Kidult is a combination of the word “Kid” and “Adult” and refers to adults normally in their late 20s to early 30s who have interests that are conventionally associated with children such as playing with toys, watching cartoons ,and colleccting dolls.The concept was first introduced in 1985 August 11th in the New York Times to describe the unprecedented popularity of the Barbie doll among adults.
For a while, kidults were considered as a social anomaly of adults that failed to outgrow their childish side. In the US, the kidult fad was mainly focused on collecting dolls such as Barbie dolls and Bratz dolls .In the East Asian region, robot making kits inspired from the popular Animation series “Gundam”were widely popular. In Korea, many young adults collected these Gundam kits despite high tax prices from importing in from Japan. The sight of grown adults fanatically engaging “childish” robots and dolls were viewed in a negative light and openly criticized by society. These kidults and their culture had a very small and underground scale but was fiercely attacked by mainstream society.
Then, what was nothing more than an underground phenomenon suddenly ballooned into a huge mainstream culture. This was due to the sudden worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter series. 7 books were published over the span of 10 years along with the sprouting of multiple franchises in movies, games, amusement parks, and many more. Readers and fans that were children at the start of the series kept loyal to the series and by the time the series wrapped up, they were full grown adults that were still attatched to their childhood favorites. Due to the Harry Potter series, a worldwide clan of kidults were cultivated. People could engage with kidult culure changing the way kidults and kidult culture were viewed as into a positive light.
Starting with the Harry Potter series, kidult culture began to grow rapidly. These adults began to expand their territory to existing brands and products targeted for children such as the Disney and Pixar animations, Legos, and even yoyos and skateboards. As the volume of the kidult culture began to grow, the social and economic influence the culture had begun to grow as well. Slowly but surely, many brands began to set kidults as a specific target group for their products and actually yield profits from that choice. Also, kidults were no longer criticized as before and began to grow as a concrete form of mainstream culture.
South Korea also has quite a large kidult population within the nation. The kidult market of Korea has nearly a 4.5 million dollar value. Considering that the US and Japan, which are the heart of Kidult culture each have a 10 trillion and 5.4 billion market value, this is far from modest. Despite its small nation, kidult culture has grown fast and strong and is now growing every year. It can be estimated that kidults will evolve into a influential social class in Korean within a few decades. We will now proceed to elucidate the history and growth of the kidult culture, its social and economic influence within the Korean nation, and present an analysis of the future of the kidult culture in Korea.