Page 1

Korean Culture No.11

K-Animation

The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) was inaugurated as the Overseas Information Center under the Ministry of Culture and Information in 1971. Its aim is to introduce Korean culture to the world and to raise Korea’s national profile. KOCIS has worked to consolidate ties with countries all over the world through cultural exchange. It continues working today to explore new ways of bringing Korean art and culture to the citizens of the world.

N

ow K-animation is providing another outstanding avenue for sharing Korean culture, this time with

children everywhere. South Korea is one of the largest suppliers of television animation in the world. Children’s computer animation is one area in particular where K-animation is making rapid strides. K-animations are designed by Korean

Befriending Children All Over the World

About

K Animation Befriending Children All Over the World

About the series The Korean Culture series is one of the Korean Culture and Information Service’s projects to furnish international readers with insights into and basic understanding of the dynamic and diverse aspects of contemporary Korean culture.

companies with foreign film and television audiences in mind. More and more, foreign companies are investing or participating in the process.

Korean Culture and Information Service

K-animation 표지(세네카)-민정.indd 1

2013-12-13 오후 1:54:36


K Animation


Korean Culture No.11

K-Animation: Befriending Children All Over the World

K Animation Befriending Children All Over the World

Copyright Š 2013 by Korean Culture and Information Service All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. First Published in 2013 by Korean Culture and Information Service Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Phone: 82-2-398-1914~20 Fax: 82-2-398-1882 Website: www.kocis.go.kr ISBN: 978-89-7375-581-3 04650 ISBN: 978-89-7375-578-3 04080 (set) Printed in the Republic of Korea For further information about Korea, please visit: www.korea.net


Korean Culture No.11

K-Animation: Befriending Children All Over the World

K Animation Befriending Children All Over the World

Copyright Š 2013 by Korean Culture and Information Service All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. First Published in 2013 by Korean Culture and Information Service Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Phone: 82-2-398-1914~20 Fax: 82-2-398-1882 Website: www.kocis.go.kr ISBN: 978-89-7375-581-3 04650 ISBN: 978-89-7375-578-3 04080 (set) Printed in the Republic of Korea For further information about Korea, please visit: www.korea.net


Chapter Three

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide

65

Prelude to Progress

65

Animated Features That Swept International Film Festivals

68

Korean Animators in Hollywood

74

Korean Independent Animation

78

Chapter Four

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters

Contents 09

Prologue

83

Gaining More Global Recognition

83

Rapid Growth with Asia as a Foothold

85

Star Characters

90

Animation Theme Park

101

Appendix

106

Chapter One

13

A Friend to Children Everywhere

14

Rise to World’s Top 5 Animation Powerhouses

22

K-Animation Jointly Produced by Korea and the World

30

K-Animation’s Strengths Chapter Two

33

The History of K-Animation

33

The Beginning of K-Animation (1960s)

41

Sci-fi Animation Boom (1970s)

48

Overcoming Stagnation and Rising Anew (1980s–90s)

56

Into the Hearts of Children Worldwide in the 21st Century

4 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 5


Chapter Three

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide

65

Prelude to Progress

65

Animated Features That Swept International Film Festivals

68

Korean Animators in Hollywood

74

Korean Independent Animation

78

Chapter Four

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters

Contents 09

Prologue

83

Gaining More Global Recognition

83

Rapid Growth with Asia as a Foothold

85

Star Characters

90

Animation Theme Park

101

Appendix

106

Chapter One

13

A Friend to Children Everywhere

14

Rise to World’s Top 5 Animation Powerhouses

22

K-Animation Jointly Produced by Korea and the World

30

K-Animation’s Strengths Chapter Two

33

The History of K-Animation

33

The Beginning of K-Animation (1960s)

41

Sci-fi Animation Boom (1970s)

48

Overcoming Stagnation and Rising Anew (1980s–90s)

56

Into the Hearts of Children Worldwide in the 21st Century

4 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 5


“The Korean animated film My Beautiful Girl, Mari makes extensive use of symbolic magical realism elements, in an animation style that is noticeably different from both Disney-style American animation and Japanese animation.” ADV Films, Sep 17, 2003

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild “This truly impressive and beautiful movie is destined to be a classic.” My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)

Koreanfilm.org, Sep 28, 2011

“An enduring tale that was brought to life by some great voice acting and stunning visuals ... A landmark animation.” HanCinema, Jan 7, 2012

“South Korea is the fourth largest producer of animation globally. ... South Korea has emerged as an animation powerhouse and is one of the largest suppliers of television animation in the world.” Research and Markets, May 2013

6 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the(2003) World O-Nu-Ri image courtesy of INDIESTORY INC.

A Friend to Children Everywhere 7


“The Korean animated film My Beautiful Girl, Mari makes extensive use of symbolic magical realism elements, in an animation style that is noticeably different from both Disney-style American animation and Japanese animation.” ADV Films, Sep 17, 2003

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild “This truly impressive and beautiful movie is destined to be a classic.” My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)

Koreanfilm.org, Sep 28, 2011

“An enduring tale that was brought to life by some great voice acting and stunning visuals ... A landmark animation.” HanCinema, Jan 7, 2012

“South Korea is the fourth largest producer of animation globally. ... South Korea has emerged as an animation powerhouse and is one of the largest suppliers of television animation in the world.” Research and Markets, May 2013

6 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the(2003) World O-Nu-Ri image courtesy of INDIESTORY INC.

A Friend to Children Everywhere 7


Prologue

Korean animation officially got off the ground in 1967. Although animation studios in other countries have had more than a century of experience, the industry in Korea goes back less than 50 years, and on top of that, it was tied to subcontracted projects until the 1990s. Afterwards, the sector went through a lackluster period before experiencing a renaissance of original creative works produced by Koreans themselves. It was only in the mid-1990s that Korean animation entered the global stage. Before then, Koreans considered animation as a harmful, lowlevel medium for children. From the 1990s, however, K-Animation began to be seen for its cultural content. Dooly the Little Dinosaur (1996) was a pioneering work that enjoyed amazing sales overseas, something rare at the time for Korean animation, and went on to benefit from the character product market. This is how Korean animation slowly began to grow into a huge franchise industry with series such as Pororo the Little Penguin, Robocar Poli, Larva, Backkom (a.k.a. Bernard in overseas markets) and

8 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011)

Prologue 9


Prologue

Korean animation officially got off the ground in 1967. Although animation studios in other countries have had more than a century of experience, the industry in Korea goes back less than 50 years, and on top of that, it was tied to subcontracted projects until the 1990s. Afterwards, the sector went through a lackluster period before experiencing a renaissance of original creative works produced by Koreans themselves. It was only in the mid-1990s that Korean animation entered the global stage. Before then, Koreans considered animation as a harmful, lowlevel medium for children. From the 1990s, however, K-Animation began to be seen for its cultural content. Dooly the Little Dinosaur (1996) was a pioneering work that enjoyed amazing sales overseas, something rare at the time for Korean animation, and went on to benefit from the character product market. This is how Korean animation slowly began to grow into a huge franchise industry with series such as Pororo the Little Penguin, Robocar Poli, Larva, Backkom (a.k.a. Bernard in overseas markets) and

8 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011)

Prologue 9


Buru & Forest Friends. Soon, the sector grew into a global entertainment business covering Asia, Europe and North and South America. This book includes a summary of Korean animation today and the results it has achieved overseas as well as a brief history of the subject. Chapter 1 describes how animation is created in Korea, and the latest trends can basically be divided into three parts. The first is K-Animation’s achievements abroad. Starting with Pororo the Little Penguin, the industry has continued to grow over the last decade, steadily producing new characters and content. So this part deals with the reasons behind K-Animation’s success, support from the government and unique characteristics. Second, the chapter describes how Korean production studios are working on joint projects with foreign counterparts as equal

Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011)

partners, not subcontractors. And third, it talks about K-Animation’s strengths. Chapter 2 looks at the history of K-Animation, which started

film festivals, with their artistic value recognized at the same time.

with commercials in the 1950s. This eventually

Chapter 3 deals with animation that did well at foreign film festivals, and

led to the production of homegrown

talks about Koreans who have made an impact as key staff at Hollywood

animated features in the 1960s,

studios. Chapter 4 summarizes well-known characters from K-Animation.

while the 1970s saw a boom in robot

In addition, a short report describes how K-Animation has been combined

sci-fi animation in Korea. But in a country

with other fields such as theme parks, video and computer games, the

that traditionally specialized in subcontract

Korean Wave and webtoons.

work, the Korean animation industry would

The world has seen K-Animation for less than 20 years, yet the industry

never have grown in the “dark ages” of the

continues to grow at a rapid pace. The main purpose of this book is to

1980s if not for TV animation later on. The

provide a better understanding of where K-Animation has come from and

sector expanded its market share in the 1990s,

where it will go in the future.

and in the 2000s, independent animated works from Korea began winning awards at international

Hello, Jadoo

10 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Prologue 11


Buru & Forest Friends. Soon, the sector grew into a global entertainment business covering Asia, Europe and North and South America. This book includes a summary of Korean animation today and the results it has achieved overseas as well as a brief history of the subject. Chapter 1 describes how animation is created in Korea, and the latest trends can basically be divided into three parts. The first is K-Animation’s achievements abroad. Starting with Pororo the Little Penguin, the industry has continued to grow over the last decade, steadily producing new characters and content. So this part deals with the reasons behind K-Animation’s success, support from the government and unique characteristics. Second, the chapter describes how Korean production studios are working on joint projects with foreign counterparts as equal

Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011)

partners, not subcontractors. And third, it talks about K-Animation’s strengths. Chapter 2 looks at the history of K-Animation, which started

film festivals, with their artistic value recognized at the same time.

with commercials in the 1950s. This eventually

Chapter 3 deals with animation that did well at foreign film festivals, and

led to the production of homegrown

talks about Koreans who have made an impact as key staff at Hollywood

animated features in the 1960s,

studios. Chapter 4 summarizes well-known characters from K-Animation.

while the 1970s saw a boom in robot

In addition, a short report describes how K-Animation has been combined

sci-fi animation in Korea. But in a country

with other fields such as theme parks, video and computer games, the

that traditionally specialized in subcontract

Korean Wave and webtoons.

work, the Korean animation industry would

The world has seen K-Animation for less than 20 years, yet the industry

never have grown in the “dark ages” of the

continues to grow at a rapid pace. The main purpose of this book is to

1980s if not for TV animation later on. The

provide a better understanding of where K-Animation has come from and

sector expanded its market share in the 1990s,

where it will go in the future.

and in the 2000s, independent animated works from Korea began winning awards at international

Hello, Jadoo

10 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Prologue 11


Chapter One

A Friend to Children Everywhere

Korean animation is exported to more that 120 countires. Global competition is fierce, especially from household names like Shrek and Nemo. Still, Korean animation has made huge strides on the global stage, one of which was a reconciliation project jointly carried out between the two Koreas with a brand value of an estimated KRW 850 billion and an overall economic effect of KRW 5.7 trillion. Other notable achievements include the TV animation Pororo the Little Penguin. Though Korea took a more vested interest in producing and exporting cultural content in the 1990s, the 21st century was when it really began making innovative development in animation. One of the most important elements driving this progress was the cute little penguin himself, Pororo, who provided the Korean animation industry, which up until then had no famous characters, with one that children around the world could immediately identify.

12 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Backkom

A Friend to Children Everywhere 13


Chapter One

A Friend to Children Everywhere

Korean animation is exported to more that 120 countires. Global competition is fierce, especially from household names like Shrek and Nemo. Still, Korean animation has made huge strides on the global stage, one of which was a reconciliation project jointly carried out between the two Koreas with a brand value of an estimated KRW 850 billion and an overall economic effect of KRW 5.7 trillion. Other notable achievements include the TV animation Pororo the Little Penguin. Though Korea took a more vested interest in producing and exporting cultural content in the 1990s, the 21st century was when it really began making innovative development in animation. One of the most important elements driving this progress was the cute little penguin himself, Pororo, who provided the Korean animation industry, which up until then had no famous characters, with one that children around the world could immediately identify.

12 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Backkom

A Friend to Children Everywhere 13


Rise to World’s Top 5 Animation Powerhouses The success of Pororo the Little Penguin was thanks to producers recognizing a clear target audience. Parents of children ages 4–7 also had a role in shaping this development. They came up with simple stories from a child’s point of view, short episodes five to seven minutes long, so that little children could become immersed in the story and not see it as simply educational. In addition, the varied use of colors was an important element of this animation. Using a snow-covered village in the Antarctic (where white symbolizes the innocence of childhood), characters in vivid colors appeared against a white background, which greatly appealed to

Robocar Poli

children. At the same time, Pororo had a widely recognized educational value.

in the past. As a result, the producers of Pororo the Little Penguin studied

Although many other works of children’s animation have an overt

animated series from other countries before conceiving one specifically for

educational purpose, Pororo the Little Penguin seamlessly incorporated

little children, thereby targeting a niche market with a well-organized plan

content to strengthen a child’s sense of independence and fitting in

from the beginning.

socially within the story. This is part of the reason parents fully embraced

At first, a crucial decision was if the characters should be humans or

the quality of the animation. Even more important was the meticulously

animals. Ultimately, human characters were decided on because the

planned marketing strategy. The animation’s franchise was originally

producers felt they could best describe their intentions and cultural

planned in 2001, two years

background through animated people. With the understanding that this

before Pororo’s first release

might be an obstacle to exporting the film, they created the character

on TV. With the Korean

Pororo. A penguin was chosen in the end because the flightless bird

government star ting to

often does not appear in animation for young kids. Furthermore, Pororo

fully support animation

the Little Penguin became a success because it targeted a niche market

production from 1999, the

and was written to focus on universal themes and cultural similarities

importance of film content

internationally.

grew more scrutinized than

The plan was an immediate hit, and Pororo the Little Penguin was Pororo the Little Penguin

14 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 15


Rise to World’s Top 5 Animation Powerhouses The success of Pororo the Little Penguin was thanks to producers recognizing a clear target audience. Parents of children ages 4–7 also had a role in shaping this development. They came up with simple stories from a child’s point of view, short episodes five to seven minutes long, so that little children could become immersed in the story and not see it as simply educational. In addition, the varied use of colors was an important element of this animation. Using a snow-covered village in the Antarctic (where white symbolizes the innocence of childhood), characters in vivid colors appeared against a white background, which greatly appealed to

Robocar Poli

children. At the same time, Pororo had a widely recognized educational value.

in the past. As a result, the producers of Pororo the Little Penguin studied

Although many other works of children’s animation have an overt

animated series from other countries before conceiving one specifically for

educational purpose, Pororo the Little Penguin seamlessly incorporated

little children, thereby targeting a niche market with a well-organized plan

content to strengthen a child’s sense of independence and fitting in

from the beginning.

socially within the story. This is part of the reason parents fully embraced

At first, a crucial decision was if the characters should be humans or

the quality of the animation. Even more important was the meticulously

animals. Ultimately, human characters were decided on because the

planned marketing strategy. The animation’s franchise was originally

producers felt they could best describe their intentions and cultural

planned in 2001, two years

background through animated people. With the understanding that this

before Pororo’s first release

might be an obstacle to exporting the film, they created the character

on TV. With the Korean

Pororo. A penguin was chosen in the end because the flightless bird

government star ting to

often does not appear in animation for young kids. Furthermore, Pororo

fully support animation

the Little Penguin became a success because it targeted a niche market

production from 1999, the

and was written to focus on universal themes and cultural similarities

importance of film content

internationally.

grew more scrutinized than

The plan was an immediate hit, and Pororo the Little Penguin was Pororo the Little Penguin

14 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 15


distributed in more than 100 countries, recording respectable viewer ratings of 56 percent in France. The initial planning policy to remove any cultural barriers resulted in an achievement far greater than could have been expected. Soon, as the animation saw explosive popularity among children under five, it was produced for even younger children. Parents especially liked Pororo the Little Penguin because the stories were not overly childish or unrealistic, but reflected everyday life with educational elements blended in. Many agreed that scenes featuring Pororo, Crong, Eddy, Poby, Loopy, Petty, and Harry all getting along with each other did an excellent job of capturing the daily lives of children. Perhaps the most important achievement of all was Pororo’s single-

Larva Link © TUBA n Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

handed ability to be the driving force for the Korean character industry. Larva © TUBA n Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Countless products use Pororo characters including toys, publications, clothing, food, and everyday items. Crossover cooperation with other entertainment areas is also taking place, including performances, theme parks, and games. Pororo is thus one of the most successful cases of how a well-designed animated character can create huge added value. Pororo has certainly played a leading role in opening the door for Korean animators to enter foreign markets, but other great successes have been seen since. The most popular Korean animation abroad today is Larva. Its appeal mainly stems from the constant quarrels between two larvae named Yellow and Red. Although set in New York, Larva highlights the unique Korean concept called jeong (a sense of love and closeness for another person). While mostly unfamiliar to Westerner audiences, jeong lends the show a fresh appeal. TUBA n Co., Ltd. the production studio behind Larva, has been marketing the series and emphasizing its unique merits. The company

16 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 17


distributed in more than 100 countries, recording respectable viewer ratings of 56 percent in France. The initial planning policy to remove any cultural barriers resulted in an achievement far greater than could have been expected. Soon, as the animation saw explosive popularity among children under five, it was produced for even younger children. Parents especially liked Pororo the Little Penguin because the stories were not overly childish or unrealistic, but reflected everyday life with educational elements blended in. Many agreed that scenes featuring Pororo, Crong, Eddy, Poby, Loopy, Petty, and Harry all getting along with each other did an excellent job of capturing the daily lives of children. Perhaps the most important achievement of all was Pororo’s single-

Larva Link © TUBA n Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

handed ability to be the driving force for the Korean character industry. Larva © TUBA n Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Countless products use Pororo characters including toys, publications, clothing, food, and everyday items. Crossover cooperation with other entertainment areas is also taking place, including performances, theme parks, and games. Pororo is thus one of the most successful cases of how a well-designed animated character can create huge added value. Pororo has certainly played a leading role in opening the door for Korean animators to enter foreign markets, but other great successes have been seen since. The most popular Korean animation abroad today is Larva. Its appeal mainly stems from the constant quarrels between two larvae named Yellow and Red. Although set in New York, Larva highlights the unique Korean concept called jeong (a sense of love and closeness for another person). While mostly unfamiliar to Westerner audiences, jeong lends the show a fresh appeal. TUBA n Co., Ltd. the production studio behind Larva, has been marketing the series and emphasizing its unique merits. The company

16 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 17


has concluded export contracts in more than 20 countries in six months. Larva is also proving popular in the merchandised (MD) product market, with talks on licensing agreements ongoing with more than 70 business partners. Including previously released products and those scheduled to be released using Larva characters, the number reaches 700. The mobile game Larva Link has also become a hit, with downloads surpassing the million mark. In 2000, VOOZ, a Korean character brand company, released the character Pucca. The company started with Flash animation and later entered the global market by focusing on licensed character products. With

The Airport Diary 2 © DPS, PINGGO, KTH, KBS All Rights Reserved

an adorable name drawn from the sound a baby makes (“pucca, pucca”), Pucca was originally targeted at overseas markets. Her nationality is

proved popular with children, and each car having distinct characteristics

unclear, but she looks like an Asian girl. Today, the character is so popular

struck a chord with viewers. Another element that made each episode

abroad that Pucca earns 90 percent of its income from outside Korea.

interesting was the highlighting of different jobs.

Due to this burgeoning popularity, a TV series featuring the character was made in conjunction with Disney XD (formerly Jetix) in 2008.

Characters from Robocar Poli enjoy great popularity in the toy market, especially in Chinese-speaking countries. Hong Kong’s Silverlit, a company

Robocar Poli, produced by the Korean company Roi Visual, became

with distribution networks all over China, and Korea’s Academy Plastic

hugely popular like The Little Penguin Pororo. Aired on a Korean TV

Model implemented a planned commercialization of licensed character

channel since 2011, Robocar Poli is aimed at ages 4–6, featuring amazing

products based on Robocar Poli before the animation was released,

cars with the ability to transform. This

which led to even greater success. Silverlit’s Kevin Choi said his intuition

animation did especially well because of

told him that Robocar Poli would become a global hit as soon as he saw

its warm colors and visualized texture.

it, projecting global sales of KRW 500 billion. The animation has been

Pucca © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

The technical prowess of Korean

exported to more than 10 countries, and is used as an icon for traffic safety

animation companies has soared over

campaigns in Korea. Furthermore, the character will also be displayed at

the last decade, and this was critical in

theme parks and kids’ cafes.

the success of Robocar Poli. The story of

MQbig’s Buru & Forest Friends has seen success in European countries

solving problems whenever a crisis occurs

like Denmark, recording average ratings of more than 20 percent. MQbig

18 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 19


has concluded export contracts in more than 20 countries in six months. Larva is also proving popular in the merchandised (MD) product market, with talks on licensing agreements ongoing with more than 70 business partners. Including previously released products and those scheduled to be released using Larva characters, the number reaches 700. The mobile game Larva Link has also become a hit, with downloads surpassing the million mark. In 2000, VOOZ, a Korean character brand company, released the character Pucca. The company started with Flash animation and later entered the global market by focusing on licensed character products. With

The Airport Diary 2 © DPS, PINGGO, KTH, KBS All Rights Reserved

an adorable name drawn from the sound a baby makes (“pucca, pucca”), Pucca was originally targeted at overseas markets. Her nationality is

proved popular with children, and each car having distinct characteristics

unclear, but she looks like an Asian girl. Today, the character is so popular

struck a chord with viewers. Another element that made each episode

abroad that Pucca earns 90 percent of its income from outside Korea.

interesting was the highlighting of different jobs.

Due to this burgeoning popularity, a TV series featuring the character was made in conjunction with Disney XD (formerly Jetix) in 2008.

