This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2017)
Kakao Friends (stylized as KAKAO FRIENDS; Korean: 카카오프렌즈) are featured characters based on KakaoTalk emoticons released in November 2012 by Kakao. The copyrights of the characters are currently owned and managed by Kakao's subsidiary Kakao IX, which was formerly named Kakao Friends prior to an inter-subsidiary acquisition in 2018.
|First appearance||November 2012|
|Designed by||Hozo (Kwon Soon-ho)|
|Full name||Ryan (Lion)|
The character illustrator is Kwon Soon-ho, also known by his pen name Hozo. Kakao Friends has been used in various products and commercials, and has gained popularity and have become beloved characters in South Korea.
Kakao Friends characters were developed in about two months after the idea meeting in July 2012 began.
- Muzi: Curious and playful, Muzi is actually a piece of danmuji in rabbit clothes.
- Con: Con, who looks like a small crocodile, is the one who raised Muzi. It always shows one side of its face, which makes it mysterious.
- Apeach: Apeach has the setting of escaping from a peach tree after learning that she became monoecious due to a genetic modification. Kakao has made a short-form animation of Apeach, PeachFive (Korean: 피치파이브) which is launched April 2021. Starting with the series of Peach Five, it is planning to continue experimenting with various contents using Apeach Character IP in order to increase contact points with MZ generation and expand global fandom.
- Jay-G: Jay-G is a mole character who was sent to find a rabbit's liver as an agent from the underground country. So, he chases after Muzi for his/her liver. He apparently renamed himself Jay-G, after looking up to the American hip-hop artist, Jay-Z.
- Frodo: Frodo is a rich-born dog from the city. He is self-conscious about being a mixed-blooded dog. He usually wears a red dog collar or a tie. Frodo is officially a couple with Neo, the cat character.
- Neo: Neo is a cat character with a bob cut wig and she is the girlfriend of Frodo.
- Tube: Tube is a duck. He is insecure about his small feet, so he wears flippers. If he feels extreme fear or anger, he spits fire out of his mouth and turns into a crazy green duck.
- Ryan: The character named Ryan was newly announced on January 22, 2016. He is a strong, independent male lion. At first glance, he looks like a bear, but he is actually a maneless lion. Ryan was a successor to the throne of Dung Dung Island, but he decided royalty was not for him. A lot of people misunderstand him because of his expressionless face, but he’s the trustworthy mentor who has delicate emotions. Ryan's tail is short because it is cuter. He has a cat called Chunsik.  On Kakaopage, a webtoon called Ryan the Lion was published in a series from October 26th, 2020 to January 25th, 2021.
- choonsik : It is a female cat from Ryan's stray cat. Her favorite food is pumpkin sweet potato. Raongi, Nyan and Chunsik were nominated for the name and named Chunsik on Instagram on September 10, 2020. Chunsik goods was also released on December 17, 2020.
- Penda Jr.: Penda is an alien animal that made a crash landing in snowtown. It is Ratser Panda who dreams of revenge.
- Scappy: Scappy was originally a polar bear, but became a rabbit. Also, Scappy is the most popular chef in Snowtown.
- Kero & Berony: They are playful twin penguin brother and sister. They can be distinguished by the shell hairpin on their head.
- Jordy: Jordy is a dinosaur that has been kept secret since its existence. On September 18, 2020, it hosted the Jordy pop-up store at the Kakao Friends Shop in Gangnam. 
- Cob & Bbanya: They are curious crows and hippos. And they are acting as Snowtown detectives.
- Angmond: Angmond is a chocolate-loving harp seal.
Products and shopEdit
Beginning in Sinchon in April 2014, the company opened a store in the form of a pop-up store in major department stores in major cities such as Daegu and Busan, and several stores were established as regular stores. In addition to the character products sold in stores, KaKao Friends characters are used in collaboration with other companies in other fields.
In May 2021, Kakao VX has started a premium golf driving range business using Kakao Friends characters.
In 2018, Kakao has released Kakao Little Friends Phone, a smartphone dedicated to elementary school students that has enhanced protection for their children. Kakao Little Friends Phone was released up to version 4 by 2021.
After seeing the structure in which Daum Kakao owns all the copyrights of Kakao Friends, the character illustrators do not receive profits from the sale of Kakao Friends character products, some criticized whether it was the second Cloud Bread incident. However, the Daum Kakao official said that Daum Kakao had all the copyrights at the time of the first contract with the HOZO writer. Although the Kakao Talk emoticon revenue is shared, the Kakao Friends business does not pay a separate fee to the artist. The author also stated that he is in a position to avoid controversy about this issue.
