Big in Asia, Line app hopes cute factor will win worldwide

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In this March 16, 2015 photo, tourists take their souvenir photos with an outsized Line’s character Brown bear at the Line Friends flagship shop in Seoul, South Korea. For smartphone users in Asia where most of Line’s 181 million monthly users are located, the characters are as familiar as Hello Kitty or Disney’s animated stars. They are not well known in America or Europe but owner Line Corp. hopes to change that. It plans to open 100 stores selling Brown dolls and other cute “Line Friends” paraphernalia worldwide over the next three years as a way to draw more users to the app. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty: Move over. And make way for laidback Brown bear and his irrepressible girlfriend Cony the bunny.