Characters from Robocar Poli enjoy great popularity in the toy market, especially in Chinese-speaking countries. Hong Kong’s Silverlit, a company

Robocar Poli, produced by the Korean company Roi Visual, became

with distribution networks all over China, and Korea’s Academy Plastic

hugely popular like The Little Penguin Pororo. Aired on a Korean TV

Model implemented a planned commercialization of licensed character

channel since 2011, Robocar Poli is aimed at ages 4–6, featuring amazing

products based on Robocar Poli before the animation was released,

cars with the ability to transform. This

which led to even greater success. Silverlit’s Kevin Choi said his intuition

animation did especially well because of

told him that Robocar Poli would become a global hit as soon as he saw

its warm colors and visualized texture.

it, projecting global sales of KRW 500 billion. The animation has been

Pucca © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

The technical prowess of Korean

exported to more than 10 countries, and is used as an icon for traffic safety

animation companies has soared over

campaigns in Korea. Furthermore, the character will also be displayed at

the last decade, and this was critical in

theme parks and kids’ cafes.

the success of Robocar Poli. The story of

MQbig’s Buru & Forest Friends has seen success in European countries

solving problems whenever a crisis occurs

like Denmark, recording average ratings of more than 20 percent. MQbig

18 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 19


is now developing content characters

animated series, The Airport Diary, has also grown popular in China and

in association with Lego, while also

will soon be exported to Europe, Australia, and Russia.

discussing publication opportunities in Sweden.

Buru & Forest Friends

Many reasons explain the success of Korean animation and their characters in such a short amount of time. One key factor is the Korean

Hello, Jadoo is an animation based

government’s support. This goes back 20 years to 1993, when President

on a cartoon series widely loved for

Kim Young-sam told an official meeting that the box office income of

its everyday girl next-door who does

the movie Jurassic Park equaled the money Hyundai Motor Company

not fit the traditional princess image.

earned by exporting 1.5 million cars. While not an official policy shift, this

It has been especially popular in

represented an important change in Korea’s cultural industry. His words

Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and

were quoted like an epigram in the domestic film sector, which was only

China. The creator of the original

then starting to grow from its nascent stages in the 1980s.

cartoon, Lee Bin, is said to have

This insight eventually led to the establishment of official policies

created Jadoo based on her own

toward culture. To turn culture into a high value-added industry, several

childhood experiences, and this

feature-length animated films were produced in the 1990s, but with

firsthand sensitivity has allowed

little success. This likely had to do with the Korean animation industry’s

Asian children to greatly sympathize

inability to do real planning because of the many years it had worked

with the character.

as a subcontractor for foreign companies, with everything now being

Another animation hit in Asia is

made from scratch. But in the late 1990s, Korean animation started

Backkom. Produced by RG Animation

to show qualitative change. In 1998, President Kim Dae-jung provided

Studio, a company based in Korea’s

concrete policy support for the arts and culture, with a five-year plan

Gyeonggi-do province, Backkom

for the development of the cultural industry (1999–2003) that provided

has contributed a great deal to the

an opportunity to discuss government

Korean Wave in animation. In China,

investment and support for animation.

it grew so popular that it earned the

Results were soon seen with the

affectionate nickname dao mei xiong (“unlucky bear”), as well as enjoying

establishment of Seoul Animation

widespread commercial fame. An animated feature is under production

Center in 1998, the Korea Film

with the title 008 Backkom alongside a Chinese company. Another

Council in 1999, and the Korea Canimal © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

20 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 21


is now developing content characters

animated series, The Airport Diary, has also grown popular in China and

in association with Lego, while also

will soon be exported to Europe, Australia, and Russia.

discussing publication opportunities in Sweden.

Buru & Forest Friends

Many reasons explain the success of Korean animation and their characters in such a short amount of time. One key factor is the Korean

Hello, Jadoo is an animation based

government’s support. This goes back 20 years to 1993, when President

on a cartoon series widely loved for

Kim Young-sam told an official meeting that the box office income of

its everyday girl next-door who does

the movie Jurassic Park equaled the money Hyundai Motor Company

not fit the traditional princess image.

earned by exporting 1.5 million cars. While not an official policy shift, this

It has been especially popular in

represented an important change in Korea’s cultural industry. His words

Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and

were quoted like an epigram in the domestic film sector, which was only

China. The creator of the original

then starting to grow from its nascent stages in the 1980s.

cartoon, Lee Bin, is said to have

This insight eventually led to the establishment of official policies

created Jadoo based on her own

toward culture. To turn culture into a high value-added industry, several

childhood experiences, and this

feature-length animated films were produced in the 1990s, but with

firsthand sensitivity has allowed

little success. This likely had to do with the Korean animation industry’s

Asian children to greatly sympathize

inability to do real planning because of the many years it had worked

with the character.

as a subcontractor for foreign companies, with everything now being

Another animation hit in Asia is

made from scratch. But in the late 1990s, Korean animation started

Backkom. Produced by RG Animation

to show qualitative change. In 1998, President Kim Dae-jung provided

Studio, a company based in Korea’s

concrete policy support for the arts and culture, with a five-year plan

Gyeonggi-do province, Backkom

for the development of the cultural industry (1999–2003) that provided

has contributed a great deal to the

an opportunity to discuss government

Korean Wave in animation. In China,

investment and support for animation.

it grew so popular that it earned the

Results were soon seen with the

affectionate nickname dao mei xiong (“unlucky bear”), as well as enjoying

establishment of Seoul Animation

widespread commercial fame. An animated feature is under production

Center in 1998, the Korea Film

with the title 008 Backkom alongside a Chinese company. Another

Council in 1999, and the Korea Canimal © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

20 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 21


Creative Contents Agency in 2001. Such support began to turn out quality productions. Lee Sung-gang’s My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002), Sung Baek-yeop’s Oseam (2003), Song Geunsik’s Mateo (2004), and Han Hye-jin & Ahn Jae-hun’s Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011) were all made possible thanks to government funding. In TV animation, many works, including Pororo the Little Penguin, were released through the same manner. One measure that directly influenced Korean animation was the 2003 revision of the Broadcasting Act. To give vitality to the Korean animation industry, 1 percent of all broadcast time was mandated for Korean animation on terrestrial TV channels. This led to numerous animation productions on TV. With more than 20 Korean animated films produced a year, a solid foundation for the industry was laid out in Korea. This led the government to later make the contents industry a core part of the creative sector and devise a contents industry promotion plan. By 2017, the government contents fund will be expanded to KRW 1.82 trillion and 23 Korean contents labs will be established. In addition, an Asian CGI creation center will be built in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, by 2015. These and other efforts will ensure Korean animation becomes even more successful in the future.

K-Animation Jointly Produced by Korea and the World

My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)

new animation, which is targeting North America, specifically Canada. The Nut Job is the story of a squirrel and a rat that plan a nut store heist. Targeted toward families and not just children, this co-production between Redrover and ToonBox is in the pre-production phase. ToonBox is leading the project, but utilizing Redrover’s high technology will help complete it as a 3-D film. Canada also has tax laws favorable to production studios, a big advantage for this joint production. With ToonBox also being a North American company, the hiring of people with experience at Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar has become easier. The Nut Job was written by Lorne Cameron, who helped make Brother Bear (2003).

Korean animation is now being co-produced globally. One example is the

Hollywood stars will provide the voices in the film, including Katherine

3-D animated work The Nut Job. After the production company Redrover

Heigl, Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson. With voice acting a huge part of

produced the TV animation Bolts and Blip (2010) with Canada’s ToonBox

marketing animated films, The Nut Job is considered a can’t-miss prospect.

Entertainment, it started work on a new animated feature for movie

Scheduled for release in January 2014, the film will be distributed by Open

theaters. Redrover is working again with ToonBox Entertainment on this

Road Films in North America, while the Weinstein Company will handle

22 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 23


Creative Contents Agency in 2001. Such support began to turn out quality productions. Lee Sung-gang’s My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002), Sung Baek-yeop’s Oseam (2003), Song Geunsik’s Mateo (2004), and Han Hye-jin & Ahn Jae-hun’s Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011) were all made possible thanks to government funding. In TV animation, many works, including Pororo the Little Penguin, were released through the same manner. One measure that directly influenced Korean animation was the 2003 revision of the Broadcasting Act. To give vitality to the Korean animation industry, 1 percent of all broadcast time was mandated for Korean animation on terrestrial TV channels. This led to numerous animation productions on TV. With more than 20 Korean animated films produced a year, a solid foundation for the industry was laid out in Korea. This led the government to later make the contents industry a core part of the creative sector and devise a contents industry promotion plan. By 2017, the government contents fund will be expanded to KRW 1.82 trillion and 23 Korean contents labs will be established. In addition, an Asian CGI creation center will be built in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, by 2015. These and other efforts will ensure Korean animation becomes even more successful in the future.

K-Animation Jointly Produced by Korea and the World

My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)

new animation, which is targeting North America, specifically Canada. The Nut Job is the story of a squirrel and a rat that plan a nut store heist. Targeted toward families and not just children, this co-production between Redrover and ToonBox is in the pre-production phase. ToonBox is leading the project, but utilizing Redrover’s high technology will help complete it as a 3-D film. Canada also has tax laws favorable to production studios, a big advantage for this joint production. With ToonBox also being a North American company, the hiring of people with experience at Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar has become easier. The Nut Job was written by Lorne Cameron, who helped make Brother Bear (2003).

Korean animation is now being co-produced globally. One example is the

Hollywood stars will provide the voices in the film, including Katherine

3-D animated work The Nut Job. After the production company Redrover

Heigl, Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson. With voice acting a huge part of

produced the TV animation Bolts and Blip (2010) with Canada’s ToonBox

marketing animated films, The Nut Job is considered a can’t-miss prospect.

Entertainment, it started work on a new animated feature for movie

Scheduled for release in January 2014, the film will be distributed by Open

theaters. Redrover is working again with ToonBox Entertainment on this

Road Films in North America, while the Weinstein Company will handle

22 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 23


(Left, Right) Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011)

overseas sales. Pi’s Story (2006) is a 3-D animated film jointly produced by Wonderland of the U.S. and DIGIART Production and Effect Digital of Korea. Like Finding Nemo (2003) and Shark Tale (2005), the movie is an underwater adventure for children, and its box office sales overseas of USD 5 million was unprecedented for a Korean animated feature. Pi’s Story was shown in more than 40 countries and a sequel was released in 2012. This work is considered one of the best examples of a Korean animated feature doing well abroad. Korean animation companies also have a number of collaborations with European companies, one of which is BRB International of Spain, an animation production and distribution company. BRB has sales networks not only in Europe but also throughout the Americas, and has co-invested or co-produced with Korean companies since the mid-2000s. This all started with Ion Kid (2006). Developed over six years, this animated action film with robots marked the second Korean animated feature to enter the U.S. market following CUBIX. BRB joined the production of the Backkom

24 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 25


(Left, Right) Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011)

overseas sales. Pi’s Story (2006) is a 3-D animated film jointly produced by Wonderland of the U.S. and DIGIART Production and Effect Digital of Korea. Like Finding Nemo (2003) and Shark Tale (2005), the movie is an underwater adventure for children, and its box office sales overseas of USD 5 million was unprecedented for a Korean animated feature. Pi’s Story was shown in more than 40 countries and a sequel was released in 2012. This work is considered one of the best examples of a Korean animated feature doing well abroad. Korean animation companies also have a number of collaborations with European companies, one of which is BRB International of Spain, an animation production and distribution company. BRB has sales networks not only in Europe but also throughout the Americas, and has co-invested or co-produced with Korean companies since the mid-2000s. This all started with Ion Kid (2006). Developed over six years, this animated action film with robots marked the second Korean animated feature to enter the U.S. market following CUBIX. BRB joined the production of the Backkom

24 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 25


A Short History of Pororo May 2002 Oct. 2002 April 2003 June 2003 July 2003 Nov. 2003 Dec. 2003

Jan. 2004 Sept. 2004 Nov. 2004 Dec. 2004 Jan. 2005 July 2005 Sept. 2005 Oct. 2005 Nov. 2005 Dec. 2005 May 2006

Oct. 2006 Dec. 2006 Dec. 2007 Jan. 2008 May 2009 June 2009

Ocon, Hanaro Telecom (now SK broadband), and Iconix Entertainment sign a joint production contract Contract signed for joint production and airing with Korea’s EBS TV Nominated for three categories at Italy’s Cartoons on the Bay Nominated in the TV series category at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France Nominated in the Film for Children’s category at Brazil’s Anima Mundi Aired on EBS and distribution contract signed with the French channel TF1 Won the Culture and Tourism Minister’s Prize at the Korean Animation Awards Prime Minister’s Prize at the Korea Digital Contents Awards Highest animation ratings in EBS history The first Korean animation aired on France’s largest terrestrial channel TF1 Signed a TV contract with Taiwan’s Eastern TV Culture and Tourism Minister’s Prize for Contributor to Exports Signed sales contracts in Scandinavia and India Exported to China Exported to Singapore’s TV 12, a terrestrial TV channel Exported to 21 countries Season 2 aired on EBS Exported to Japan’s terrestrial channel Fuji TV Won the President’s Prize at the Korea Character Awards Exported to Turkey’s terrestrial channel Kanal 1 Invited to the competitive section of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival Nominated in the Best Animation category at the Asian TV Awards Won the President’s Prize at the Korea Character Awards Won the President’s Prize at the Korea Character Awards Launch of the puppet show Pororo the Little Penguin Season 3 aired on EBS Launch of the musical Pororo and the Chamber of Secrets Exported to 15 Asian countries (via Disney Asia) and Australia (ABC) Signed a partnership agreement for a joint edutainment game development project with Korea’s biggest portal site Naver

26 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Pororo the Little Penguin © ICONIX / OCON / EBS / SKbroadband

Nov. 2009 Dec. 2009 Nov. 2010 Feb. 2011 April 2011 July 2011 Feb. 2012 Jan. 2013

Launch of an online shopping mall (www.pororo.co.kr) Selected as a PR ambassador for Visit Korea Year The special series Dr. Smart Eddy aired on EBS Pororo stamps issued by Korea Post The first Pororo Theme Park opened Official YouTube channel opened Season 4 aired on EBS The movie Pororo, The Racing Adventure is released in Korea and then China

A Friend to Children Everywhere 27


A Short History of Pororo May 2002 Oct. 2002 April 2003 June 2003 July 2003 Nov. 2003 Dec. 2003 Jan. 2004 Sept. 2004 Nov. 2004 Dec. 2004 Jan. 2005 July 2005 Sept. 2005 Oct. 2005 Nov. 2005 Dec. 2005 May 2006 Oct. 2006 Dec. 2006 Dec. 2007 Jan. 2008 May 2009

Ocon, Hanaro Telecom (now SK broadband), and Iconix Entertainment sign a joint production contract Contract signed for joint production and airing with Korea’s EBS TV Nominated for three categories at Italy’s Cartoons on the Bay Nominated in the TV series category at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France Nominated in the Film for Children’s category at Brazil’s Anima Mundi Aired on EBS and distribution contract signed with the French channel TF1 Won the Culture and Tourism Minister’s Prize at the Korean Animation Awards Prime Minister’s Prize at the Korea Digital Contents Awards Highest animation ratings in EBS history The first Korean animation aired on France’s largest terrestrial channel TF1 Signed a TV contract with Taiwan’s Eastern TV Culture and Tourism Minister’s Prize for Contributor to Exports Signed sales contracts in Scandinavia and India Exported to China Exported to Singapore’s TV 12, a terrestrial TV channel Exported to 21 countries Season 2 aired on EBS Exported to Japan’s terrestrial channel Fuji TV Won the President’s Prize at the Korea Character Awards Exported to Turkey’s terrestrial channel Kanal 1 Invited to the competitive section of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival Nominated in the Best Animation category at the Asian TV Awards Won the President’s Prize at the Korea Character Awards Won the President’s Prize at the Korea Character Awards Launch of the puppet show Pororo the Little Penguin Season 3 aired on EBS Launch of the musical Pororo and the Chamber of Secrets

June 2009

Exported to 15 Asian countries (via Disney Asia) and Australia (ABC) Signed a partnership agreement for a joint edutainment game development project with Korea’s biggest portal site Naver

26 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Pororo the Little Penguin © ICONIX / OCON / EBS / SKbroadband

Nov. 2009 Dec. 2009 Nov. 2010 Feb. 2011 April 2011 July 2011 Feb. 2012 Jan. 2013

Launch of an online shopping mall (www.pororo.co.kr) Selected as a PR ambassador for Visit Korea Year The special series Dr. Smart Eddy aired on EBS Pororo stamps issued by Korea Post The first Pororo Theme Park opened Official YouTube channel opened Season 4 aired on EBS The movie Pororo, The Racing Adventure is released in Korea and then China

A Friend to Children Everywhere 27


7Cs © Zagtoon-Method-Man of action-SAMG

series as well. The two companies later

Bread. DPS, a Chuncheon-based animation

jointly produced Kambu (2009) and

company, produced The Airport Diary

Canimal (2011). VOOZCLUB, which earned

(following Cloud Bread) in collaboration

worldwide recognition with Pucca, made

with a Chinese partner. Cloud Bread was

this TV animation together with Adman

originally authored by picture book artist

Studio, which is renowned for claymation,

Baek Hee-na, who was named Illustrator

or clay animation. BRB joined this project

of the Year at the 2005 Bologna Children’s

as co-producer and investor. An animation

Book Fair in Italy. Cloud Bread sold more

for children ages 6–8, Canimal is about

than 400,000 copies worldwide and was

three cats and puppies from a virtual

produced as a musical and TV animation.

world that come to the human world

The animated version started as a Sino-

through a vending machine. Even before

Korean collaboration, which eventually led to

the series debuted, orders for character

The Airport Diary. This film was jointly produced

products came in from 16 countries thanks

by two Korean companies, DPS and KTH, along with China’s Harbin Pinggo

to the successful precedent set by Pucca.

Culture Media Co., Ltd. Its character products and toys are popular in

© MASASHI TANAKA / KODANSHA, DAEWON MEDIA

The Korea Creative Contents Agency

China, as its little passenger planes describe stories of friendship, dreams,

then sponsored the production of 7Cs, a

and adventures. Another example of Sino-Korean cooperation is Ddui

joint work with French companies Method

Ddui Bbang Bbang Rescue Team. The reason Korea and China have been

Animation and Zagtoon, and saw USD 14

so active together has a lot to do with China’s vast market potential. More

million in international box office sales.

recently, the film Mr. Go (2013) was produced under a large-scale joint

7Cs is an action-adventure TV series in

project between Korea and China.

which a brother and sister bring pirate

The TV series Gon was produced by Daewon Media of Korea and based

treasure to their home. All of the pirates

on the Japanese cartoon of the same name. Gon has been exported to

have the letter “C” in their names.

Oceania and India, and is now looking to enter the European market.

The Korean provincial city of Chuncheon

Korea’s advancement from a mere subcontractor to a major player in

has produced many successful animation

global animation can be seen through these and other projects, while its

ventures, and one of the latest is Cloud

character product market is also expanding.

28 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 29


7Cs © Zagtoon-Method-Man of action-SAMG

series as well. The two companies later

Bread. DPS, a Chuncheon-based animation

jointly produced Kambu (2009) and

company, produced The Airport Diary

Canimal (2011). VOOZCLUB, which earned

(following Cloud Bread) in collaboration

worldwide recognition with Pucca, made

with a Chinese partner. Cloud Bread was

this TV animation together with Adman

originally authored by picture book artist

Studio, which is renowned for claymation,

Baek Hee-na, who was named Illustrator

or clay animation. BRB joined this project

of the Year at the 2005 Bologna Children’s

as co-producer and investor. An animation

Book Fair in Italy. Cloud Bread sold more

for children ages 6–8, Canimal is about

than 400,000 copies worldwide and was

three cats and puppies from a virtual

produced as a musical and TV animation.

world that come to the human world

The animated version started as a Sino-

through a vending machine. Even before

Korean collaboration, which eventually led to

the series debuted, orders for character

The Airport Diary. This film was jointly produced

products came in from 16 countries thanks

by two Korean companies, DPS and KTH, along with China’s Harbin Pinggo

to the successful precedent set by Pucca.

Culture Media Co., Ltd. Its character products and toys are popular in

© MASASHI TANAKA / KODANSHA, DAEWON MEDIA

The Korea Creative Contents Agency

China, as its little passenger planes describe stories of friendship, dreams,

then sponsored the production of 7Cs, a

and adventures. Another example of Sino-Korean cooperation is Ddui

joint work with French companies Method

Ddui Bbang Bbang Rescue Team. The reason Korea and China have been

Animation and Zagtoon, and saw USD 14

so active together has a lot to do with China’s vast market potential. More

million in international box office sales.

recently, the film Mr. Go (2013) was produced under a large-scale joint

7Cs is an action-adventure TV series in

project between Korea and China.

which a brother and sister bring pirate

The TV series Gon was produced by Daewon Media of Korea and based

treasure to their home. All of the pirates

on the Japanese cartoon of the same name. Gon has been exported to

have the letter “C” in their names.

Oceania and India, and is now looking to enter the European market.

The Korean provincial city of Chuncheon

Korea’s advancement from a mere subcontractor to a major player in

has produced many successful animation

global animation can be seen through these and other projects, while its

ventures, and one of the latest is Cloud

character product market is also expanding.

28 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

A Friend to Children Everywhere 29


K-Animation’s Strengths So what has made K-Animation so popular in such a short amount of time? People abroad are quick to point out advanced technology and fresh designs. These two qualities are exactly the Canimal

skills that Koreans working in the industry have built on while working as subcontractors over the years. Indeed,

Korean animators have a great deal of experience in outsourced work, and this is what provided the foundation for countless professionals to expand on their initial basic skill sets. These same people developed through a type of “farm system,” rapidly cultivating their abilities on the wings of creativity. Outside of Canada (through the National Film Board) and Korea, it is difficult to name another country where government has played such a proactive role in supporting animation production. In Korea, this has led to scores of people entering the animation industry, with a rich and diverse pool of talent cultivated through extensive training at educational and training institutions around the country. Immensely talented Koreans are now putting out highly creative and top-quality products and being singled out in competitions around the world. Based on this technological prowess, K-Animation has gradually gained world-class competitiveness in character production with a specific design aesthetic that appeals to younger people. The Korean animation market continues to mature, but still provides a good litmus test for movies marketed overseas. So many companies are making cutting-edge IT devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs (as well as software) in Korea, and this has also helped to foster a greater animation market. Also, animation can easily be combined with the gaming market, a helpful

30 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

factor in further enriching the country’s contents. Since 2000, Korean animation has seen greater success aside from the simple, fun and instructive stories that have captivated audiences around the world. Unlike their counterparts in the

© VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

U.S. and Japan, Korean animation captures honest and emotional expressions on screen. This is a positive sign for the industry as a whole, with joint productions with China, Japan and the U.S. going well. O f c o u r s e , p ro b l e m s n e e d t o b e solved and issues need work. Notably, strategies should pursue a universality that appeals to foreign audiences, while at the same time harnessing the unique identity of Korean animation. What is encouraging, however, is that Korean animation enjoys steady growth and is constantly solving industry-related problems. Fresh characters have ceaselessly emerged as the market has expanded since the mid-2000s. And K-animation is only growing faster through a “one source, multi-use” strategy.

