadcasters in Asia with B2B and B2C marketing, promotional and SEO/SEM strategic support as they seek to become a more global media company.

What do you see as the three key trends in the media?

  • K-pop, K-celebrities and K-content are becoming more mainstream in the global marketing, media and entertainment market. From luxury brands using Korean celebrities as their brand ambassadors (for example, each member of BTS is a brand ambassador of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Valentino, and Dior) for their marketing campaigns, to the rise and popularity of Korean entertainment content such as Parasite, Squid Games and Physical 100, to K-pop artists like Blackpink headlining events such as Coachella, what was once a very niche, fan-driven business is becoming more sophisticated and has become an attractive investment for many in the music, entertainment and media industry. In addition, K-content is becoming more sophisticated and evolving to become more modern, inclusive and diverse in its collaborations, storytelling and representation.  
  • Anime and Webtoons, which have been popular in Asia for decades, are becoming more popular globally.  1/3 of the world’s population or 2.88 billion people watch anime, and of the 222 million subscribers on Netflix, 50% watched some form of anime in 2021.  For Webtoons (digital comic books), the global Webtoon market was valued at $3.7 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $56 billion by 2030.  Key factors driving interest in Anime and Webtoons are the high-quality storylines, fantasy content, diverse characters, strong female leads and translation into multiple languages.
  • The popularity of Korean content and Japanese content has led to a surge of inbound tourism in Korea and Japan, language learning from non-native speakers, and a form of soft power and cultural diplomacy by both countries.  

Why are these trends important and how will they change media/publishing?

I encourage media and publishing companies to invest in a “learning trip” to Asia to explore this dynamic, ever-evolving market and make meaningful relationships, as more capital is being spent more than ever in APAC.  Korea has become the “Hollywood of the East” and it’s important to recognise and strategise how media companies can effectively grow their audiences and advertisers through these incredibly influential artists, creators and brands. And if a trip is too expensive or time-consuming, you can always consult with AB WORLD ☺.

Anything else you’d like to tell Congress delegates?  

Despite people saying “print is dead”, celebrities and notable figures still want to be on the cover of a print magazine and have their full-page editorial spread. While you can have (or buy) a blue check or be featured online or on TV, the permanence of print provides famous and important people the ultimate validation of “You’ve made it!”.  Perhaps this dates back to our primal instincts from early cave dwellings, this seeking of un-vanishable affirmation is universal, no matter which country you’re from! And publishers should take note of this incredible power, privilege and responsibility in this information, tech-driven age.  

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About Congress

The FIPP World Media Congress is a must-attend event for anyone in leadership positions in the media. Delegates can hear from an incredible range of media thought leaders and influencers while networking with their peers in the resort’s stunning venues and hotels.

For specially discounted tickets click here.