It has been embroiled in controversy that it promotes violence and cruelty on social media. The fact that the character description of 'Panda', whose last name is 'only one', contains the phrase, "The goal is to dry out all the polar bears," and Cobb & Panya, introduced as a detective duo, "has a stalker temperament and likes to follow. ", etc. has been raised. People criticized it, pointing out that the main users of the character were minors.
- "Kakao Friends gets new name Kakao IX after takeover". The Korea Herald. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
- "Pictures speak louder than words". The Korea Herald News. 2016-05-27. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
- "카카오톡 캐릭터 디자이너를 만나다" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "Kakao Friends become most beloved characters in Korea". The Korea Herald News. 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
- "카톡 이모티콘 '노란 토끼'가 단무지라고?…카카오 프렌즈 뒷이야기" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "Which Kakao friend are you?". The Manila Times. September 27, 2014. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
- 수정: 2013.10.24 16:40, 입력: 2013 10 24 14:32 (2013-10-24). "카톡 이모티콘 '노란 토끼'가 단무지라고?…카카오 프렌즈 뒷이야기". biz.khan.co.kr (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-04-04.
- "카카오프렌즈 캐릭터, 어피치가 주인공인 숏폼 애니매이션 나와". www.hani.co.kr (in Korean). 2021-04-02. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
- "카카오, 캐릭터IP 활용한 숏폼 콘텐츠 '피치파이브' 공개".
- "카카오프렌즈 '어피치', 피치파이브로 글로벌 MZ 팬심 잡았다". 팍스경제TV (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-05-16.
- "Kakao Friends is all about simpatico characters". koreajoongangdaily.joins.com. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
- Herald, The Korea (2016-05-27). "[EYE] Pictures speak louder than words". www.koreaherald.com. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
- "The Kakao Friends Lovable Characters with Life-Sized Personalities". KAKAO FRIENDS ONLINE STORE. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
- "카카오 '라이언' 디자이너를 만나다". brunch (in Korean). 2016-07-06. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "Ryan the maneless lion brings in big bucks". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
- "카카오프렌즈", 위키백과, 우리 모두의 백과사전 (in Korean), 2019-02-27, retrieved 2019-03-18
- "카카오프렌즈, 라이언의 반려묘 '춘식이' 굿즈 첫 출시". biz.chosun.com (in Korean). 2020-12-17. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
- "카카오페이지, 라이언 스토리 '라이언, 더 라이언' 연재". 세계일보 (in Korean). 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2021-05-30.
- "카카오프렌즈 새 캐릭터 춘식이!...라이언도 있는데 나만 없어 고양이" (in Korean). Retrieved 2020-09-11.
- "카카오, 강남에 니니즈 '죠르디' 팝업스토어 오픈". https://gametoc.hankyung.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=56045. External link in
- 이, 해인 기자 (2017-11-14). "카카오, 동물 모티브 새 캐릭터 '니니즈' 출시 - 머니투데이". 머니투데이 (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-04-15.
- 무단전재, Ⓒ 종합 경제정보 미디어 이데일리-상업적; 금지, 재배포 (2015-05-11). "식품 프랜차이즈, 캐릭터 활용 마케팅 `봇물`". edaily. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "'프렌즈런'도 Top10 진입… 카카오프렌즈 연타석 홈런". hankyung.com (in Korean). 2016-05-31. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "'프렌즈타운' 애플 앱스토어 게임 인기 순위 1위". mk.co.kr (in Korean). Retrieved 2019-05-09.
- FNTIMES. "우리·하나 '뱅크월렛카카오' 앞선 출시". 한국금융신문. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "다음카카오, 카카오프렌즈 담은 '하나 체크카드' 출시". 100세시대의 동반자 브릿지경제 (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "KAKAO FRIENDS". store.kakaofriends.com. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
- "`라이언 캐디` 떴다…카카오 골프연습장 사업 진출". 매일경제 (in Korean). 2021-05-03. Retrieved 2021-05-16.
- Han, Jinju (2018-02-22). "카카오 자회사 핀플레이, '카카오키즈폰' 출시". 아시아경제 (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-06-06.
- Lee, Chang-gyu (2021-01-07). "LGU+, 자녀 보호기능 강화한 'U+카카오리틀프렌즈폰4' 출시". 뉴스1 (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-06-06.
- Kim, Ji-sun(김지성) (2015-06-11). "매출 대박난 '카톡캐릭터'… 원작자 몫은 얼마?" ['KakaoTalk Characters' with huge sales... How much is the original author's share?]. Digital Times.
- Lee, Ji-min(이지민) (2017-11-21). "[모이] 카카오톡 니니즈가 귀엽다고요?" [[Moi] KakaoTalk Niniz is cute?]. Ohmynews.
- Park, Hong-du(박홍두) (2017-11-19). "[지금 SNS에선]카카오 새 캐릭터 논란" [[On SNS now] Kakao's new character controversy]. Kyung-hyang News.