A Friend to Children Everywhere 31


K-Animation’s Strengths So what has made K-Animation so popular in such a short amount of time? People abroad are quick to point out advanced technology and fresh designs. These two qualities are exactly the Canimal

skills that Koreans working in the industry have built on while working as subcontractors over the years. Indeed,

Korean animators have a great deal of experience in outsourced work, and this is what provided the foundation for countless professionals to expand on their initial basic skill sets. These same people developed through a type of “farm system,” rapidly cultivating their abilities on the wings of creativity. Outside of Canada (through the National Film Board) and Korea, it is difficult to name another country where government has played such a proactive role in supporting animation production. In Korea, this has led to scores of people entering the animation industry, with a rich and diverse pool of talent cultivated through extensive training at educational and training institutions around the country. Immensely talented Koreans are now putting out highly creative and top-quality products and being singled out in competitions around the world. Based on this technological prowess, K-Animation has gradually gained world-class competitiveness in character production with a specific design aesthetic that appeals to younger people. The Korean animation market continues to mature, but still provides a good litmus test for movies marketed overseas. So many companies are making cutting-edge IT devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs (as well as software) in Korea, and this has also helped to foster a greater animation market. Also, animation can easily be combined with the gaming market, a helpful

30 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

factor in further enriching the country’s contents. Since 2000, Korean animation has seen greater success aside from the simple, fun and instructive stories that have captivated audiences around the world. Unlike their counterparts in the

© VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

U.S. and Japan, Korean animation captures honest and emotional expressions on screen. This is a positive sign for the industry as a whole, with joint productions with China, Japan and the U.S. going well. O f c o u r s e , p ro b l e m s n e e d t o b e solved and issues need work. Notably, strategies should pursue a universality that appeals to foreign audiences, while at the same time harnessing the unique identity of Korean animation. What is encouraging, however, is that Korean animation enjoys steady growth and is constantly solving industry-related problems. Fresh characters have ceaselessly emerged as the market has expanded since the mid-2000s. And K-animation is only growing faster through a “one source, multi-use” strategy.

A Friend to Children Everywhere 31


Chapter Two

The History of K-Animation

Animation Museum Robot Taekwon V

Hany

The Beginning of K-Animation (1960s) Lazy Cat Dinga

The first feature-length Korean animated film was Hong Gil-dong, which was released in 1967. The movie was based on cartoonist Shin Dong-woo’s serialized comic strip Hong Gil-dong the Hero that ran in Kids’ Hankook Ilbo, a newspaper for children. Shin’s older brother Dong-heon, a movie director, then adapted the comic into an animated film. If this period is considered the origin of K-Animation, then the genre’s history is no more than fifty years old. Considering that the history of Korean film spans more than 100 years, Korean animation came quite late to the game. Several animation efforts had been made prior to Hong Gil-dong. The origins of Korean animation can be traced to as far back as the 1930s, surprising as that might be. With the influx of animated works ranging from the likes of Walt Disney shorts to Fleisher Studios’ Betty Boop,

32 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 33


Chapter Two

The History of K-Animation

Animation Museum Robot Taekwon V

Hany

The Beginning of K-Animation (1960s) Lazy Cat Dinga

The first feature-length Korean animated film was Hong Gil-dong, which was released in 1967. The movie was based on cartoonist Shin Dong-woo’s serialized comic strip Hong Gil-dong the Hero that ran in Kids’ Hankook Ilbo, a newspaper for children. Shin’s older brother Dong-heon, a movie director, then adapted the comic into an animated film. If this period is considered the origin of K-Animation, then the genre’s history is no more than fifty years old. Considering that the history of Korean film spans more than 100 years, Korean animation came quite late to the game. Several animation efforts had been made prior to Hong Gil-dong. The origins of Korean animation can be traced to as far back as the 1930s, surprising as that might be. With the influx of animated works ranging from the likes of Walt Disney shorts to Fleisher Studios’ Betty Boop,

32 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 33


Korean filmmakers were stimulated enough to plan an animated work in

His commercial played a key role in introducing Disney-style animation

1936 entitled Gaeggoom, or “Dog Dreams.” This project was recorded as

to Korea. Shin used 24 drawings per second and used pre-recorded

in development by Jeongrim Movie Co., for at that time, the only available

voiceovers, illustrating the characters’ mouths to match the sound. From

animators were not those who had learned animation techniques abroad,

his research on Japanese and American texts on the subject, Shin, the

but had only learned about it through self-study using related materials.

pioneer of early K-Animation, adhered to this method and maintained the

Whether due to limited technical skill or (high) costs, the production of the

same quality with his later works.

film Gaeggoom was cut short after the completion of just 400 feet of film, or only three and a half minutes of running time.

Later animators who went on to play a vital role in K-Animation were able to study commercials from this early period and learn from them.

The Korean film industry went through turbulent times after liberation

Besides Shin Dong-heon and Mun Dal-bu, another person of note was

from Japanese rule and during the Korean War. Having to start over from

Shin Neung-gyun, or more widely known as Nelson Shin. He founded a

scratch in the ruins of the postwar era of the late 1950s, the sector hit a

company specializing in animated commercials, and in 1971, he crossed

plateau for the first time. The same period saw long delays in the opening

over to take part in Hollywood productions.

of Disney films in theaters. Peter Pan was released in 1957 in Korea four

At that time, the environment for producing animation was extremely

years after it was made in 1953, and Cinderella (1950) did not come out

lacking. Due to the difficulty of acquiring celluloid, they would often be

in Korea until 1965. To aspiring animators who lacked suitable learning

wiped clean and reused. In addition, the lone professional-quality camera

materials during that time, the steady release of Western animation acted

was not even authentic but a remodeled version. “At that time, animated

as a textbook.

commercials didn’t do much to contribute to

Commercials in the 1950s and 60s stood out as a great success of

the advancement of Korean animation technique,

K-Animation. A commercial for OB Sinalco (alcohol-free beer) might have

but if there was an upside, it was that I

been an ad, but can also be considered the first Korean animated work.

was able to make a living while

Mun Dal-bu, art director of HLKZ-TV (now KBS), produced the commercial

studying animation,” Nelson

from conceptual art to clean-up alone. In the same vein, he was also

Shin said. Regardless of this

behind the 1959 commercial for Lucky Toothpaste from A to B right up

poor environment, one filmmaker

to filming on his own. In 1960, a Jinro Soju commercial that began to

who saw the Jinro commercial was

pop up in movie theater screens was a huge hit. The commercial can be

convinced that it showed promise and

considered the debut of director Shin Dong-heon; seven years later, he

dove into making Hong Gil-dong.

released the country’s first full-length animated feature Hong Gil-dong.

34 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Dooly the Little Dinosaur

Starting around 1961, animation

The History of K-Animation 35


Korean filmmakers were stimulated enough to plan an animated work in

His commercial played a key role in introducing Disney-style animation

1936 entitled Gaeggoom, or “Dog Dreams.” This project was recorded as

to Korea. Shin used 24 drawings per second and used pre-recorded

in development by Jeongrim Movie Co., for at that time, the only available

voiceovers, illustrating the characters’ mouths to match the sound. From

animators were not those who had learned animation techniques abroad,

his research on Japanese and American texts on the subject, Shin, the

but had only learned about it through self-study using related materials.

pioneer of early K-Animation, adhered to this method and maintained the

Whether due to limited technical skill or (high) costs, the production of the

same quality with his later works.

film Gaeggoom was cut short after the completion of just 400 feet of film, or only three and a half minutes of running time.

Later animators who went on to play a vital role in K-Animation were able to study commercials from this early period and learn from them.

The Korean film industry went through turbulent times after liberation

Besides Shin Dong-heon and Mun Dal-bu, another person of note was

from Japanese rule and during the Korean War. Having to start over from

Shin Neung-gyun, or more widely known as Nelson Shin. He founded a

scratch in the ruins of the postwar era of the late 1950s, the sector hit a

company specializing in animated commercials, and in 1971, he crossed

plateau for the first time. The same period saw long delays in the opening

over to take part in Hollywood productions.

of Disney films in theaters. Peter Pan was released in 1957 in Korea four

At that time, the environment for producing animation was extremely

years after it was made in 1953, and Cinderella (1950) did not come out

lacking. Due to the difficulty of acquiring celluloid, they would often be

in Korea until 1965. To aspiring animators who lacked suitable learning

wiped clean and reused. In addition, the lone professional-quality camera

materials during that time, the steady release of Western animation acted

was not even authentic but a remodeled version. “At that time, animated

as a textbook.

commercials didn’t do much to contribute to

Commercials in the 1950s and 60s stood out as a great success of

the advancement of Korean animation technique,

K-Animation. A commercial for OB Sinalco (alcohol-free beer) might have

but if there was an upside, it was that I

been an ad, but can also be considered the first Korean animated work.

was able to make a living while

Mun Dal-bu, art director of HLKZ-TV (now KBS), produced the commercial

studying animation,” Nelson

from conceptual art to clean-up alone. In the same vein, he was also

Shin said. Regardless of this

behind the 1959 commercial for Lucky Toothpaste from A to B right up

poor environment, one filmmaker

to filming on his own. In 1960, a Jinro Soju commercial that began to

who saw the Jinro commercial was

pop up in movie theater screens was a huge hit. The commercial can be

convinced that it showed promise and

considered the debut of director Shin Dong-heon; seven years later, he

dove into making Hong Gil-dong.

released the country’s first full-length animated feature Hong Gil-dong.

34 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Dooly the Little Dinosaur

Starting around 1961, animation

The History of K-Animation 35


Japan; Korea became the fifth. Considered a “Korean superhero” was the protagonist of the film Hong Gil-dong, Korea’s version of Robin Hood and an original character who was neither an American- or Japanese-style hero. Considering that the animators who worked on this project went on to establish their own productions, the period saw major growth for K-Animation. The release of Hong Gil-dong in 1967 was important because in the same year, Korea’s first stop-motion animation, Heungbu and Nolbu, was released. The film’s director, Kang Tae-woong, had studied puppet animation techniques in Japan, and went on to make the 1978 stopmotion film Kongjwi Patjwi. Hong Gil-dong director Shin Dong-heon, meanwhile, also released in 1967 Hopi and Chadol Bawi, a spinoff of sorts, and featured two characters who appeared in Hong Gil-dong as the Hong Gil-dong and art works (1967)

protagonists. The film was invited to the Teheran Children’s Film Festival in Iran and was released in Thailand, making it the first Korean animated

began to appear as standalone works instead of advertisements. The

feature to be shown overseas.

experimental animated short The Grasshopper and the Ant was made at

Century Co. Ltd, which was responsible for the K-Animation boom at

the National Film Association on 35-millimeter color film with a running

the time, commissioned the Hong Gil-dong series and put director Yong

time of about five minutes. By re-using 240 cells (roughly 10 seconds’

Yu-su in charge of the 1969 sequel, General Hong Gil-dong. The company

worth) it was completed in four months. After the success of this work,

also released Son O-gong in 1968, which left much to be desired in quality

the association produced a series of cultural films to promote national

but made a noteworthy attempt to take on CinemaScope in animation.

policies.

Other early ventures by Century included an adaptation of Robert Lewis

K-Animation reached a turning point with Shin Dong-heon’s Hong Gil-

Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island released in 1969 and Prince Hodong and

dong in 1967. As the first feature-length Korean animated film, the movie

the Princess of Nakrang in 1971. Similar to these works, most animation

finished second in the Korean box office that year and is considered the

produced in this period was based on traditional Korean folktales or

first work of K-Animation. At that time, the only other countries able

acclaimed works of literature, adapting familiar narratives to appeal to a

to produce full-length animation were the U.S., France, Germany, and

wider audience and ensure box office success.

36 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 37


Japan; Korea became the fifth. Considered a “Korean superhero” was the protagonist of the film Hong Gil-dong, Korea’s version of Robin Hood and an original character who was neither an American- or Japanese-style hero. Considering that the animators who worked on this project went on to establish their own productions, the period saw major growth for K-Animation. The release of Hong Gil-dong in 1967 was important because in the same year, Korea’s first stop-motion animation, Heungbu and Nolbu, was released. The film’s director, Kang Tae-woong, had studied puppet animation techniques in Japan, and went on to make the 1978 stopmotion film Kongjwi Patjwi. Hong Gil-dong director Shin Dong-heon, meanwhile, also released in 1967 Hopi and Chadol Bawi, a spinoff of sorts, and featured two characters who appeared in Hong Gil-dong as the Hong Gil-dong and art works (1967)

protagonists. The film was invited to the Teheran Children’s Film Festival in Iran and was released in Thailand, making it the first Korean animated

began to appear as standalone works instead of advertisements. The

feature to be shown overseas.

experimental animated short The Grasshopper and the Ant was made at

Century Co. Ltd, which was responsible for the K-Animation boom at

the National Film Association on 35-millimeter color film with a running

the time, commissioned the Hong Gil-dong series and put director Yong

time of about five minutes. By re-using 240 cells (roughly 10 seconds’

Yu-su in charge of the 1969 sequel, General Hong Gil-dong. The company

worth) it was completed in four months. After the success of this work,

also released Son O-gong in 1968, which left much to be desired in quality

the association produced a series of cultural films to promote national

but made a noteworthy attempt to take on CinemaScope in animation.

policies.

Other early ventures by Century included an adaptation of Robert Lewis

K-Animation reached a turning point with Shin Dong-heon’s Hong Gil-

Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island released in 1969 and Prince Hodong and

dong in 1967. As the first feature-length Korean animated film, the movie

the Princess of Nakrang in 1971. Similar to these works, most animation

finished second in the Korean box office that year and is considered the

produced in this period was based on traditional Korean folktales or

first work of K-Animation. At that time, the only other countries able

acclaimed works of literature, adapting familiar narratives to appeal to a

to produce full-length animation were the U.S., France, Germany, and

wider audience and ensure box office success.

36 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 37


Animation Training Institutes In places like the U.S., Japan, or Europe where the comic and animation industries began to develop early on, lectures and classes on the subject were offered as early as the 1950s. Beginning in the 1970s, universities started to establish departments for comic and animation production. In the U.S., academic-industrial cooperation between Disney and California Institute of the Arts was initiated long ago, England’s Royal College of Art offered master’s and doctoral degrees in animation, and Japan trained professional animators at Kyoto’s Seika University from the 1970s. These were the results of early recognition of how valuable the comics and animation industries were. In effect, Korea was very late in fostering the development of professional animators, as animation departments were formed in universities from the 1990s. The rapid diffusion of the Korean industry, however, played a crucial role later in the growth of K-Animation. The start came at Kongju National University, which in 1991 became the first in Korea to establish an animation department. Each technical

college then founded a two-year degree program in animation. Soonchunhyang University, Sangmyung University, and Sejong University each established a cartoon arts department in 1996, and Korea National University of Arts did the same a year later. Many other colleges and universities followed suit. The government-run Korean Academy of Film Arts started an animation production program in 1999. Animation education in Korea started off with a focus on graphic design, but after growth in the industry took off in the mid-1990s, it was divided into the specialized areas of comics, character design, animation, digital media and illustration. So the opportunities to learn these skills were accessible at community centers and not just confined to official school systems. Then starting in the late 1990s, programs with a diversity of concepts were run at the Seoul Animation Center, university community centers, IT think tanks, cultural centers, and other places. Through art classes or extracurricular activities in middle and high school, interest in animation was able to spread much further. Korea has about 140 colleges and universities with animation departments, comprising roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total. About 50 schools have departments of character development and 20 have classes teaching cartooning. Through these institutions, the number of professional animators being produced is creating a competitive market, and those with a fair share of talent are continuously producing new contents.

38 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 39


Animation Training Institutes In places like the U.S., Japan, or Europe where the comic and animation industries began to develop early on, lectures and classes on the subject were offered as early as the 1950s. Beginning in the 1970s, universities started to establish departments for comic and animation production. In the U.S., academic-industrial cooperation between Disney and California Institute of the Arts was initiated long ago, England’s Royal College of Art offered master’s and doctoral degrees in animation, and Japan trained professional animators at Kyoto’s Seika University from the 1970s. These were the results of early recognition of how valuable the comics and animation industries were. In effect, Korea was very late in fostering the development of professional animators, as animation departments were formed in universities from the 1990s. The rapid diffusion of the Korean industry, however, played a crucial role later in the growth of K-Animation. The start came at Kongju National University, which in 1991 became the first in Korea to establish an animation department. Each technical

college then founded a two-year degree program in animation. Soonchunhyang University, Sangmyung University, and Sejong University each established a cartoon arts department in 1996, and Korea National University of Arts did the same a year later. Many other colleges and universities followed suit. The government-run Korean Academy of Film Arts started an animation production program in 1999. Animation education in Korea started off with a focus on graphic design, but after growth in the industry took off in the mid-1990s, it was divided into the specialized areas of comics, character design, animation, digital media and illustration. So the opportunities to learn these skills were accessible at community centers and not just confined to official school systems. Then starting in the late 1990s, programs with a diversity of concepts were run at the Seoul Animation Center, university community centers, IT think tanks, cultural centers, and other places. Through art classes or extracurricular activities in middle and high school, interest in animation was able to spread much further. Korea has about 140 colleges and universities with animation departments, comprising roughly 40 percent of the nation’s total. About 50 schools have departments of character development and 20 have classes teaching cartooning. Through these institutions, the number of professional animators being produced is creating a competitive market, and those with a fair share of talent are continuously producing new contents.

38 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 39


Robot Taekwon V (2007, restored version)

Sci-fi Animation Boom (1970s) When it comes to K-Animation, Robot Taekwon V (1976) is considered one of the giants of the genre. Although the industry got started in the late 1960s, several factors such as conflict between production companies and directors and the influence of Japanese animation being broadcast on TV sent the industry into decline. This slump was so severe that the industry essentially shut down during the four years after the 1972 release of War of the Monsters. The work that would reboot the industry was Robot Taekwon V, the release of which sustained a boom in sci-fi animation that continued until 1984. Deeply impressed with Disney’s works in the 1960s, director Kim Cheong-gi, who had dreamed of creating full-length animated films, decided to push forward with what he called the Korean Megabot Animation Project. Through his exhaustive efforts, he procured the budget to make the film, but faced a fundamental problem: creating a work that would not stand in the shadow of the Japanese animated classic Mazinger Z. Kim was well aware of this and created a fusion of mecha using Korean concepts like Taekwondo-based action and getting the inspiration for Taekwon V’s head from the statue of legendary naval hero Yi Sun-sin. Kim also included Korean traditional instruments in making the sound effects, such as the jing (gong) and ajaeng (Korean traditional seven-string instrument). His strategy worked as the blockbuster film came in second for the year at the box office and became the nation’s biggest animated hit since Hong Gil-dong. The influence of Robot Taekwon V was enormous. Reinvigorated by the success of the film, the once-stagnant Korean film industry began to see a greater market for children’s animation, with feature films also

40 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 41


Robot Taekwon V (2007, restored version)

Sci-fi Animation Boom (1970s) When it comes to K-Animation, Robot Taekwon V (1976) is considered one of the giants of the genre. Although the industry got started in the late 1960s, several factors such as conflict between production companies and directors and the influence of Japanese animation being broadcast on TV sent the industry into decline. This slump was so severe that the industry essentially shut down during the four years after the 1972 release of War of the Monsters. The work that would reboot the industry was Robot Taekwon V, the release of which sustained a boom in sci-fi animation that continued until 1984. Deeply impressed with Disney’s works in the 1960s, director Kim Cheong-gi, who had dreamed of creating full-length animated films, decided to push forward with what he called the Korean Megabot Animation Project. Through his exhaustive efforts, he procured the budget to make the film, but faced a fundamental problem: creating a work that would not stand in the shadow of the Japanese animated classic Mazinger Z. Kim was well aware of this and created a fusion of mecha using Korean concepts like Taekwondo-based action and getting the inspiration for Taekwon V’s head from the statue of legendary naval hero Yi Sun-sin. Kim also included Korean traditional instruments in making the sound effects, such as the jing (gong) and ajaeng (Korean traditional seven-string instrument). His strategy worked as the blockbuster film came in second for the year at the box office and became the nation’s biggest animated hit since Hong Gil-dong. The influence of Robot Taekwon V was enormous. Reinvigorated by the success of the film, the once-stagnant Korean film industry began to see a greater market for children’s animation, with feature films also

40 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 41


following suit. Companies thus began to put out more child-friendly

drama Maruchi Arachi into a feature animation, and like Robot Taekwon

movies. These trends brought about the golden age of children’s films,

V, Lim’s film contained Taekwondo-based action with the “Taekwondo

and animation was recognized as a commercially viable genre. Robot

Kids” Maruchi and Arachi, standing up to evil. Taekwon Dongja Maruchi

Taekwon V was the first K-Animation film to tap the possibilities of tie-ins

Arachi was a box office hit, ranking third that year and spawning a sequel

with other markets as well. For one, the movie’s theme song was incredibly

released the following winter called Electronic Man 337 (1977). Then in

popular and packaged with hits from other animated works on one

1978, the revival of claymation came about with the release of Kongjwi

album, which also proved popular. Robot Taekwon V also led to a surge

Patjwi, a continuation of the 1967 film Heungbu and Nolbu. Children’s

in animated films released around vacation time. Having exploded onto

book author Bang Jeong-hwan had his work adapted to the radio series

theaters in the summer of 1976, the film prompted four other animated

77 Group’s Secret (1978), which attempted to branch out from the sci-fi-

films released the following winter vacation. Until the early 1980s, every

centered genre of that period. Bang’s work took on nationalistic overtones,

vacation period was high season for K-Animation. The success of Robot

being set in the Japanese colonial era and featuring a figure in a black

Taekwon V also launched the tradition of the animated series, and seven

mask who struck terror in the hearts of the Japanese.

movies in the Taekwon V series were released by 1990. The master film

The year 1979, which was designated “International Year of the Child”

of Robot Taekwon V was thought to be lost but was discovered 27 years

by the United Nations, saw nine animated films released in the summer

later in 2003. In 2007, the movie was re-released in theaters in a digitally

in Korea to commemorate the occasion but with little or no qualitative

remastered format.

improvement. Despite this, the “Dreamland Cartoon Theater” series

Another leading animated work from the 1970s was Taekwon dongja

by Sunwoo Entertainment deserves mention. The Three Musketeers

Maruchi Arachi (1977). Director Lim Jung-kyu adapted MBC’s ongoing radio

of Starland (1979) was met with a warm reception as a sci-fi animated

Robot Taekwon V (2007, restored version)

42 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 43


following suit. Companies thus began to put out more child-friendly

drama Maruchi Arachi into a feature animation, and like Robot Taekwon

movies. These trends brought about the golden age of children’s films,

V, Lim’s film contained Taekwondo-based action with the “Taekwondo

and animation was recognized as a commercially viable genre. Robot

Kids” Maruchi and Arachi, standing up to evil. Taekwon Dongja Maruchi

Taekwon V was the first K-Animation film to tap the possibilities of tie-ins

Arachi was a box office hit, ranking third that year and spawning a sequel

with other markets as well. For one, the movie’s theme song was incredibly

released the following winter called Electronic Man 337 (1977). Then in

popular and packaged with hits from other animated works on one

1978, the revival of claymation came about with the release of Kongjwi

album, which also proved popular. Robot Taekwon V also led to a surge

Patjwi, a continuation of the 1967 film Heungbu and Nolbu. Children’s

in animated films released around vacation time. Having exploded onto

book author Bang Jeong-hwan had his work adapted to the radio series

theaters in the summer of 1976, the film prompted four other animated

77 Group’s Secret (1978), which attempted to branch out from the sci-fi-

films released the following winter vacation. Until the early 1980s, every

centered genre of that period. Bang’s work took on nationalistic overtones,

vacation period was high season for K-Animation. The success of Robot

being set in the Japanese colonial era and featuring a figure in a black

Taekwon V also launched the tradition of the animated series, and seven

mask who struck terror in the hearts of the Japanese.

movies in the Taekwon V series were released by 1990. The master film

The year 1979, which was designated “International Year of the Child”

of Robot Taekwon V was thought to be lost but was discovered 27 years

by the United Nations, saw nine animated films released in the summer

later in 2003. In 2007, the movie was re-released in theaters in a digitally

in Korea to commemorate the occasion but with little or no qualitative

remastered format.

improvement. Despite this, the “Dreamland Cartoon Theater” series

Another leading animated work from the 1970s was Taekwon dongja

by Sunwoo Entertainment deserves mention. The Three Musketeers

Maruchi Arachi (1977). Director Lim Jung-kyu adapted MBC’s ongoing radio

of Starland (1979) was met with a warm reception as a sci-fi animated

Robot Taekwon V (2007, restored version)

42 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 43


feature that did not feature robots. Its sequel, The Three Musketeers: Time Machine 001 (1980), also saw success. The series continued with 15 Children’s Space Adventure (1980), an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel Two Years’ Vacation, and the final part in the series, 3,000 Leagues in Search of Mother (1981). The greatest success of this series, however, was that it helped blaze the trail for future projects in being released overseas. By breaking free from the convention of robot-centered animation and creating quality work that combined animation with unique lyricism, Korean animation not only broke through the Japanese market, which was then hailed as more advanced in the field, but the international arena as well.

(Left) Materials related to commercials from the 1960s: film and drawings (Right) An action figure from The Golden Bat

department began receiving orders from the U.S. Established in 1973,

Light and Shade in OEM Animation

Universal Arts started doing subcontracted work, and soon many other

Subcontracted animation work is a symbol of the light and shadow in the

production studios specializing in subcontracting appeared in Korea. By

history of Korean animation. Numerous animators were trained through

the late 1970s, Korean companies were able to handle the entire process

subcontracted animation productions. At one time, Korea was the world’s

of production, minus the creative side. When it came to subcontracted

No. 3 producer of subcontract sales in animation. In the past, 90 percent of

animation, the 1980s was a golden age for Korean animation despite the

exports by the Korean animation industry were international subcontracted

worsening situation for Korean films.

projects that were top-quality products done quickly. A major down side to this, however, was a lack of creativity that haunted Korean animation for a long time.

Animation subcontracting was also providing energy to the lackluster Korean film industry. K-Animation peaked in 1981, when the industry’s growth skyrocketed

The animation department of Tongyang Broadcasting Company (TBC)

265 percent over the previous year. From that time forward, growth slowly

offered the first subcontracted animation in Korea. Although nominally

decreased but even until 1988, it was as high as 136 percent a year. Nelson

joint projects, the productions included basic, repetitive work vis-a-

Shin’s Akom Production, Daewon Animation (now Daewon Media), and

vis moving images, coloring and backgrounds. In those days, popular

Hanho Heung-Up Company even received the Ten Million Dollar Export

programs such as TBC’s The Golden Bat and Ghost Man were all made

Tower from the Korean government, an economic milestone. From the

through subcontracts for Japanese companies. Later, TBC’s animation

1990s, however, subcontracting in Korea rapidly decreased with the

44 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 45


feature that did not feature robots. Its sequel, The Three Musketeers: Time Machine 001 (1980), also saw success. The series continued with 15 Children’s Space Adventure (1980), an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel Two Years’ Vacation, and the final part in the series, 3,000 Leagues in Search of Mother (1981). The greatest success of this series, however, was that it helped blaze the trail for future projects in being released overseas. By breaking free from the convention of robot-centered animation and creating quality work that combined animation with unique lyricism, Korean animation not only broke through the Japanese market, which was then hailed as more advanced in the field, but the international arena as well.

(Left) Materials related to commercials from the 1960s: film and drawings (Right) An action figure from The Golden Bat

department began receiving orders from the U.S. Established in 1973,

Light and Shade in OEM Animation

Universal Arts started doing subcontracted work, and soon many other

Subcontracted animation work is a symbol of the light and shadow in the

production studios specializing in subcontracting appeared in Korea. By

history of Korean animation. Numerous animators were trained through

the late 1970s, Korean companies were able to handle the entire process

subcontracted animation productions. At one time, Korea was the world’s

of production, minus the creative side. When it came to subcontracted

No. 3 producer of subcontract sales in animation. In the past, 90 percent of

animation, the 1980s was a golden age for Korean animation despite the

exports by the Korean animation industry were international subcontracted

worsening situation for Korean films.

projects that were top-quality products done quickly. A major down side to this, however, was a lack of creativity that haunted Korean animation for a long time.

Animation subcontracting was also providing energy to the lackluster Korean film industry. K-Animation peaked in 1981, when the industry’s growth skyrocketed

The animation department of Tongyang Broadcasting Company (TBC)

265 percent over the previous year. From that time forward, growth slowly

offered the first subcontracted animation in Korea. Although nominally

decreased but even until 1988, it was as high as 136 percent a year. Nelson

joint projects, the productions included basic, repetitive work vis-a-

Shin’s Akom Production, Daewon Animation (now Daewon Media), and

vis moving images, coloring and backgrounds. In those days, popular

Hanho Heung-Up Company even received the Ten Million Dollar Export

programs such as TBC’s The Golden Bat and Ghost Man were all made

Tower from the Korean government, an economic milestone. From the

through subcontracts for Japanese companies. Later, TBC’s animation

1990s, however, subcontracting in Korea rapidly decreased with the

44 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 45


Rediscovery of Robot Taekwon V

emergence of China and Southeast Asia as subcontractors. So how did Korean animation under subcontracting in the 1970s and 80s influence the industry? Was the influence positive in that it sustained the industry itself? Or was it

Dr. Kim

negative in that Korean animators were frustrated over lack of opportunities to express their creativity? Most agree that the latter is true because animation subcontracting, which is generally simple and repetitive, fundamentally made it difficult to create much added value. Looking at Hong Gil-dong (1967),

Mary

a great creative effort made at a time of poor creativity, it seems wrong for Korean animators to have later depended so heavily on subcontracting for work. As a result, when the quantity of subcontracted work decreased, Korean animation faced a huge vacuum

Kangtong Robot

of business in the 1990s. It was only in the 21st century that the industry began to grow again slowly.

Duncan

46 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Robot Taekwon V was an unprecedented hit in the 1970s, but in the succeeding decade, seeing the film again in theaters was impossible. This was because the master film was lost in transit while being exported to the U.S. When making the film, no animation cells were used because of their high cost, so cells were instead reused over and over again. So the defining work of K-Animation was considered lost to the ages and unavoidably became no more than a legend. But then something surprising happened. In April 2003, dupe negatives of the original film were discovered at the Korean Film Council’s storage area. The council took up the task of restoring the film. First the overall state of the film was checked, then after determining the potential for restoration, a test recovery was run. Being left alone for such a long time, the dupe negatives had so many scratches and debris that the restoration was conducted one frame at a time. This job required many committed staff with an enormous amount of patience. Missing the frames from the opening and closing scenes, they resorted to inquiring around and acquiring different prints to stick in. The production period stretched on, and finally after 72 staff members worked on the project for two years at a budget of KRW 1 billion, Robot Taekwon V was resurrected. With digital remastering, the colors and movements were far superior to the original. Completed September 10, 2005, it was screened in 2006. Reunited with Taekwon V after 30 years, Robot Taekwon V was reborn and went down as Korean Film Restoration Project No. 1. In January 2007, the film was re-released in theaters and did surprisingly well at the box office. With 700,000 tickets sold domestically, it became the highest grossing Korean animated film of all time. Those who had viewed the film in their youth took their children to theaters to see it. With the resurrection of Robot Taekwon V came the establishment of Robot Taekwon V Corporation, the Ministry of Commerce’s “Korean Robot ID Card,” and expansion into new markets like toys and publishing. A robot character from the past has become a source of an inexhaustible supply of cultural contents. A live-action film of Taekwon V, is also in the development phase. Taekwon V


Rediscovery of Robot Taekwon V

emergence of China and Southeast Asia as subcontractors. So how did Korean animation under subcontracting in the 1970s and 80s influence the industry? Was the influence positive in that it sustained the industry itself? Or was it

Dr. Kim

negative in that Korean animators were frustrated over lack of opportunities to express their creativity? Most agree that the latter is true because animation subcontracting, which is generally simple and repetitive, fundamentally made it difficult to create much added value. Looking at Hong Gil-dong (1967),

Mary

a great creative effort made at a time of poor creativity, it seems wrong for Korean animators to have later depended so heavily on subcontracting for work. As a result, when the quantity of subcontracted work decreased, Korean animation faced a huge vacuum

Kangtong Robot

of business in the 1990s. It was only in the 21st century that the industry began to grow again slowly.

Duncan

46 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Robot Taekwon V was an unprecedented hit in the 1970s, but in the succeeding decade, seeing the film again in theaters was impossible. This was because the master film was lost in transit while being exported to the U.S. When making the film, no animation cells were used because of their high cost, so cells were instead reused over and over again. So the defining work of K-Animation was considered lost to the ages and unavoidably became no more than a legend. But then something surprising happened. In April 2003, dupe negatives of the original film were discovered at the Korean Film Council’s storage area. The council took up the task of restoring the film. First the overall state of the film was checked, then after determining the potential for restoration, a test recovery was run. Being left alone for such a long time, the dupe negatives had so many scratches and debris that the restoration was conducted one frame at a time. This job required many committed staff with an enormous amount of patience. Missing the frames from the opening and closing scenes, they resorted to inquiring around and acquiring different prints to stick in. The production period stretched on, and finally after 72 staff members worked on the project for two years at a budget of KRW 1 billion, Robot Taekwon V was resurrected. With digital remastering, the colors and movements were far superior to the original. Completed September 10, 2005, it was screened in 2006. Reunited with Taekwon V after 30 years, Robot Taekwon V was reborn and went down as Korean Film Restoration Project No. 1. In January 2007, the film was re-released in theaters and did surprisingly well at the box office. With 700,000 tickets sold domestically, it became the highest grossing Korean animated film of all time. Those who had viewed the film in their youth took their children to theaters to see it. With the resurrection of Robot Taekwon V came the establishment of Robot Taekwon V Corporation, the Ministry of Commerce’s “Korean Robot ID Card,” and expansion into new markets like toys and publishing. A robot character from the past has become a source of an inexhaustible supply of cultural contents. A live-action film of Taekwon V, is also in the development phase. Taekwon V


Overcoming Stagnation and Rising Anew (1980s–90s) While the 1960s officially marked the beginning of K-Animation and the 70s saw significant advancement in the field, the 80s saw stagnation in the sector for a number of reasons. For starters, societal attitudes toward animation quickly turned sour as a new military government imposed severe sanctions on sci-fi animation through fear mongering, claiming that animation had a negative impact on children. While these factors weighed in on the stagnation of K-Animation’s popularity, perhaps the biggest factor was the introduction of the color TV. Animation had enjoyed relatively high popularity in the age of black-and-white TV, offering color versions of what was shown on black-and-white screens, and this was enough to bring in revenue at the box office. With the start of the color TV age, however, those good days were gone. Another blow to Korean animation was the VCR, and animated works from the U.S. and Japan were soon being released in this format. The new era meant there was no longer the need to go to theaters to watch animation. This period saw creativity dry up and stagnation set in. The 1983 film version of Lee Sang-mu’s Dokgo Tak: Throw toward the Sun was considered the lone exceptional work in this time. The same can be said of The Golden Arm, which was released the same year as Korea’s first animated movie about sports, but this can also be seen as a by-product of the founding of Korea’s first pro baseball league the previous year. Animation ultimately pulled out of its slump, however, thanks to the change in TV animation acting as a springboard. A major factor in this trend was the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Amid a movement to establish a unified national and ethnic identity, state-run broadcast networks sought

48 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

to create homegrown animated productions. The first two were aired on Children’s Day (May 5) in 1987: Kkachi the Wanderer (KBS) and Go on Running, Hodori (MBC). The former was a one-act story based on a character from a work by Lee Hyun-sae, one of Korea’s most popular contemporary cartoonists of the time, and the latter had as the mascot of the Seoul Olympics, Hodori, as its protagonist. Though both were well received by both the

Dokgo Tak: Chorus of Doves © Lee Sang Moo / DAEWON MEDIA

media and public, the problem was production costs. At the time, an imported animated work that ran for 30 minutes cost on average USD 1,500, whereas a self-produced piece went for USD 62,500. Under these circumstances, the need to target foreign markets was recognized, so as Kkachi the Wanderer was exported to Germany, Thailand, Taiwan and other countries, the early 1990s saw the start of revitalized exports of Korean TV animation. Many animated works on Korean TV were adapted from the works of famous cartoonists, but one of the most popular was Dooly the Little Dinosaur (KBS), an adaptation of Kim Soo-jung’s original work first shown in 1988. Next was an adaptation of cartoonist Lee Sang-mu’s Dokgo Tak: Chorus of Doves that aired on MBC the same year. The 1970 animated film

The History of K-Animation 49


Overcoming Stagnation and Rising Anew (1980s–90s) While the 1960s officially marked the beginning of K-Animation and the 70s saw significant advancement in the field, the 80s saw stagnation in the sector for a number of reasons. For starters, societal attitudes toward animation quickly turned sour as a new military government imposed severe sanctions on sci-fi animation through fear mongering, claiming that animation had a negative impact on children. While these factors weighed in on the stagnation of K-Animation’s popularity, perhaps the biggest factor was the introduction of the color TV. Animation had enjoyed relatively high popularity in the age of black-and-white TV, offering color versions of what was shown on black-and-white screens, and this was enough to bring in revenue at the box office. With the start of the color TV age, however, those good days were gone. Another blow to Korean animation was the VCR, and animated works from the U.S. and Japan were soon being released in this format. The new era meant there was no longer the need to go to theaters to watch animation. This period saw creativity dry up and stagnation set in. The 1983 film version of Lee Sang-mu’s Dokgo Tak: Throw toward the Sun was considered the lone exceptional work in this time. The same can be said of The Golden Arm, which was released the same year as Korea’s first animated movie about sports, but this can also be seen as a by-product of the founding of Korea’s first pro baseball league the previous year. Animation ultimately pulled out of its slump, however, thanks to the change in TV animation acting as a springboard. A major factor in this trend was the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Amid a movement to establish a unified national and ethnic identity, state-run broadcast networks sought

48 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

to create homegrown animated productions. The first two were aired on Children’s Day (May 5) in 1987: Kkachi the Wanderer (KBS) and Go on Running, Hodori (MBC). The former was a one-act story based on a character from a work by Lee Hyun-sae, one of Korea’s most popular contemporary cartoonists of the time, and the latter had as the mascot of the Seoul Olympics, Hodori, as its protagonist. Though both were well received by both the

Dokgo Tak: Chorus of Doves © Lee Sang Moo / DAEWON MEDIA

media and public, the problem was production costs. At the time, an imported animated work that ran for 30 minutes cost on average USD 1,500, whereas a self-produced piece went for USD 62,500. Under these circumstances, the need to target foreign markets was recognized, so as Kkachi the Wanderer was exported to Germany, Thailand, Taiwan and other countries, the early 1990s saw the start of revitalized exports of Korean TV animation. Many animated works on Korean TV were adapted from the works of famous cartoonists, but one of the most popular was Dooly the Little Dinosaur (KBS), an adaptation of Kim Soo-jung’s original work first shown in 1988. Next was an adaptation of cartoonist Lee Sang-mu’s Dokgo Tak: Chorus of Doves that aired on MBC the same year. The 1970 animated film

The History of K-Animation 49


country’s first animated series produced with the idea of several seasons. Fly! Superboard! was so well received that for a time, it even topped overall TV ratings. Putting its own spin on China’s Journey to the West with entertaining characters, Fly! Superboard! was the most popular animated export from Korea in the early 1990s along with Run Hany. In 1995, with the age of cable TV coming in, channels devoted solely to animation were also introduced. One such channel, Tooniverse, commissioned a series in 1997 called Soul Frame LAZENCA. With a production budget of KRW 2 billion, which was considered exorbitant at the time, this series became one of the most famous in mecha sci-fi, even getting the Korean rock group NEXT to compose the theme song “LAZENCA, Cheonbangjichuk Hany © LEE JIN JOO / KBS / DAEWON MEDIA

Save Us”. While short-lived, animation on video cassette enjoyed considerable success from the late 1990s with original video animation

Maruchi Arachi was also resurrected in TV format under the title Taekwon

(OVA) at its center. A prominent figure in adult cartoons, Yang Young-soon

Kid Maruchi (1988). But arguably, the work that played the most definitive

scored a huge hit with Nudl Nude, with the first part released in 1998 and

role in this period was an adaptation of Lee Doo-ho’s Meoteol Dosa (MBC,

the second in 1999. The acclaimed adult cartoon Goindol was also made

1989), a cartoon re-telling of a Korean traditional folktale. With the warm

into an OVA in 2000. From that point on, OVAs became a format mostly for

reception for its initial airing, sequels soon followed: Meoteol Dosa and

adult content but with the decline of video rental stores, they too faded

the 108 Goblins (MBC, 1990), Meoteol Dosa and Ttomae (MBC, 1990) and

away.

others. These demonstrated the potential of K-Animation on TV.

With TV animation making a great stride forward, theatrical animation

Another notable success from this period was Run Hany (KBS, 1989).

was beginning to slowly wane. But one animated feature attracted extra

An adaptation of Lee Jin-ju’s comic of the same name, the series was aired

attention: Lotti’s Adventure (1990). Sales of the movie exceeded USD

once a week in being the first animated series produced wholly in Korea.

30,000 in the Cannes Film Festival. The film was also the first feature-

A feverish success, Run Hany spurred the sequel Cheonbangjichuk Hany

length movie in Korea made in full animation with more than 10 fps, and

(KBS, 1989). A milestone work from this period was also Fly! Superboard!

the nation’s first to be shown at IMAX theaters and in Dolby Surround

(KBS, 1990), a TV adaptation of Huh Young-man’s original comic. It first

sound.

aired in 1990 and was renewed for two more seasons, becoming the

50 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The most important factor that kept feature-length animated films alive

The History of K-Animation 51


country’s first animated series produced with the idea of several seasons. Fly! Superboard! was so well received that for a time, it even topped overall TV ratings. Putting its own spin on China’s Journey to the West with entertaining characters, Fly! Superboard! was the most popular animated export from Korea in the early 1990s along with Run Hany. In 1995, with the age of cable TV coming in, channels devoted solely to animation were also introduced. One such channel, Tooniverse, commissioned a series in 1997 called Soul Frame LAZENCA. With a production budget of KRW 2 billion, which was considered exorbitant at the time, this series became one of the most famous in mecha sci-fi, even getting the Korean rock group NEXT to compose the theme song “LAZENCA, Cheonbangjichuk Hany © LEE JIN JOO / KBS / DAEWON MEDIA

Save Us”. While short-lived, animation on video cassette enjoyed considerable success from the late 1990s with original video animation

Maruchi Arachi was also resurrected in TV format under the title Taekwon

(OVA) at its center. A prominent figure in adult cartoons, Yang Young-soon

Kid Maruchi (1988). But arguably, the work that played the most definitive

scored a huge hit with Nudl Nude, with the first part released in 1998 and

role in this period was an adaptation of Lee Doo-ho’s Meoteol Dosa (MBC,

the second in 1999. The acclaimed adult cartoon Goindol was also made

1989), a cartoon re-telling of a Korean traditional folktale. With the warm

into an OVA in 2000. From that point on, OVAs became a format mostly for

reception for its initial airing, sequels soon followed: Meoteol Dosa and

adult content but with the decline of video rental stores, they too faded

the 108 Goblins (MBC, 1990), Meoteol Dosa and Ttomae (MBC, 1990) and

away.

others. These demonstrated the potential of K-Animation on TV.

With TV animation making a great stride forward, theatrical animation

Another notable success from this period was Run Hany (KBS, 1989).

was beginning to slowly wane. But one animated feature attracted extra

An adaptation of Lee Jin-ju’s comic of the same name, the series was aired

attention: Lotti’s Adventure (1990). Sales of the movie exceeded USD

once a week in being the first animated series produced wholly in Korea.

30,000 in the Cannes Film Festival. The film was also the first feature-

A feverish success, Run Hany spurred the sequel Cheonbangjichuk Hany

length movie in Korea made in full animation with more than 10 fps, and

(KBS, 1989). A milestone work from this period was also Fly! Superboard!

the nation’s first to be shown at IMAX theaters and in Dolby Surround

(KBS, 1990), a TV adaptation of Huh Young-man’s original comic. It first

sound.

aired in 1990 and was renewed for two more seasons, becoming the

50 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The most important factor that kept feature-length animated films alive

The History of K-Animation 51


was a change in public perception toward the genre. In the 1980s, the general attitude was that animation could harm a child’s psyche, while in the 1990s, it was seen more as a different form of content from an industry viewpoint. The Korean government devised several support plans for animation, and universities formed animation departments. Several film festivals specializing in animation were also made. Given all of these new developments, several attempts were made at exploring new genres through animation. One good example of this is the 1994 adult movie Blue

Young-Shim © 1990 GumTaek Bae / KBS / DAEWON MEDIA

Seagull (1994). Despite the questionable quality of the film, its success at the box office demonstrated that the public’s interest in animation had

K-Animation. In this aspect Dooly the Little Dinosaur: Ice Planet Adventure

increased significantly.

was an exception. Adapted from the TV series, Dooly the Little Dinosau

This interest led to animations in a variety of genres. Director Shin Dong-

enjoyed a well-received theatrical debut thanks to a fresh storyline that

heon, who helped launch K-Animation with his 1967 film Hong Gil-dong,

had no relation to the original series. A new spin was also put on the

enjoyed great success with Return of the Hero Hong Gil-dong in 1995. The

characters, showing a flexibility not seen before.

same year also saw the release of Red Hawk: Weapon of Death, a martial

K-Animation was raised to another level with films such as The War

arts animation, and the basketball feature Hungry Best 5, a contender in

Diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin (1997), a film about the legendary naval hero;

the sports genre.

The Last Warrior Ryan (1997), a futuristic sci-fi feature; and The King of

Among these bold ventures into previously unvisited genres, two in

Kings: Jesus (1998), a film set in a biblical setting. Perhaps the peak of

particular held much significance from 1996. Cartoonist Lee Hyun-sae

this movement occurred with Grandma and Her Ghosts (1998). This film

took up the mantle as both producer and director in the animated film

adhered to traditional methods of animation and also reinforced the idea

adaptation of his own work Armageddon, a blockbuster with a budget

that the storyline should be the main element in an animated film. The

of KRW 2.1 billion, an enormous sum at the time. With the exception of

studio’s collaboration with Taiwan also helped to expand the film’s market

sound production, all production was done by Korean staff, including one

reach. In 1999, the 100-percent CGI movie The Steel Force was released,

of the early forays into computer generated images, or CGI. Armageddon,

just four years behind the Pixar blockbuster Toy Story (1995). This made

however, suffered from the same fatal flaw that plagued other K-Animation

Korea the second nation to make a full-length animated film all in CGI.

features at theaters at the time: a weak plot. This was because up until

Japan was third with the 2000 film Alice, followed by the U.K. with Valiant

that point, no systematic approach existed for making storylines for

in 2005 and Thailand with Khan Kluay in 2006.

52 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 53


was a change in public perception toward the genre. In the 1980s, the general attitude was that animation could harm a child’s psyche, while in the 1990s, it was seen more as a different form of content from an industry viewpoint. The Korean government devised several support plans for animation, and universities formed animation departments. Several film festivals specializing in animation were also made. Given all of these new developments, several attempts were made at exploring new genres through animation. One good example of this is the 1994 adult movie Blue

Young-Shim © 1990 GumTaek Bae / KBS / DAEWON MEDIA

Seagull (1994). Despite the questionable quality of the film, its success at the box office demonstrated that the public’s interest in animation had

K-Animation. In this aspect Dooly the Little Dinosaur: Ice Planet Adventure

increased significantly.

was an exception. Adapted from the TV series, Dooly the Little Dinosau

This interest led to animations in a variety of genres. Director Shin Dong-

enjoyed a well-received theatrical debut thanks to a fresh storyline that

heon, who helped launch K-Animation with his 1967 film Hong Gil-dong,

had no relation to the original series. A new spin was also put on the

enjoyed great success with Return of the Hero Hong Gil-dong in 1995. The

characters, showing a flexibility not seen before.

same year also saw the release of Red Hawk: Weapon of Death, a martial

K-Animation was raised to another level with films such as The War

arts animation, and the basketball feature Hungry Best 5, a contender in

Diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin (1997), a film about the legendary naval hero;

the sports genre.

The Last Warrior Ryan (1997), a futuristic sci-fi feature; and The King of

Among these bold ventures into previously unvisited genres, two in

Kings: Jesus (1998), a film set in a biblical setting. Perhaps the peak of

particular held much significance from 1996. Cartoonist Lee Hyun-sae

this movement occurred with Grandma and Her Ghosts (1998). This film

took up the mantle as both producer and director in the animated film

adhered to traditional methods of animation and also reinforced the idea

adaptation of his own work Armageddon, a blockbuster with a budget

that the storyline should be the main element in an animated film. The

of KRW 2.1 billion, an enormous sum at the time. With the exception of

studio’s collaboration with Taiwan also helped to expand the film’s market

sound production, all production was done by Korean staff, including one

reach. In 1999, the 100-percent CGI movie The Steel Force was released,

of the early forays into computer generated images, or CGI. Armageddon,

just four years behind the Pixar blockbuster Toy Story (1995). This made

however, suffered from the same fatal flaw that plagued other K-Animation

Korea the second nation to make a full-length animated film all in CGI.

features at theaters at the time: a weak plot. This was because up until

Japan was third with the 2000 film Alice, followed by the U.K. with Valiant

that point, no systematic approach existed for making storylines for

in 2005 and Thailand with Khan Kluay in 2006.

52 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 53


The Beginning of Franchising: Dooly the Little Dinosaur The first K-Animation franchise in the fullest sense of the word was Dooly the Little Dinosaur. Cartoonist Kim Soo-jung created the character in 1983. From the start, when Dooly first appeared in the children’s magazine Treasure Island in the serial Dooly the Little Dinosaur to the present, when the character’s 30th birthday was celebrated, Dooly is the most beloved animated character in Korean history. Confined to paper, he began to join forces with other mediums and created a synergy effect, leading to the animated TV series in 1987. Then came a sequel and in 1995, the company Doolynara was founded, laying the groundwork for creating a Dooly franchise. The start came from the educational program aired on cable TV Backpacking with Dooly (1995). Then in 1996, the theatrical release of the animated film Dooly the Little Dinosaur: The Ice Planet Adventure ranked fourth in the yearly box office rankings in Korea, displaying the strength of the Dooly brand. Afterwards the syndication rights were sold in Germany and not long after, Dooly could be soon on TV screens in several countries. One botched collaboration was with a major U.S. studio. With the success of Dooly the Little Dinosaur: The Ice Planet Adventure Warner Brothers suggested a tie-up but right before the contract was signed, the project was delayed indefinitely due to Korea’s bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Afterwards a collection of Dooly’s comics was published and sold in Indonesia, China, and other countries. The Seoul suburb of Bucheon also christened “Dooly Street.” Dooly was later featured on a postage stamp, appeared in all kinds of commercials, and earned the title of the most beloved animated character by Koreans. In 2004, the educational 4-D animation Dooly’s Fantastic Tree Adventure was produced, and in 2009, a new TV series popped up. In production is a new theatrical film and the Dooly Museum is scheduled to open in 2014.

Cartoonist Kim Soo-jung

54 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Michol Heedong

Douner

Dooly

Ddochi

Dooly’s role in the history of K-Animation is significant because he was the first real character brand, and as such, showed the importance of the value of a character brand. When the idea of a character brand was still non-existent, the Dooly character recorded revenues of KRW 2 billion to 3 billion yearly but in 2009, that figure shot up to about KRW 100 billion. This showed that the value of the brand was indisputable. Doolynara established partnerships and affiliations with about 50 companies and governments, and Dooly and supporting characters were appearing on toys, dolls, jewelry, household goods, and many other products before Pororo would come blowing through. So why was Dooly so beloved as a character? The biggest factor was how well children were able to relate to the animal characters. Another attractive point of the franchise was the unique chemistry that formed between Dooly and other characters like Douner, Ddochi, Michol, the homeowner Gildong, and the baby Heedong. The qualities of each character are unique: Dooly is a dinosaur whose species has gone extinct; Douner is a prince from outer space; Ddochi is an ostrich who ran away from the circus; and Michol is an aspiring singer learning under Dooly. With such a collection of diverse characters, one strength of Little Dino Dooly is the ability to create unique and interesting stories set against a tight storytelling structure. The History of K-Animation 55


The Beginning of Franchising: Dooly the Little Dinosaur The first K-Animation franchise in the fullest sense of the word was Dooly the Little Dinosaur. Cartoonist Kim Soo-jung created the character in 1983. From the start, when Dooly first appeared in the children’s magazine Treasure Island in the serial Dooly the Little Dinosaur to the present, when the character’s 30th birthday was celebrated, Dooly is the most beloved animated character in Korean history. Confined to paper, he began to join forces with other mediums and created a synergy effect, leading to the animated TV series in 1987. Then came a sequel and in 1995, the company Doolynara was founded, laying the groundwork for creating a Dooly franchise. The start came from the educational program aired on cable TV Backpacking with Dooly (1995). Then in 1996, the theatrical release of the animated film Dooly the Little Dinosaur: The Ice Planet Adventure ranked fourth in the yearly box office rankings in Korea, displaying the strength of the Dooly brand. Afterwards the syndication rights were sold in Germany and not long after, Dooly could be soon on TV screens in several countries. One botched collaboration was with a major U.S. studio. With the success of Dooly the Little Dinosaur: The Ice Planet Adventure Warner Brothers suggested a tie-up but right before the contract was signed, the project was delayed indefinitely due to Korea’s bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Afterwards a collection of Dooly’s comics was published and sold in Indonesia, China, and other countries. The Seoul suburb of Bucheon also christened “Dooly Street.” Dooly was later featured on a postage stamp, appeared in all kinds of commercials, and earned the title of the most beloved animated character by Koreans. In 2004, the educational 4-D animation Dooly’s Fantastic Tree Adventure was produced, and in 2009, a new TV series popped up. In production is a new theatrical film and the Dooly Museum is scheduled to open in 2014.

Cartoonist Kim Soo-jung

54 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Michol Heedong

Douner

Dooly

Ddochi

Dooly’s role in the history of K-Animation is significant because he was the first real character brand, and as such, showed the importance of the value of a character brand. When the idea of a character brand was still non-existent, the Dooly character recorded revenues of KRW 2 billion to 3 billion yearly but in 2009, that figure shot up to about KRW 100 billion. This showed that the value of the brand was indisputable. Doolynara established partnerships and affiliations with about 50 companies and governments, and Dooly and supporting characters were appearing on toys, dolls, jewelry, household goods, and many other products before Pororo would come blowing through. So why was Dooly so beloved as a character? The biggest factor was how well children were able to relate to the animal characters. Another attractive point of the franchise was the unique chemistry that formed between Dooly and other characters like Douner, Ddochi, Michol, the homeowner Gildong, and the baby Heedong. The qualities of each character are unique: Dooly is a dinosaur whose species has gone extinct; Douner is a prince from outer space; Ddochi is an ostrich who ran away from the circus; and Michol is an aspiring singer learning under Dooly. With such a collection of diverse characters, one strength of Little Dino Dooly is the ability to create unique and interesting stories set against a tight storytelling structure. The History of K-Animation 55


Into the Hearts of Children Worldwide in the 21st Century K-Animation greatly expanded its global reach in the 21st century. From the 1990s, the industry started to gain more official support, its infrastructure was being developed in various ways, and the rise of a more skilled workforce played a pivotal role in K-Animation’s growth. The practice of using mostly subcontractors had all but disappeared, while an

My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)

atmosphere encouraging creativity had settled in. In the 1990s, animation went from producing mostly independent animated shorts for film festivals

Girl, Mari in 2002. His work was a rare piece of arthouse animation and a

to gradually moving into the mainstream.

first for K-Animation. The story unfolds with Korean characters in a fantasy

Among animated films released in theaters, one shining example of

world, and the backdrop combining realism with watercolor stylized

success came in the beginning of the 2000s. Lee Sung-gang, a leading

visuals set it apart from conventional animated features at that time.

Korean indie filmmaker, released his first feature-length film My Beautiful

Another major difference was the emphasis on imagery over storytelling. My Beautiful Girl, Mari received the Grand Prix for Best Feature Film at the 2002 Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France. In 2007, Lee

Oseam (2003)

came up with another lyrical yet fresh and emotional world with Yobi, the Five-tailed Fox. Filmmaker Sung Baek-yeop’s Oseam (2003), adapted from Jeong Chaebong’s children’s story (which itself is based on a traditional folk tale), is distinctly Asian in its presentation. The movie portrayed a still world with subtlety and lyricism that came to be a paragon for future “Koreanstyle animation.” Wonderful Days (2003), another landmark work with a budget reaching KRW 15 billion over the course of seven long years, had the largest-scale production in Korean animation history. In that light, the Korean industry could stand toe-to-toe with those of the U.S. or Japan. Wonderful Days was a major step forward from regular sci-fi animation that mostly targeted elementary school children, and the method of combining

56 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 57


Into the Hearts of Children Worldwide in the 21st Century K-Animation greatly expanded its global reach in the 21st century. From the 1990s, the industry started to gain more official support, its infrastructure was being developed in various ways, and the rise of a more skilled workforce played a pivotal role in K-Animation’s growth. The practice of using mostly subcontractors had all but disappeared, while an

My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)

atmosphere encouraging creativity had settled in. In the 1990s, animation went from producing mostly independent animated shorts for film festivals

Girl, Mari in 2002. His work was a rare piece of arthouse animation and a

to gradually moving into the mainstream.

first for K-Animation. The story unfolds with Korean characters in a fantasy

Among animated films released in theaters, one shining example of

world, and the backdrop combining realism with watercolor stylized

success came in the beginning of the 2000s. Lee Sung-gang, a leading

visuals set it apart from conventional animated features at that time.

Korean indie filmmaker, released his first feature-length film My Beautiful

Another major difference was the emphasis on imagery over storytelling. My Beautiful Girl, Mari received the Grand Prix for Best Feature Film at the 2002 Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France. In 2007, Lee

Oseam (2003)

came up with another lyrical yet fresh and emotional world with Yobi, the Five-tailed Fox. Filmmaker Sung Baek-yeop’s Oseam (2003), adapted from Jeong Chaebong’s children’s story (which itself is based on a traditional folk tale), is distinctly Asian in its presentation. The movie portrayed a still world with subtlety and lyricism that came to be a paragon for future “Koreanstyle animation.” Wonderful Days (2003), another landmark work with a budget reaching KRW 15 billion over the course of seven long years, had the largest-scale production in Korean animation history. In that light, the Korean industry could stand toe-to-toe with those of the U.S. or Japan. Wonderful Days was a major step forward from regular sci-fi animation that mostly targeted elementary school children, and the method of combining

56 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 57


2-D and 3-D shots of miniatures evidenced the

everything. Based on Hwang Sun-mi’s bestselling children’s story, this

eye-opening technical prowess of K-Animation.

film, which spent a long time in production, was released in more than 40

A number of other animated successes merit closer inspection. Flying Pig Pirate Mateo (2004)

countries. In Korea, a combined 2.2 million viewers went to see the movie, generating KRW 15 billion in the domestic take alone.

received funding from the Korean Cultural

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild paved the way for the advancement of

Contents Association (KOCCA), and to reinforce

K-Animation by selecting a qualified success as its inspiration, having a

the storytelling element, American animation

strong storyline, setting a meticulously planned pre-production schedule,

writers Duane Capizzi, David Slack and others

and cutting out superfluous scenes. While the strong effort produced

were hired; Hideki Sonoda of Pokemon fame

content that fared well in foreign markets, methodological marketing

spearheaded the project. Shin Amhaengeosa (2004) was a Korean-

strategies were also a big reason for the success of this film. Another

Japanese collaboration using hybrids of Korean historical figures and a

breakout film that came out in the same year was The King of Pigs (2011).

setting infused with modern-style action. The film’s producer, Ahn Tae-kun,

Testing the possibilities of low-budget indie films, this movie generated

also released an adaptation of cartoonist Huh Young-man’s Hammerboy

buzz at the 2010 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). Though released

(2004) the same year. K-Animation icon Nelson Shin released Empress

on a small-scale, the film reached a wide audience and was well-received.

Chung (2005), and Jo Beom-jin’s Aachi & Ssipak (2006) was a no-holds-

The King of Pigs showed a whole spectrum of discussion topics through

Aachi & Ssipak (2006)

barred animation in the vein of Beavis and Butthead Do America (1996). Lim Ah-ron’s Mug Travel, a series for preschool children aired on EBS, produced a theatrical adaptation that opened a new chapter in children’s

Flying Pig Pirate Mateo (2004)

digital 3-D animation and was exported to more than 20 countries. Life is Cool (2008) was the first Korean full-length animated film to use rotoscoping. Sadly, these movies were poorly received in the Korean market. Though failure to appeal to the family film market was the biggest reason for the lukewarm reception, many other factors played a part. The general public’s awareness of Korean animation remained weak, and more time was needed to break the dominance of American and Japanese animation. Then Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011) came on the scene and changed

58 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 59


2-D and 3-D shots of miniatures evidenced the

everything. Based on Hwang Sun-mi’s bestselling children’s story, this

eye-opening technical prowess of K-Animation.

film, which spent a long time in production, was released in more than 40

A number of other animated successes merit closer inspection. Flying Pig Pirate Mateo (2004)

countries. In Korea, a combined 2.2 million viewers went to see the movie, generating KRW 15 billion in the domestic take alone.

received funding from the Korean Cultural

Leafie, A Hen into the Wild paved the way for the advancement of

Contents Association (KOCCA), and to reinforce

K-Animation by selecting a qualified success as its inspiration, having a

the storytelling element, American animation

strong storyline, setting a meticulously planned pre-production schedule,

writers Duane Capizzi, David Slack and others

and cutting out superfluous scenes. While the strong effort produced

were hired; Hideki Sonoda of Pokemon fame

content that fared well in foreign markets, methodological marketing

spearheaded the project. Shin Amhaengeosa (2004) was a Korean-

strategies were also a big reason for the success of this film. Another

Japanese collaboration using hybrids of Korean historical figures and a

breakout film that came out in the same year was The King of Pigs (2011).

setting infused with modern-style action. The film’s producer, Ahn Tae-kun,

Testing the possibilities of low-budget indie films, this movie generated

also released an adaptation of cartoonist Huh Young-man’s Hammerboy

buzz at the 2010 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). Though released

(2004) the same year. K-Animation icon Nelson Shin released Empress

on a small-scale, the film reached a wide audience and was well-received.

Chung (2005), and Jo Beom-jin’s Aachi & Ssipak (2006) was a no-holds-

The King of Pigs showed a whole spectrum of discussion topics through

Aachi & Ssipak (2006)

barred animation in the vein of Beavis and Butthead Do America (1996). Lim Ah-ron’s Mug Travel, a series for preschool children aired on EBS, produced a theatrical adaptation that opened a new chapter in children’s

Flying Pig Pirate Mateo (2004)

digital 3-D animation and was exported to more than 20 countries. Life is Cool (2008) was the first Korean full-length animated film to use rotoscoping. Sadly, these movies were poorly received in the Korean market. Though failure to appeal to the family film market was the biggest reason for the lukewarm reception, many other factors played a part. The general public’s awareness of Korean animation remained weak, and more time was needed to break the dominance of American and Japanese animation. Then Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011) came on the scene and changed

58 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 59


the medium of animation, and even with such heavy topics, it was

(SBS, 2000) was one of the more notable TV animated programs. Part of

favorably received by most audiences.

the sci-fi genre and set in a virtual city from a game, the film secured 90

The 21st century also ushered in a great revolution in Korea’s animated

percent of its budget through additional publication rights, opening up

TV programs. At the center of this was Pororo the Little Penguin (2003).

possibilities in a new market. The TV series White Heart Baekgu (SBS,

Airing on EBS, this program expanded Korea’s character industry in one fell

2000), originally set for a theatrical release, featured a Korean jindo dog

swoop and proved how crucial careful market research and the choice of

and a child in a children’s drama, which was very popular with young

characters were in determining success in animation. After Dooly, Pororo

audiences.

was the next character to take up the mantle as Korea’s top animated

Starting in 2004, under a new rule stipulating that 1 percent of

character, and the possibility of animation

programming on terrestrial TV and 1.5 percent of that on cable or satellite

collaboration with North Korea was even

TV must be animation, the industry saw a sudden surge in mass produced

discussed. The first attempt at such inter-

animated works. About 20 TV animated series were produced in 2005, and

Korean collaboration was Lazy Cat Dinga

from then on, about 15–20 were made on average. This created a stronger

(2001), as North Korean animators

foundation for animation production and led to successful collaborations

who had done subcontracting

with the likes of Canada, Spain, China and other countries as investment

work for the U.S. participated

partners. The joint Korean-American work Pi’s Story (2006) was a huge

in production. The film saw

success abroad, and the sequel, The Reef 2: High Tide came out in 2012.

a degree of success in Japan,

Ocon, the production company responsible for Pororo, received a large

Hong Kong, Singapore, and other

investment of KRW 10 billion from Goldman Sachs thanks to its 2004 work

Shin Amhaengeosa (2004) © YOUN IN-WAN, YANG KYUNG-IL/ Shin Angyo Project 2004

Asian markets. The follow-up was

Dibo the Gift Dragon.

none other than Pororo the Little

After passing through an initial boom in the 1970s, K-Animation was

Penguin, which became the

ripe for a golden age in the 21st century thanks to several favorable

first Korean animation to

conditions: many lessons gleaned through trial and error in the 1990s, a

be exported to terrestrial

better-trained workforce, government aid and the formation of a family-

TV channels in Europe

film market. The market for child-friendly culture had set deep roots in the

and also received much

nation’s consciousness. Animation had finally become an industry of its

attention at film festivals.

own, and K-Animation had inarguably become a widely recognized area

After 2000, Track City

of Korean entertainment abroad. With more than 50 years in the making, K-Animation finally began to start spreading its wings.

60 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 61


the medium of animation, and even with such heavy topics, it was

(SBS, 2000) was one of the more notable TV animated programs. Part of

favorably received by most audiences.

the sci-fi genre and set in a virtual city from a game, the film secured 90

The 21st century also ushered in a great revolution in Korea’s animated

percent of its budget through additional publication rights, opening up

TV programs. At the center of this was Pororo the Little Penguin (2003).

possibilities in a new market. The TV series White Heart Baekgu (SBS,

Airing on EBS, this program expanded Korea’s character industry in one fell

2000), originally set for a theatrical release, featured a Korean jindo dog

swoop and proved how crucial careful market research and the choice of

and a child in a children’s drama, which was very popular with young

characters were in determining success in animation. After Dooly, Pororo

audiences.

was the next character to take up the mantle as Korea’s top animated

Starting in 2004, under a new rule stipulating that 1 percent of

character, and the possibility of animation

programming on terrestrial TV and 1.5 percent of that on cable or satellite

collaboration with North Korea was even

TV must be animation, the industry saw a sudden surge in mass produced

discussed. The first attempt at such inter-

animated works. About 20 TV animated series were produced in 2005, and

Korean collaboration was Lazy Cat Dinga

from then on, about 15–20 were made on average. This created a stronger

(2001), as North Korean animators

foundation for animation production and led to successful collaborations

who had done subcontracting

with the likes of Canada, Spain, China and other countries as investment

work for the U.S. participated

partners. The joint Korean-American work Pi’s Story (2006) was a huge

in production. The film saw

success abroad, and the sequel, The Reef 2: High Tide came out in 2012.

a degree of success in Japan,

Ocon, the production company responsible for Pororo, received a large

Hong Kong, Singapore, and other

investment of KRW 10 billion from Goldman Sachs thanks to its 2004 work

Shin Amhaengeosa (2004) © YOUN IN-WAN, YANG KYUNG-IL/ Shin Angyo Project 2004

Asian markets. The follow-up was

Dibo the Gift Dragon.

none other than Pororo the Little

After passing through an initial boom in the 1970s, K-Animation was

Penguin, which became the

ripe for a golden age in the 21st century thanks to several favorable

first Korean animation to

conditions: many lessons gleaned through trial and error in the 1990s, a

be exported to terrestrial

better-trained workforce, government aid and the formation of a family-

TV channels in Europe

film market. The market for child-friendly culture had set deep roots in the

and also received much

nation’s consciousness. Animation had finally become an industry of its

attention at film festivals.

own, and K-Animation had inarguably become a widely recognized area

After 2000, Track City

of Korean entertainment abroad. With more than 50 years in the making, K-Animation finally began to start spreading its wings.

60 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

The History of K-Animation 61


Who is Nelson Shin? Born in 1939 in Pyeongsan, Hwanghae-do province, in present-day North Korea, Nelson Shin (born Shin Neung-kyun) moved to Hollywood in the 1970s, when Korean animation had no global standing, and worked on many animation projects in the U.S. He seemed to have been born with an innate ability to draw. Although he was not educated at school, he taught himself by reading magazines and comic books he found in the garbage. He started a career as a newspaper cartoonist during the Korean War. Later, he worked as a cartoonist for a newspaper under the penname Shin Neung-pa. For 11 years, Nelson Shin labored in animation production, working on numerous commercial animation projects before leaving for the U.S. in 1971. His reasoning was that he wanted to work at the highest level in his craft. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he happened to meet the head of a design company. Nelson Shin had no connections there, but his meeting got him into the field. After many trials and tribulations, he got work in animation production, which is when he adopted the

62 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

English name Nelson. The first American animation Nelson Shin was credited for was The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974) by Steve Krantz Productions, in which he served as an assistant animator. Later, he joined the Pink Panther series by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (DFE) as an animator. It was Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), however, that helped him earn a name for himself in Hollywood. Director George Lucas asked the animator to make the visual image of the lightsaber, which plays a central role in the film’s action scenes. Lucas gave him one month, but Nelson Shin finished it in just four days using rotoscoping, and the lightsaber earned worldwide fame. Much of the animation Nelson Shin has worked on has been for Empress Chung (2005) American television series. He has worked as an animator, producer, and director of the Marvel Comics series Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Fantastic Four; DC Comics’ Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toon Adventures, which was produced by Steven Spielberg. Eventually, he received an order from the American toy company Hasbro, which had just begun the TV animated series Transformers (1984–87). In 1985, the feature film of the robot animation hit movie theaters, and Nelson Shin reflected Asian ideology and philosophy into the robot characters. When director Michael Bay released Transformers: The Movie in 2008, Nelson Shin was remembered as the father of the original film. The Simpsons is another major TV series that he worked on. What brought Nelson Shin back to Korea was Akom Production, which Marvel Productions established in Korea in 1985. Marvel let him manage the company and in three years, he became the president and owner. Empress Chung (2005) was the first animation he directed in Korea. Born in present-day North Korea but living in South Korea, he produced this film as a collaboration between the two Koreas. Since 1995, he has also published the animation magazine Animatoon.

The History of K-Animation 63


Who is Nelson Shin? Born in 1939 in Pyeongsan, Hwanghae-do province, in present-day North Korea, Nelson Shin (born Shin Neung-kyun) moved to Hollywood in the 1970s, when Korean animation had no global standing, and worked on many animation projects in the U.S. He seemed to have been born with an innate ability to draw. Although he was not educated at school, he taught himself by reading magazines and comic books he found in the garbage. He started a career as a newspaper cartoonist during the Korean War. Later, he worked as a cartoonist for a newspaper under the penname Shin Neung-pa. For 11 years, Nelson Shin labored in animation production, working on numerous commercial animation projects before leaving for the U.S. in 1971. His reasoning was that he wanted to work at the highest level in his craft. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he happened to meet the head of a design company. Nelson Shin had no connections there, but his meeting got him into the field. After many trials and tribulations, he got work in animation production, which is when he adopted the

62 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

English name Nelson. The first American animation Nelson Shin was credited for was The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974) by Steve Krantz Productions, in which he served as an assistant animator. Later, he joined the Pink Panther series by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (DFE) as an animator. It was Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), however, that helped him earn a name for himself in Hollywood. Director George Lucas asked the animator to make the visual image of the lightsaber, which plays a central role in the film’s action scenes. Lucas gave him one month, but Nelson Shin finished it in just four days using rotoscoping, and the lightsaber earned worldwide fame. Much of the animation Nelson Shin has worked on has been for Empress Chung (2005) American television series. He has worked as an animator, producer, and director of the Marvel Comics series Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Fantastic Four; DC Comics’ Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toon Adventures, which was produced by Steven Spielberg. Eventually, he received an order from the American toy company Hasbro, which had just begun the TV animated series Transformers (1984–87). In 1985, the feature film of the robot animation hit movie theaters, and Nelson Shin reflected Asian ideology and philosophy into the robot characters. When director Michael Bay released Transformers: The Movie in 2008, Nelson Shin was remembered as the father of the original film. The Simpsons is another major TV series that he worked on. What brought Nelson Shin back to Korea was Akom Production, which Marvel Productions established in Korea in 1985. Marvel let him manage the company and in three years, he became the president and owner. Empress Chung (2005) was the first animation he directed in Korea. Born in present-day North Korea but living in South Korea, he produced this film as a collaboration between the two Koreas. Since 1995, he has also published the animation magazine Animatoon.

The History of K-Animation 63


Chapter Three

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide

Prelude to Progress K-Animation has not only a solid footing in the domestic market, but also countless fans abroad. Thanks especially to Pororo the Little Penguin, Korean animated characters exploded like a fire ignited and could be found the world over. A further look back, however, shows that though traces of K-Animation could be found from the early 1990s, the sector took its first big step on the world stage in 1997 with Hamos the Green Chariot, which was extremely popular in the Japanese market. A sci-fi story with a robot character, Hamos the Green Chariot received rave reviews in Japan, the global powerhouse of the robot animation genre. The Seoul Movie production Restol, The Special Rescue Squad (1999) is another notable work in K-Animation. Set in a dystopian future, the film is about robots and their pilots saving the world from danger. Restol 64 Befriending Children All Over the World OseamK-ANIMATION (2003)

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 65


Chapter Three

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide

Prelude to Progress K-Animation has not only a solid footing in the domestic market, but also countless fans abroad. Thanks especially to Pororo the Little Penguin, Korean animated characters exploded like a fire ignited and could be found the world over. A further look back, however, shows that though traces of K-Animation could be found from the early 1990s, the sector took its first big step on the world stage in 1997 with Hamos the Green Chariot, which was extremely popular in the Japanese market. A sci-fi story with a robot character, Hamos the Green Chariot received rave reviews in Japan, the global powerhouse of the robot animation genre. The Seoul Movie production Restol, The Special Rescue Squad (1999) is another notable work in K-Animation. Set in a dystopian future, the film is about robots and their pilots saving the world from danger. Restol 64 Befriending Children All Over the World OseamK-ANIMATION (2003)

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 65


aired on one of Japan’s main broadcast channels, NHK, and also enjoyed success abroad like in Hong Kong and the Philippines. The same year saw the release of another groundbreaking work, Milo’s Adventure (1999). With production taking three years and costing KRW 7.8 billion, this animated TV series made surprising inroads in the American, French, and Chinese markets. The film’s producers also developed a computer game based on the movie, an early example of the multimedia franchise strategy. The movie portrayed the adventures of ant soldiers in their fight to protect

BASToF Lemon

their colony and the greater insect world. BASToF Lemon (2001) was another successful K-Animation work before Pororo. Exported to the U.S.

K-Animation’s success in international animation, content, and trade

and Japan, the film featured the fingerboard, a mini-skateboard ridden

fairs took off. Looking at more recent successes, Robocar Poli was selected

with fingers and played by one of the characters, and was so popular that

at the 2010 MIPCOM as the best in the Junior Licensing Challenge category

it blazed the way for tie-ins.

and Canimals was selected by the Kids Jury as the best program. Cloud bread received a nomination for Best Animated Television Production for

Hamos the Green Chariot © 1997 Jae Hwan Kim / KBS, Diamond Ad · DAEWON MEDIA

Children at the U.S. Annie Awards. But when it comes to works that had the spotlight in international film festivals, first mention must go to the 1989 animated TV series 2020 Space Wonderkiddy. In truth, the series’ success was thanks to the animation boom among Korean TV stations brought about by the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. In certain aspects, it was a hastily made work meant to satisfy external demand. However, executive producer Kim Daejoong and Seyeong Donghwa, the production company in charge of the project, managed to create a film of surprising quality. Though 2020 Space Wonderkiddy fared poorly when broadcast domestically, it received the prize for outstanding animated television program at France’s MIPCOM. Heralded as an animation ahead of its time, 2020 Space Wonderkiddy is considered a cult classic in animation.

66 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 67


aired on one of Japan’s main broadcast channels, NHK, and also enjoyed success abroad like in Hong Kong and the Philippines. The same year saw the release of another groundbreaking work, Milo’s Adventure (1999). With production taking three years and costing KRW 7.8 billion, this animated TV series made surprising inroads in the American, French, and Chinese markets. The film’s producers also developed a computer game based on the movie, an early example of the multimedia franchise strategy. The movie portrayed the adventures of ant soldiers in their fight to protect

BASToF Lemon

their colony and the greater insect world. BASToF Lemon (2001) was another successful K-Animation work before Pororo. Exported to the U.S.

K-Animation’s success in international animation, content, and trade

and Japan, the film featured the fingerboard, a mini-skateboard ridden

fairs took off. Looking at more recent successes, Robocar Poli was selected

with fingers and played by one of the characters, and was so popular that

at the 2010 MIPCOM as the best in the Junior Licensing Challenge category

it blazed the way for tie-ins.

and Canimals was selected by the Kids Jury as the best program. Cloud bread received a nomination for Best Animated Television Production for

Hamos the Green Chariot © 1997 Jae Hwan Kim / KBS, Diamond Ad · DAEWON MEDIA

Children at the U.S. Annie Awards. But when it comes to works that had the spotlight in international film festivals, first mention must go to the 1989 animated TV series 2020 Space Wonderkiddy. In truth, the series’ success was thanks to the animation boom among Korean TV stations brought about by the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. In certain aspects, it was a hastily made work meant to satisfy external demand. However, executive producer Kim Daejoong and Seyeong Donghwa, the production company in charge of the project, managed to create a film of surprising quality. Though 2020 Space Wonderkiddy fared poorly when broadcast domestically, it received the prize for outstanding animated television program at France’s MIPCOM. Heralded as an animation ahead of its time, 2020 Space Wonderkiddy is considered a cult classic in animation.

66 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 67


Animated Features That Swept International Film Festivals K-Animation began to distinguish itself from the late 1990s at the world’s top four animation festivals sponsored by the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA). At the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, director Lee Myung-ha’s Existence (1999) won the Debut Prize and director Lim Ah-ron’s Angel (2002) took home the Special Prize. The works of Korean directors have also been recognized from time to time at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, a long-standing event held in France started in 1960. Director Lee Sung-gang has often appeared at the

O-Nu-Ri (2003) image courtesy of INDIESTORY INC.

Annecy festival, starting with his animated short Ashes in the Thicket in 1999 and winning the Grand Prix for his feature film My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2001). The latter is considered a masterpiece

students from Kaywon Art University. Two years later, director Kim Sang-

of the meeting between a contemplative world

nahm’s Ilgobsal - Kid (2002) received special mention in the student

unseen in Western animation and fantasy,

competition. Daddy and I won the Hiroshima Prize at the Hiroshima

and then brought together in a watercolor tone

International Animation Festival and also received an invitation to the

visual. Lee went on to receive the Special Award

Annecy festival. Ilgobsal - Kid was also screened in three of the top four

at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films, or

animation festivals. Director Jo Sung-yeon’s Grandma (2001) received

Animafest Zagreb, another of the four festivals,

recognition in the 2001 Sundance Film Festival in the short film category

with his short O-nu-ri (2003). He

and the Montecatini International Short Film Festival. Through her work,

earned other awards in children’s

she eventually joined Pixar.

film festivals in Chicago and

Not only My Beautiful Girl, Mari but also director Sung Baek-yeop’s

Giffoni, among others, and attention in

Oseam (2003) won the Grand Prix at the Annecy festival, the latter in 2004.

places from Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards

Consecutive awards at the biennial animated film festival acknowledged

Film Festival to Brazil’s Animation Festival. The first Korean work to achieve success at Zagreb was Daddy and I (2000), which was made by

the high quality of Korean animations, which derives not only from their story but also from their outstanding use of color and their expression of the Korean concept of beauty.

Angel (2002) image courtesy of INDIESTORY INC.

68 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 69


Animated Features That Swept International Film Festivals K-Animation began to distinguish itself from the late 1990s at the world’s top four animation festivals sponsored by the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA). At the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, director Lee Myung-ha’s Existence (1999) won the Debut Prize and director Lim Ah-ron’s Angel (2002) took home the Special Prize. The works of Korean directors have also been recognized from time to time at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, a long-standing event held in France started in 1960. Director Lee Sung-gang has often appeared at the

O-Nu-Ri (2003) image courtesy of INDIESTORY INC.

Annecy festival, starting with his animated short Ashes in the Thicket in 1999 and winning the Grand Prix for his feature film My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2001). The latter is considered a masterpiece

students from Kaywon Art University. Two years later, director Kim Sang-

of the meeting between a contemplative world

nahm’s Ilgobsal - Kid (2002) received special mention in the student

unseen in Western animation and fantasy,

competition. Daddy and I won the Hiroshima Prize at the Hiroshima

and then brought together in a watercolor tone

International Animation Festival and also received an invitation to the

visual. Lee went on to receive the Special Award

Annecy festival. Ilgobsal - Kid was also screened in three of the top four

at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films, or

animation festivals. Director Jo Sung-yeon’s Grandma (2001) received

Animafest Zagreb, another of the four festivals,

recognition in the 2001 Sundance Film Festival in the short film category

with his short O-nu-ri (2003). He

and the Montecatini International Short Film Festival. Through her work,

earned other awards in children’s

she eventually joined Pixar.

film festivals in Chicago and

Not only My Beautiful Girl, Mari but also director Sung Baek-yeop’s

Giffoni, among others, and attention in

Oseam (2003) won the Grand Prix at the Annecy festival, the latter in 2004.

places from Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards

Consecutive awards at the biennial animated film festival acknowledged

Film Festival to Brazil’s Animation Festival. The first Korean work to achieve success at Zagreb was Daddy and I (2000), which was made by

the high quality of Korean animations, which derives not only from their story but also from their outstanding use of color and their expression of the Korean concept of beauty.

Angel (2002) image courtesy of INDIESTORY INC.

68 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 69


After K-Animation received recognition in the early 2000s for both feature-length and short animated films, its presence on the world stage began to expand. Special programs for K-Animation were held at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2002 and at the Annecy festival in 2004. Nelson Shin’s inter-Korean collaboration, Empress Chung, received a special prize in Annecy and advanced to the finals for the top prize in Ottawa. In 2005, director Park Se-jong’s Birthday Boy was nominated for an Oscar in the animated short film category, making him the first Korean nominated for an Academy Award. Director Jo Beom-jin’s Aachi & Ssipak (2006) was named Best Animated Feature Film at Spain’s Sitges Film Festival, and became the first Korean animated film to be invited to the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2009. After that, other film festivals abroad came calling including Annecy, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Seattle International Film Festival. In 2012, the Korean animated short Noodle Fish directed by Kim Jin-man captured the best animated short category at the Warsaw International Film Festival. The King of Pigs (2011) showed the strength of Korean indie films by winning the award for Best Animated Film at Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival, leading to invitations from more than 30 film festivals from around the globe. The latest success for Korean animation is Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011), which deserves closer inspection. The film won Best Animated Film at the Australian Film Festival, Best Family Film at Sitges, and Best Animation at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.

70 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

71 K-Animation Works Recognized King Worldwide of Pigs (2011)


After K-Animation received recognition in the early 2000s for both feature-length and short animated films, its presence on the world stage began to expand. Special programs for K-Animation were held at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2002 and at the Annecy festival in 2004. Nelson Shin’s inter-Korean collaboration, Empress Chung, received a special prize in Annecy and advanced to the finals for the top prize in Ottawa. In 2005, director Park Se-jong’s Birthday Boy was nominated for an Oscar in the animated short film category, making him the first Korean nominated for an Academy Award. Director Jo Beom-jin’s Aachi & Ssipak (2006) was named Best Animated Feature Film at Spain’s Sitges Film Festival, and became the first Korean animated film to be invited to the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2009. After that, other film festivals abroad came calling including Annecy, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Seattle International Film Festival. In 2012, the Korean animated short Noodle Fish directed by Kim Jin-man captured the best animated short category at the Warsaw International Film Festival. The King of Pigs (2011) showed the strength of Korean indie films by winning the award for Best Animated Film at Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival, leading to invitations from more than 30 film festivals from around the globe. The latest success for Korean animation is Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011), which deserves closer inspection. The film won Best Animated Film at the Australian Film Festival, Best Family Film at Sitges, and Best Animation at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.

70 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

71 K-Animation Works Recognized King Worldwide of Pigs (2011)


Animation and the Korean Wave Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, swept Asia in the 2000s and the influence of Korea’s hottest dramas extended to the realm of animation as well, starting with Janggeum’s Dream. The hit TV drama Dae Jang Geum (sometimes translated as Jewel in the Palace) was the inspiration for the first animated series based on the series, Janggeum’s Dream, in 2005. In 2007, the second series enjoyed continued popularity overseas, being sold to 27 countries including Japan, China, Thailand, and Hong Kong. One of the reasons for the series’ success was that not long after the TV drama had finished its run, the animated series was put into production while Janggeum fever was still strong. Janggeum, Yeon-saeng, Geum-yeong, Min Jeong-ho, and Han Sanggung, all characters appearing in the drama, were joined by new characters in the animated series. The animated series also depicted Janggeum on the road to achieving her dreams. The megahit Korean drama Winter Sonata was adapted to an animated series in a joint Korean-Japanese project in 2009. Actors Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-woo voiced the main characters to add more realism, and during the broadcast period, a huge event was held in Japan. When talking about Hallyu, another essential component is K-Pop, which also has a connection to animation. Dongwoo Animation & Entertainment is a leader in this field, with its animated music video for the girl group 2NE1 on YouTube. In 2013, Dongwoo produced KARA

In 2013, Dongwoo produced KARA the Animation by grafting together star marketing with animation. Five episodes were made, one for each KARA member.

the Animation by grafting together star marketing with animation. Five episodes were made, one for each KARA member. Park Gyu-ri is a police officer who piloted a robot to fight terrorists; Han Seung-yeon protects a space station from monsters in outer space; Nicole plays a cruise ship captain who saves her vessel from hijacking; Goo Ha-ra is the guardian of a royal family; and Kang Ji-young portrays a fire chief who defeats terrorists. As K-Pop grows more widespread, the market for star character animation seems ripe for further development. Janggeum’s Dream © MBC · SOK · HEEWON · HJ P&M

72 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 73


Animation and the Korean Wave Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, swept Asia in the 2000s and the influence of Korea’s hottest dramas extended to the realm of animation as well, starting with Janggeum’s Dream. The hit TV drama Dae Jang Geum (sometimes translated as Jewel in the Palace) was the inspiration for the first animated series based on the series, Janggeum’s Dream, in 2005. In 2007, the second series enjoyed continued popularity overseas, being sold to 27 countries including Japan, China, Thailand, and Hong Kong. One of the reasons for the series’ success was that not long after the TV drama had finished its run, the animated series was put into production while Janggeum fever was still strong. Janggeum, Yeon-saeng, Geum-yeong, Min Jeong-ho, and Han Sanggung, all characters appearing in the drama, were joined by new characters in the animated series. The animated series also depicted Janggeum on the road to achieving her dreams. The megahit Korean drama Winter Sonata was adapted to an animated series in a joint Korean-Japanese project in 2009. Actors Bae Yong-jun and Choi Ji-woo voiced the main characters to add more realism, and during the broadcast period, a huge event was held in Japan. When talking about Hallyu, another essential component is K-Pop, which also has a connection to animation. Dongwoo Animation & Entertainment is a leader in this field, with its animated music video for the girl group 2NE1 on YouTube. In 2013, Dongwoo produced KARA

In 2013, Dongwoo produced KARA the Animation by grafting together star marketing with animation. Five episodes were made, one for each KARA member.

the Animation by grafting together star marketing with animation. Five episodes were made, one for each KARA member. Park Gyu-ri is a police officer who piloted a robot to fight terrorists; Han Seung-yeon protects a space station from monsters in outer space; Nicole plays a cruise ship captain who saves her vessel from hijacking; Goo Ha-ra is the guardian of a royal family; and Kang Ji-young portrays a fire chief who defeats terrorists. As K-Pop grows more widespread, the market for star character animation seems ripe for further development. Janggeum’s Dream © MBC · SOK · HEEWON · HJ P&M

72 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 73


Korean Animators in Hollywood Korean names are no longer rare in the credits of Hollywood animation. If Nelson Shin, often called the father of the Transformers series, and Steven Hahn, who directed the world’s first 3-D animated feature Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985), were the first generation of ethnic Korean directors to make it big in Hollywood, then Peter Chung, is known for Aeon Flux, represents the second generation. The third generation of Korean animators is now making inroads into many leading animation studios in Hollywood. One recent achievement includes Lee Sang-jun, a chief character designer, and Sung Jeeyon, Blue Sky’s lighting lead who finished work on Epic (2013) not long ago. These top-level animators now play leading roles in Hollywood productions. Lee was a concept designer for Men in Black II and Hulk, and has worked on Yong Duk Jhun

many other blockbusters, including Pirates of the Caribbean. Later on, he

entered animation and supervised the design of all characters in Epic. Yet it is not just about creating alluring characters; it is also about considering all of their movements and facial expressions. Thus Lee’s role required a great deal of experience and skills. Animator Sung has worked at Blue Sky for 10 years and has had a hand in all Blue Sky animations since Ice Age: The Meltdown. She leads a team of scores of people, handling everything related to light in animation such

74 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

as color tones and shades. A single frame in one epic scene can take up to 100 hours to complete because it is such a high-technology job. A Korean animator is also found in the credits of The Croods (2013). Yong Duk Jhun was head of layout for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda and Shrek Forever After. In the late 1990s, he went to the U.S. to study animation, and in 2003, joined DreamWorks as a layout

Jennifer Yuh

artist. The role of head of layout in animation is almost equal to that of the director, as duties entail organizing scenes by painstakingly dealing with every element: background, characters, objects, and buildings, as well as their arrangement and position, light direction, and colors. Although still working in Hollywood, Jhun often introduces Korean aesthetics in his work, such as the beauty of negative space in Kung Fu Panda and the endless fan dance scene in Shrek Forever After. Jennifer Yuh’s claim to fame is directing Kung Fu Panda 2. Her family moved from South Korea to the U.S. when she was 4, and she majored in illustration before being hired by DreamWorks in 2002. In just nine short years, she rose to the rank of animation director. She initially distinguished herself in Kung Fu Panda, for which she directed the dream sequence, supervised the storytelling, and oversaw action sequences. Ultimately, she says, her dream is to make a Hollywood animation based on traditional Korean fairytales. While not working on that now, she is planning to have

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 75


Korean Animators in Hollywood Korean names are no longer rare in the credits of Hollywood animation. If Nelson Shin, often called the father of the Transformers series, and Steven Hahn, who directed the world’s first 3-D animated feature Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985), were the first generation of ethnic Korean directors to make it big in Hollywood, then Peter Chung, is known for Aeon Flux, represents the second generation. The third generation of Korean animators is now making inroads into many leading animation studios in Hollywood. One recent achievement includes Lee Sang-jun, a chief character designer, and Sung Jeeyon, Blue Sky’s lighting lead who finished work on Epic (2013) not long ago. These top-level animators now play leading roles in Hollywood productions. Lee was a concept designer for Men in Black II and Hulk, and has worked on Yong Duk Jhun

many other blockbusters, including Pirates of the Caribbean. Later on, he

entered animation and supervised the design of all characters in Epic. Yet it is not just about creating alluring characters; it is also about considering all of their movements and facial expressions. Thus Lee’s role required a great deal of experience and skills. Animator Sung has worked at Blue Sky for 10 years and has had a hand in all Blue Sky animations since Ice Age: The Meltdown. She leads a team of scores of people, handling everything related to light in animation such

74 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

as color tones and shades. A single frame in one epic scene can take up to 100 hours to complete because it is such a high-technology job. A Korean animator is also found in the credits of The Croods (2013). Yong Duk Jhun was head of layout for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda and Shrek Forever After. In the late 1990s, he went to the U.S. to study animation, and in 2003, joined DreamWorks as a layout

Jennifer Yuh

artist. The role of head of layout in animation is almost equal to that of the director, as duties entail organizing scenes by painstakingly dealing with every element: background, characters, objects, and buildings, as well as their arrangement and position, light direction, and colors. Although still working in Hollywood, Jhun often introduces Korean aesthetics in his work, such as the beauty of negative space in Kung Fu Panda and the endless fan dance scene in Shrek Forever After. Jennifer Yuh’s claim to fame is directing Kung Fu Panda 2. Her family moved from South Korea to the U.S. when she was 4, and she majored in illustration before being hired by DreamWorks in 2002. In just nine short years, she rose to the rank of animation director. She initially distinguished herself in Kung Fu Panda, for which she directed the dream sequence, supervised the storytelling, and oversaw action sequences. Ultimately, she says, her dream is to make a Hollywood animation based on traditional Korean fairytales. While not working on that now, she is planning to have

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 75


majored in computer engineering at Seoul National University and has long been a lover of art. No surprise, then, that his job is a combination of these two fields. His specialty is huge crowd scenes. Although they can be just passing scenes in a movie, the job of giving different features to countless characters is an incredible challenge that requires highly advanced technology. A significant number of Korean animators work for DreamWorks. Megamind had Catherine Yuh Rader serve as head of the story, Choi Woojin as the surfacing artist who creates a realistic texture for visual images, and Bertrand Chung as the crowd animator who deals with facial expressions and gestures. Thus a major part of Megamind’s story and visual images were created by Korean animators. This is much the same with Rise of the Guardians. Huh Hyun, who was head of modeling, created characters with Asian lines instead of just Western-style characters. Director Han Eondeok Avatar: The Last Airbender

co-directed Garfield’s Fun Fest with Mark A.Z. Dippe. Han has worked in

Korean characters appear in a Hollywood animation later. Incidentally,

animation since 2000 and on Pi’s Story in 2006. At Disney, animator Lee

her older sister, Catherin Yuh Rader, is also an important animator in

Minkyu directed a short film called Adam and Dog, which was nominated

Tinseltown. In the 1990s, Rader started work at DreamWorks as a story

for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

artist for Antz (1998) and later worked on Madagascar and Shrek. Since then, she has been active in story-related segments for movies.

Many ethnic Koreans are also in TV animation. Peter Shin started as an animator for The Simpsons, and later gained a stellar reputation as one of

Song Jung-jin and Kim Jung-hyun are also animators at DreamWorks.

the directors of Family Guy. Director Kim Sang-jin of the Korean production

Song is a veteran lighting supervisor who participated in the production

studio Moi Animation worked on the TV animation Avatar: The Last

of the Madagascar and Shrek series as well as How to Train Your Dragon

Airbender, which was then turned into a feature film by M. Night Shyamalan

and Megamind. In love with comics and animation since childhood, Song

as The Last Airbender. Kim won an Emmy Award for Individual Achievement

majored in art in Korea and then moved to the U.S. to study animation.

for his work in the production of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was

She is now part of a production team of blockbuster animated films aimed

made through a partnership and not the traditional method of OEM.

at global audiences. Kim, who works in special effects for characters,

76 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 77


majored in computer engineering at Seoul National University and has long been a lover of art. No surprise, then, that his job is a combination of these two fields. His specialty is huge crowd scenes. Although they can be just passing scenes in a movie, the job of giving different features to countless characters is an incredible challenge that requires highly advanced technology. A significant number of Korean animators work for DreamWorks. Megamind had Catherine Yuh Rader serve as head of the story, Choi Woojin as the surfacing artist who creates a realistic texture for visual images, and Bertrand Chung as the crowd animator who deals with facial expressions and gestures. Thus a major part of Megamind’s story and visual images were created by Korean animators. This is much the same with Rise of the Guardians. Huh Hyun, who was head of modeling, created characters with Asian lines instead of just Western-style characters. Director Han Eondeok Avatar: The Last Airbender

co-directed Garfield’s Fun Fest with Mark A.Z. Dippe. Han has worked in

Korean characters appear in a Hollywood animation later. Incidentally,

animation since 2000 and on Pi’s Story in 2006. At Disney, animator Lee

her older sister, Catherin Yuh Rader, is also an important animator in

Minkyu directed a short film called Adam and Dog, which was nominated

Tinseltown. In the 1990s, Rader started work at DreamWorks as a story

for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

artist for Antz (1998) and later worked on Madagascar and Shrek. Since then, she has been active in story-related segments for movies.

Many ethnic Koreans are also in TV animation. Peter Shin started as an animator for The Simpsons, and later gained a stellar reputation as one of

Song Jung-jin and Kim Jung-hyun are also animators at DreamWorks.

the directors of Family Guy. Director Kim Sang-jin of the Korean production

Song is a veteran lighting supervisor who participated in the production

studio Moi Animation worked on the TV animation Avatar: The Last

of the Madagascar and Shrek series as well as How to Train Your Dragon

Airbender, which was then turned into a feature film by M. Night Shyamalan

and Megamind. In love with comics and animation since childhood, Song

as The Last Airbender. Kim won an Emmy Award for Individual Achievement

majored in art in Korea and then moved to the U.S. to study animation.

for his work in the production of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was

She is now part of a production team of blockbuster animated films aimed

made through a partnership and not the traditional method of OEM.

at global audiences. Kim, who works in special effects for characters,

76 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 77


Korean Independent Animation In the 1980s, when K-animation was entering a depression of sorts, independent animation started to emerge. In the early stages, short films were produced using social change as their main theme. The 1990s, however, saw more support measures for the industry after more film festivals got off the ground. Student films in animation departments began emerging, and short works with diverse formats and themes were introduced to audiences. Works by Koreans who had studied abroad all turned heads. For example, Park Se-jong’s Birthday Boy (2005) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. From the 2000s, Korean indie animation attracted a larger viewership. Lee Sung-gang’s My Beautiful Girl, Mari was a bridge connecting animation with audiences. A well-known director of indie animation, he made animated features that had his signature written all over them, which created a strong middle ground between mainstream and independent animation. As time passed, indie animated works were often released in omnibus format, beginning with If You Were Me: Anima Vision (2005), a project by the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea. In 2007, the sequel If You Were Me: Anima Vision 2 was released. The thought-provoking film showed animation directors with different styles in the indie genre coming together to display their imagination

If You Were Me: Anima Vision 2 (2007)

under the theme of human rights. Indie Anibox: Selma’s Protein Coffee (2008) was a joint project by star indie directors Kim Un-gi, Yeon Sang-

When The King of Pigs, with its rough brushstrokes in pictures, and Green

ho, and Jang Hyeong-yun. As a result of this film’s success, works like The

Days: Dinosaur and I, which was reminiscent of watercolor paintings,

King of Pigs (2011) were later produced. The Story of Mr. Sorry (2009) was

were both released in 2011, they marked a turning point in Korean indie

produced by the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), and got invited to

animation. This was followed up by Padak (2012), which also enjoyed a

the competitive section of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

degree of success.

78 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 79


Korean Independent Animation In the 1980s, when K-animation was entering a depression of sorts, independent animation started to emerge. In the early stages, short films were produced using social change as their main theme. The 1990s, however, saw more support measures for the industry after more film festivals got off the ground. Student films in animation departments began emerging, and short works with diverse formats and themes were introduced to audiences. Works by Koreans who had studied abroad all turned heads. For example, Park Se-jong’s Birthday Boy (2005) was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. From the 2000s, Korean indie animation attracted a larger viewership. Lee Sung-gang’s My Beautiful Girl, Mari was a bridge connecting animation with audiences. A well-known director of indie animation, he made animated features that had his signature written all over them, which created a strong middle ground between mainstream and independent animation. As time passed, indie animated works were often released in omnibus format, beginning with If You Were Me: Anima Vision (2005), a project by the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea. In 2007, the sequel If You Were Me: Anima Vision 2 was released. The thought-provoking film showed animation directors with different styles in the indie genre coming together to display their imagination

If You Were Me: Anima Vision 2 (2007)

under the theme of human rights. Indie Anibox: Selma’s Protein Coffee (2008) was a joint project by star indie directors Kim Un-gi, Yeon Sang-

When The King of Pigs, with its rough brushstrokes in pictures, and Green

ho, and Jang Hyeong-yun. As a result of this film’s success, works like The

Days: Dinosaur and I, which was reminiscent of watercolor paintings,

King of Pigs (2011) were later produced. The Story of Mr. Sorry (2009) was

were both released in 2011, they marked a turning point in Korean indie

produced by the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), and got invited to

animation. This was followed up by Padak (2012), which also enjoyed a

the competitive section of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

degree of success.

78 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 79


The World’s First 3-D Animation: Starchaser: The Legend of Orin The world’s first 3-D animated film was Starchaser: The Legend of Orin directed by ethnic Korean animator Hahn Sang-ho, better known as Steve Hahn. Hahn was a film major at the University of California-San Diego in the mid-70s. He got into animation after asking Ralph Bakshi, an American animation pioneer, to hire him as a subcontractor. Hahn went on to become one of the leaders of the Korean animation industry. He established Hanho HeungUp Co. in the 1970s and produced a number of animated works as a subcontractor. Around the same time, Hollywood studios started to gradually replace Japanese subcontractors with Korean ones. Hahn wanted to do more than be a subcontractor, though. He dreamed of creating original animated works both great and unprecedented. His goal was production of the world’s first 3-D animation. While 3-D live-action films had quite a long history, 3-D had never been tried in animation before. Originally budgeted at USD 2.5 million and a planned filming period of one year, the project ended up exceeding USD 10 million in cost and took 2.5 years. Creating 3-D using the cell animation method as opposed to the digital was a very difficult task with the technology available at the time.

Starchaser is a sci-fi adventure inspired by Star Wars with a young man named Orin and Princess Aviana as its main characters. The film was released at 1,020 theaters in North America on November 22, 1985, and earned USD 4.5 million in its first week. Starchaser would have made much more in other markets but the distributor Atlantic went bankrupt before that could happen. Tough times soon fell on Hahn, and the world’s first 3-D animation seemingly disappeared without a trace. From then on, he had to continue working as a subcontractor, but his pioneering achievement was reevaluated at the 2006 Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival. A little more than 20 years after Starchaser was released, the 65-year-old animation trailblazer won the Achievement Award in the animation category.

80 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 81


The World’s First 3-D Animation: Starchaser: The Legend of Orin The world’s first 3-D animated film was Starchaser: The Legend of Orin directed by ethnic Korean animator Hahn Sang-ho, better known as Steve Hahn. Hahn was a film major at the University of California-San Diego in the mid-70s. He got into animation after asking Ralph Bakshi, an American animation pioneer, to hire him as a subcontractor. Hahn went on to become one of the leaders of the Korean animation industry. He established Hanho HeungUp Co. in the 1970s and produced a number of animated works as a subcontractor. Around the same time, Hollywood studios started to gradually replace Japanese subcontractors with Korean ones. Hahn wanted to do more than be a subcontractor, though. He dreamed of creating original animated works both great and unprecedented. His goal was production of the world’s first 3-D animation. While 3-D live-action films had quite a long history, 3-D had never been tried in animation before. Originally budgeted at USD 2.5 million and a planned filming period of one year, the project ended up exceeding USD 10 million in cost and took 2.5 years. Creating 3-D using the cell animation method as opposed to the digital was a very difficult task with the technology available at the time.

Starchaser is a sci-fi adventure inspired by Star Wars with a young man named Orin and Princess Aviana as its main characters. The film was released at 1,020 theaters in North America on November 22, 1985, and earned USD 4.5 million in its first week. Starchaser would have made much more in other markets but the distributor Atlantic went bankrupt before that could happen. Tough times soon fell on Hahn, and the world’s first 3-D animation seemingly disappeared without a trace. From then on, he had to continue working as a subcontractor, but his pioneering achievement was reevaluated at the 2006 Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival. A little more than 20 years after Starchaser was released, the 65-year-old animation trailblazer won the Achievement Award in the animation category.

80 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

K-Animation Works Recognized Worldwide 81


Chapter Four

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters

Gaining More Global Recognition Unique characters often lie at the heart of why people love an animated movie, and a whole new generation of Korean native characters is making its presence known around the world. This is especially true in China, a big fan of the Korean Wave and also widely considered the base through which to enter the global market for character production companies. In the Seoul Character & Licensing Fair 2013, numerous business exchanges occurred vis-a-vis overseas markets. ROI Visual, the studio for Robocar Poli, signed an agreement with Hyundai Motor and China’s state-run China Central Television (CCTV) on cultural exchanges for children’s traffic safety. The “Traffic Safety Stories with Robocar Poli” series began airing on CCTV and enjoyed top viewer ratings for a children’s show for 24 weeks from August 10, 2013. Robocar 82 LarvaK-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 83


Chapter Four

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters

Gaining More Global Recognition Unique characters often lie at the heart of why people love an animated movie, and a whole new generation of Korean native characters is making its presence known around the world. This is especially true in China, a big fan of the Korean Wave and also widely considered the base through which to enter the global market for character production companies. In the Seoul Character & Licensing Fair 2013, numerous business exchanges occurred vis-a-vis overseas markets. ROI Visual, the studio for Robocar Poli, signed an agreement with Hyundai Motor and China’s state-run China Central Television (CCTV) on cultural exchanges for children’s traffic safety. The “Traffic Safety Stories with Robocar Poli” series began airing on CCTV and enjoyed top viewer ratings for a children’s show for 24 weeks from August 10, 2013. Robocar 82 LarvaK-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 83


Rapid Growth with Asia as a Foothold Korean animated characters are using Asian markets as a bridgehead in moving across the world, as the character market is thriving in countries such as China and Indonesia while doing quite poorly in most other parts of the world. Korean characters have achieved considerable qualitative growth, so their competitiveness is seen as expanding at a healthy rate globally. As one industry source said, “The competitiveness of Korean characters has increased because they’re not focusing simply on little Robocar Poli

Poli is the first foreign animation shown on a Chinese state-run channel

kids anymore. Plus they’re easily accessible as a result of new apps being developed. It’s also a positive sign that the status of Korean character

in prime time. In addition, the show’s entry into China’s TV market was more significant because it was a coproduction between a large company and mid-size venture. With this win-win effect, Hyundai has enhanced its

1. Kindergarten visits in Taiwan 2. A promotional event in Taiwan 3. Kindergarten visits in China 4. CCTV (China Central Television) aired

corporate image via its traffic safety campaign conducted through Robocar Poli, while ROI Visual maximizes the PR effect of its characters. The Airport Diary featured the world’s first airplane characters. Its production studio announced an aggressive plan to target the global market with a sneak preview of Season 2. TUBA n, the production studio behind Larva, announced to licensees around the world of its plan to

1

2

produce Season 3 and 4 of Larva by 2016. More than 100 licensees and

3

4

agents from China, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, and Spain attended the presentation, showing a high level of interest in the animation. Vooz, best known for Canimal and Pucca, is accelerating its advance into overseas markets by producing a social networking game as well as launching Season 2 of Canimal. The company’s mobile game, Pucca Restaurant, was released in 2011 and made a big splash internationally.

84 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 85


Rapid Growth with Asia as a Foothold Korean animated characters are using Asian markets as a bridgehead in moving across the world, as the character market is thriving in countries such as China and Indonesia while doing quite poorly in most other parts of the world. Korean characters have achieved considerable qualitative growth, so their competitiveness is seen as expanding at a healthy rate globally. As one industry source said, “The competitiveness of Korean characters has increased because they’re not focusing simply on little Robocar Poli

Poli is the first foreign animation shown on a Chinese state-run channel

kids anymore. Plus they’re easily accessible as a result of new apps being developed. It’s also a positive sign that the status of Korean character

in prime time. In addition, the show’s entry into China’s TV market was more significant because it was a coproduction between a large company and mid-size venture. With this win-win effect, Hyundai has enhanced its

1. Kindergarten visits in Taiwan 2. A promotional event in Taiwan 3. Kindergarten visits in China 4. CCTV (China Central Television) aired

corporate image via its traffic safety campaign conducted through Robocar Poli, while ROI Visual maximizes the PR effect of its characters. The Airport Diary featured the world’s first airplane characters. Its production studio announced an aggressive plan to target the global market with a sneak preview of Season 2. TUBA n, the production studio behind Larva, announced to licensees around the world of its plan to

1

2

produce Season 3 and 4 of Larva by 2016. More than 100 licensees and

3

4

agents from China, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, and Spain attended the presentation, showing a high level of interest in the animation. Vooz, best known for Canimal and Pucca, is accelerating its advance into overseas markets by producing a social networking game as well as launching Season 2 of Canimal. The company’s mobile game, Pucca Restaurant, was released in 2011 and made a big splash internationally.

84 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 85


companies has increased around the world. One example of this is the recent acquisition of a large foreign toy maker by a Korean company.” According to the 2012 Contents Business Statistics: Character Industry, Korean character exports in 2011 reached USD 392.26 million, up 42 percent over the previous year. Of that amount, exports of characters to China amounted to USD 89.25 million, a rise of 80.8 percent over the previous year. Character exports to China and Southeast Asia are particularly booming, with an average increase of 45 percent. Hello, Jadoo

2012 Exports in the Korean Character Industry by Country (Unit: USD 1,000) 2009

2010

In 2013, the Korea Creative Contents Agency (KOCCA), the same agency responsible for holding the character fair, pursued cooperative measures

2011

for the first time in association with the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) for native Korean characters to enter the global market. Licensing professionals were invited from each continent, with specific information provided and business discussions on 43,593 49,368 89,257

China

21,332 27,226 45,255

East Asia

licensing exports held. Guests included the CEO and vice president of EXIM

51,338 59,668 82,358

Licensing Group (sales of KRW 1.8 trillion), the head of The Licensing Group

Europe

(sales of KRW 3.8 trillion) and executive members of LIMA. In addition, editors-in-chief of the internationally renowned magazines License! Global! and Total Licensing were invited. On the importance of this, Kwak Kyeongwon, Korean representative to the Licensing Industry Merchandise 14,631 16,457 20,256

74,513 85,327 102,565

Japan

North Ameria

31,114 38,282 52,575

etc

236,521 276,328 392,266

Total

Source: Korea Creative Contents Agency–2012 Content Industry Statistics

86 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Association (LIMA), said, “Korean characters are characterized by songs and dance routines, something very rare throughout the world. One important reason that Chinese people like Korean characters is that Chinese characters come in darker colors.”

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 87


companies has increased around the world. One example of this is the recent acquisition of a large foreign toy maker by a Korean company.” According to the 2012 Contents Business Statistics: Character Industry, Korean character exports in 2011 reached USD 392.26 million, up 42 percent over the previous year. Of that amount, exports of characters to China amounted to USD 89.25 million, a rise of 80.8 percent over the previous year. Character exports to China and Southeast Asia are particularly booming, with an average increase of 45 percent. Hello, Jadoo

2012 Exports in the Korean Character Industry by Country (Unit: USD 1,000) 2009

2010

In 2013, the Korea Creative Contents Agency (KOCCA), the same agency responsible for holding the character fair, pursued cooperative measures

2011

for the first time in association with the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) for native Korean characters to enter the global market. Licensing professionals were invited from each continent, with specific information provided and business discussions on 43,593 49,368 89,257

China

21,332 27,226 45,255

East Asia

licensing exports held. Guests included the CEO and vice president of EXIM

51,338 59,668 82,358

Licensing Group (sales of KRW 1.8 trillion), the head of The Licensing Group

Europe

(sales of KRW 3.8 trillion) and executive members of LIMA. In addition, editors-in-chief of the internationally renowned magazines License! Global! and Total Licensing were invited. On the importance of this, Kwak Kyeongwon, Korean representative to the Licensing Industry Merchandise 14,631 16,457 20,256

74,513 85,327 102,565

Japan

North Ameria

31,114 38,282 52,575

etc

236,521 276,328 392,266

Total

Source: Korea Creative Contents Agency–2012 Content Industry Statistics

86 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Association (LIMA), said, “Korean characters are characterized by songs and dance routines, something very rare throughout the world. One important reason that Chinese people like Korean characters is that Chinese characters come in darker colors.”

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 87


Animation Meets Video Games Another facet of the entertainment industry just as important as animation to Koreans is computer games. Considering that characters are an important component of both of these fields, it is inevitable for there to be an overlap between the two. Unlike the numerous Hollywood characters that crisscross between live-action films and games, in Korea, this character swapping occurs more often between animations and games. The front-runner here is none other than Pororo. The game developer Gravity created the children’s game “Pororo Games” as an introduction to Howard Gardner, a Harvard University professor of educational psychology famous for his multiple intelligences theory. “Pororo Games” went on to become the first Korean game played via IPTV. The theory suggests that besides IQ and EQ, other areas of intelligence are employed by the human mind. Designed for children ages 4–7, “Pororo Games,” Gravity says, was not simply intended to stimulate intelligence but also serve as a comprehensive tool in developing the mind by nurturing peer coordination skills and foster intimacy with their parents. “Pororo Magic Puzzle” was the first mobile game to feature the cute penguin and was released on the Korean messaging platform Kakao. Pororo and his friends even joined in other games. In the mobile shooting game Fly! Panda, Pororo, Crong, and Eddy were added as characters. In another collaboration, the three were featured in the mobile game “Super Penguin.” In the mobile game “Rule the Sky,” the Tutu’s Shop building was added

Dao, Bazzi and Luxury Marid © 2001 Nexon Korea Corp. All Rights Reserved

88 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Bolts and Blip

to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Pororo’s creation, and he continued to pop up in numerous other games such as “Pororo’s Hangar,” “Loopy’s Cooking Classroom,” and “Crong’s Fire Station.” Another character with popularity on par with Pororo is Larva from the mobile game

“Larva Link,” which has English- and Chinese-language versions in development. Pucca, Cocomong, Chicco, and other characters have appeared in a series of educational games for children with more than 100,000 downloads. The mobile game featuring Redrover characters Bolts and Blip was tops among games for the ages 6–11 category in the 2012 Cynopsis Kids Imagination Awards. “Tayo the Little Bus” was another mobile game that received a good reaction. Barunson Creative’s “PUCCA Power Up” for the Nintendo DS is set for release in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other areas and is predicted to be a wide success amongst youngsters. The practice of adapting game characters to animation is not uncommon. Popular characters Dao and Bazzi of game developer Nexon had their own TV animated series made in 2007, Dao & Bazzi’s Boomhill Adventure. The famous online game Fortress 2 was adapted for TV animation by a Korean-Japanese collaboration titled Tank Knight Portriss (2003). And of course, the Nexon online game MapleStory grew into a worldwide sensation. This game was made into an animated series in Japan and added costumes and props used in the animation. MapleStory (Cygnus Returns) © 2003 Nexon Korea Corp. All Rights Reserved

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 89


Animation Meets Video Games Another facet of the entertainment industry just as important as animation to Koreans is computer games. Considering that characters are an important component of both of these fields, it is inevitable for there to be an overlap between the two. Unlike the numerous Hollywood characters that crisscross between live-action films and games, in Korea, this character swapping occurs more often between animations and games. The front-runner here is none other than Pororo. The game developer Gravity created the children’s game “Pororo Games” as an introduction to Howard Gardner, a Harvard University professor of educational psychology famous for his multiple intelligences theory. “Pororo Games” went on to become the first Korean game played via IPTV. The theory suggests that besides IQ and EQ, other areas of intelligence are employed by the human mind. Designed for children ages 4–7, “Pororo Games,” Gravity says, was not simply intended to stimulate intelligence but also serve as a comprehensive tool in developing the mind by nurturing peer coordination skills and foster intimacy with their parents. “Pororo Magic Puzzle” was the first mobile game to feature the cute penguin and was released on the Korean messaging platform Kakao. Pororo and his friends even joined in other games. In the mobile shooting game Fly! Panda, Pororo, Crong, and Eddy were added as characters. In another collaboration, the three were featured in the mobile game “Super Penguin.” In the mobile game “Rule the Sky,” the Tutu’s Shop building was added

Dao, Bazzi and Luxury Marid © 2001 Nexon Korea Corp. All Rights Reserved

88 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Bolts and Blip

to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Pororo’s creation, and he continued to pop up in numerous other games such as “Pororo’s Hangar,” “Loopy’s Cooking Classroom,” and “Crong’s Fire Station.” Another character with popularity on par with Pororo is Larva from the mobile game

“Larva Link,” which has English- and Chinese-language versions in development. Pucca, Cocomong, Chicco, and other characters have appeared in a series of educational games for children with more than 100,000 downloads. The mobile game featuring Redrover characters Bolts and Blip was tops among games for the ages 6–11 category in the 2012 Cynopsis Kids Imagination Awards. “Tayo the Little Bus” was another mobile game that received a good reaction. Barunson Creative’s “PUCCA Power Up” for the Nintendo DS is set for release in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other areas and is predicted to be a wide success amongst youngsters. The practice of adapting game characters to animation is not uncommon. Popular characters Dao and Bazzi of game developer Nexon had their own TV animated series made in 2007, Dao & Bazzi’s Boomhill Adventure. The famous online game Fortress 2 was adapted for TV animation by a Korean-Japanese collaboration titled Tank Knight Portriss (2003). And of course, the Nexon online game MapleStory grew into a worldwide sensation. This game was made into an animated series in Japan and added costumes and props used in the animation. MapleStory (Cygnus Returns) © 2003 Nexon Korea Corp. All Rights Reserved

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 89


Star Characters

charming aspect to these characters is that they reflect children’s desire

Pororo and Friends: Animal Friends to Children around the World The economic success of Pororo the Little Penguin has been covered in the media countless times. Pororo and his friends, now internationally renowned characters, grew popular because of their unique personalities. These animals can never be made real. Pororo and Patty are penguins, Ruby a beaver, Harry a bird, Poby a bear, and Eddy a fox. Although these same animals might be part of the food chain in nature, they are friends in the show and kids really connect with that. Crong, an extinct dinosaur, also helps make Pororo’s world a unique realm for children with fundamentally different principles from the way adults think. Another St. Petersburg State Ballet Theater presented Pinocchio and Pororo Double Ice Show. (Feb 2012)

to make friends with animals. In addition, the shapes of the characters, which are similar to those of kids, elicit a strong sense of kinship with children. Finally, the only thing Crong can say is “crong, crong,” or similar to the speech pattern of very young children. The initial animation featured Pororo, Crong, Loopy, Eddy, and Poby. Patty and Harry were introduced in Season 2. Eddy’s Rody the Robot and the wizard dragon Tong-Tong were added in Season 3, upping the diversity of characters. In Season 4, the red car Tutu appeared. What is so endearing to children is that the characters do not overlap with one another, yet bring their own flair. Pororo, for example, is full of curiosity and noisy; Poby is a kind, reliable optimist; Eddy is a brilliant but pigheaded inventor; Loopy is a shy, sweet girl; Patty is sociable and outgoing; Crong is a typical naughty boy; and Harry is a cheerful character. This alone, however, does not explain their popularity. Ironically, what

Character goods (laptop)

Pororo 10th Anniversary

© ICONIX / OCON / EBS / SKbroadband

90 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 91


Star Characters

charming aspect to these characters is that they reflect children’s desire

Pororo and Friends: Animal Friends to Children around the World The economic success of Pororo the Little Penguin has been covered in the media countless times. Pororo and his friends, now internationally renowned characters, grew popular because of their unique personalities. These animals can never be made real. Pororo and Patty are penguins, Ruby a beaver, Harry a bird, Poby a bear, and Eddy a fox. Although these same animals might be part of the food chain in nature, they are friends in the show and kids really connect with that. Crong, an extinct dinosaur, also helps make Pororo’s world a unique realm for children with fundamentally different principles from the way adults think. Another St. Petersburg State Ballet Theater presented Pinocchio and Pororo Double Ice Show. (Feb 2012)

to make friends with animals. In addition, the shapes of the characters, which are similar to those of kids, elicit a strong sense of kinship with children. Finally, the only thing Crong can say is “crong, crong,” or similar to the speech pattern of very young children. The initial animation featured Pororo, Crong, Loopy, Eddy, and Poby. Patty and Harry were introduced in Season 2. Eddy’s Rody the Robot and the wizard dragon Tong-Tong were added in Season 3, upping the diversity of characters. In Season 4, the red car Tutu appeared. What is so endearing to children is that the characters do not overlap with one another, yet bring their own flair. Pororo, for example, is full of curiosity and noisy; Poby is a kind, reliable optimist; Eddy is a brilliant but pigheaded inventor; Loopy is a shy, sweet girl; Patty is sociable and outgoing; Crong is a typical naughty boy; and Harry is a cheerful character. This alone, however, does not explain their popularity. Ironically, what

Character goods (laptop)

Pororo 10th Anniversary

© ICONIX / OCON / EBS / SKbroadband

90 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 91


circles and straight lines without complicated details, is a large part of her popularity. Her character’s colors, black and red, are not ones traditionally used with animation characters. At the same time, her name comes from the sound of a baby’s cooing and is easily relatable to young viewers. Pucca is particularly adored in China, France, and Brazil. Additionally, the character is used by the fashion industry, accounting for more than KRW 8 billion in royalties from that sector in 2008 alone. Although a Flash animation series was made featuring the character, Pucca was mainly used in character products until she was incorporated into a drama through the TV animation Pucca. The 10-year-old Seoul Character & Licensing Fair 2013

daughter of Chinese noodle house owners, Pucca has been an excellent dancer since she was little. Before meeting

children love about them is that they do not teach examples to follow.

12-year-old Garu, however, who is interested in nothing but

The characters are never perfectly exemplary, but instead play tricks on

the martial arts, her life is quite uneventful. This is when the

each another, show signs of greed, grow angry, fight with one another,

story starts unfolding. Pucca falls in love with Garu, but he

and sometimes make a mess. This is exactly what marks the everyday life

apparently does not share the same feelings for her. This

of a child, allowing kids to connect with the characters while watching

animated series also introduced characters like Abyo,

them. This daily “normalcy” could be the biggest draw of the characters in

Ching, Ssoso, and Tobe into the “World of Pucca.”

Pororo the Little Penguin.

Pucca: Uniquely Attractive Debuting in 2000, Pucca has been loved for more than a decade. Reminiscent of a girl skilled in the martial arts, she was used to attract attention from overseas markets from the very beginning. The simplicity of her character, which can be drawn with a few Pucca © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

92 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Character goods © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 93


circles and straight lines without complicated details, is a large part of her popularity. Her character’s colors, black and red, are not ones traditionally used with animation characters. At the same time, her name comes from the sound of a baby’s cooing and is easily relatable to young viewers. Pucca is particularly adored in China, France, and Brazil. Additionally, the character is used by the fashion industry, accounting for more than KRW 8 billion in royalties from that sector in 2008 alone. Although a Flash animation series was made featuring the character, Pucca was mainly used in character products until she was incorporated into a drama through the TV animation Pucca. The 10-year-old Seoul Character & Licensing Fair 2013

daughter of Chinese noodle house owners, Pucca has been an excellent dancer since she was little. Before meeting

children love about them is that they do not teach examples to follow.

12-year-old Garu, however, who is interested in nothing but

The characters are never perfectly exemplary, but instead play tricks on

the martial arts, her life is quite uneventful. This is when the

each another, show signs of greed, grow angry, fight with one another,

story starts unfolding. Pucca falls in love with Garu, but he

and sometimes make a mess. This is exactly what marks the everyday life

apparently does not share the same feelings for her. This

of a child, allowing kids to connect with the characters while watching

animated series also introduced characters like Abyo,

them. This daily “normalcy” could be the biggest draw of the characters in

Ching, Ssoso, and Tobe into the “World of Pucca.”

Pororo the Little Penguin.

Pucca: Uniquely Attractive Debuting in 2000, Pucca has been loved for more than a decade. Reminiscent of a girl skilled in the martial arts, she was used to attract attention from overseas markets from the very beginning. The simplicity of her character, which can be drawn with a few Pucca © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

92 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Character goods © VOOZ Co.,Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 93


Buru & Forest Friends: Connecting Children with Nature Buru & Forest Friends popular in Europe, allows children living in urban areas to feel the beauty and friendliness of nature. Numerous insect characters play in helping to connect children to nature. The main character, Buru, is a stag beetle described as innocent, brave, and righteous. He gets locked up in a box at someone’s apartment. He misses his friends dearly, and realizes how important it is to have a free life. Sometimes he even becomes a transformer beetle. So, who are his forest friends? First is the shy firefly Mimi, the warm-hearted and sympathetic heroine. Then come the chivalrous beetle Jangpungyi; Bangja, the big talking grasshopper; Yala & Pong, the talkative ladybug sisters; Kiri, the ugly cockroach; and Jjaga, the villain earwig. The design of the insects, which is neither detailed nor simple, also appeals to children because it shows each insect’s characteristics clearly. Hunny (hoenybee)

BURU (stag beetle)

MIMI (firefly)

94 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

JANGPUNGYI (beetle)

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 95


Buru & Forest Friends: Connecting Children with Nature Buru & Forest Friends popular in Europe, allows children living in urban areas to feel the beauty and friendliness of nature. Numerous insect characters play in helping to connect children to nature. The main character, Buru, is a stag beetle described as innocent, brave, and righteous. He gets locked up in a box at someone’s apartment. He misses his friends dearly, and realizes how important it is to have a free life. Sometimes he even becomes a transformer beetle. So, who are his forest friends? First is the shy firefly Mimi, the warm-hearted and sympathetic heroine. Then come the chivalrous beetle Jangpungyi; Bangja, the big talking grasshopper; Yala & Pong, the talkative ladybug sisters; Kiri, the ugly cockroach; and Jjaga, the villain earwig. The design of the insects, which is neither detailed nor simple, also appeals to children because it shows each insect’s characteristics clearly. Hunny (hoenybee)

BURU (stag beetle)

MIMI (firefly)

94 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

JANGPUNGYI (beetle)

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 95


Larva: Bringing a Gust of Laughter to Everyone Larva’s biggest charm lies in its aesthetic simplicity. Two larvae called Red and Yellow star in this animated series, with each episode being only 100 seconds long. There is no dialogue between them, just sound effects and slapstick elements that make it very comic. Yellow is gluttonous, a bit silly, and always mistreated by Red. Sometimes Yellow does not know what to do when around food, but in the end he usually follows what Red does. Red is a larva with an aggressive temper and sometimes lets out a horrible shriek. Larva focuses on all kinds of accidents and events happening to Yellow and Red, which viewers need not think too hard about and just laugh. The larvae’s character flaws make them always fight with neighbors in a drain. At times they go and rob ants and bees of their hard-earned food, which brings an emotional release to children. Their peculiar rhythm created by their sounds is also a hit with viewers.

Backkom (Bernard) : The Lovable Troublemaker As the main character of the animated feature film Backkom Mug Travel grew more popular, this led to the production of a TV animated series that chronicled Backkom’s experiences after coming to the city from the North Pole. His zany behavior is a highlight of this animation, and with constant slapstick moments, children are sure to be kept laughing. Backkom was popular in the U.K., France, and Germany before it enjoyed even more popularity in China. Although a troublemaker, Backkom is still likable, and this is his biggest draw. He hates to lose and is unexpectedly pig-headed. Another funny trait sure to evoke laughter is that he says nothing except a weird “woowoong” sound wherever he goes. Backkom was recently produced as a musical.

96 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 97


Larva: Bringing a Gust of Laughter to Everyone Larva’s biggest charm lies in its aesthetic simplicity. Two larvae called Red and Yellow star in this animated series, with each episode being only 100 seconds long. There is no dialogue between them, just sound effects and slapstick elements that make it very comic. Yellow is gluttonous, a bit silly, and always mistreated by Red. Sometimes Yellow does not know what to do when around food, but in the end he usually follows what Red does. Red is a larva with an aggressive temper and sometimes lets out a horrible shriek. Larva focuses on all kinds of accidents and events happening to Yellow and Red, which viewers need not think too hard about and just laugh. The larvae’s character flaws make them always fight with neighbors in a drain. At times they go and rob ants and bees of their hard-earned food, which brings an emotional release to children. Their peculiar rhythm created by their sounds is also a hit with viewers.

Backkom (Bernard) : The Lovable Troublemaker As the main character of the animated feature film Backkom Mug Travel grew more popular, this led to the production of a TV animated series that chronicled Backkom’s experiences after coming to the city from the North Pole. His zany behavior is a highlight of this animation, and with constant slapstick moments, children are sure to be kept laughing. Backkom was popular in the U.K., France, and Germany before it enjoyed even more popularity in China. Although a troublemaker, Backkom is still likable, and this is his biggest draw. He hates to lose and is unexpectedly pig-headed. Another funny trait sure to evoke laughter is that he says nothing except a weird “woowoong” sound wherever he goes. Backkom was recently produced as a musical.

96 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 97


YooHoo & Friends: Endangered Animals Turn Into Adorable Characters With the theory of multiple intelligences applied to it, this animation has a message about the environment. Five animals growing trees of life in the beautiful garden of Greenet (Yootopia) are the main characters. They come to Earth to protect Greenet from pollution and track down green seeds. The main character, YooHoo, is a bush baby from East Africa. He is adventurous and seeks out justice. Pammee is a fennec fox. She is sensitive to danger and likes to play and converse. She is pure at heart. Roodee is a smart monkeyà capuchin monkey who can invent many things. The red squirrel Chewoo is curious and quick-tempered. The ring-tailed lemur Lemmee is grumpy and often complains. YooHoo & Friends © Aurora World Corp.

Character Dolls © Aurora World Corp.

The characters are very lovable with their big, round eyes and cute visual images similar to Mogwai in the movie Gremlins. The animation shows rare animals from different continents: the panda RingRing, the Javan rhinoceros Rino, and the tarsier Josee from Asia; the scarlet macaw Lora from South America; Pookee, Poppee and Peppee, a trio of meerkats from Africa; the platypus Tiki from Oceania; and the striped skunk Sparkee from the U.S. These adorable characters saw the global success of toy sales with 34 million units sold since launching in 2007, followed by Happy Meal promotion by McDonald’s in more than 40 European countries at 6,000 stores. Also, new TV series are slated for the release in early 2014.

98 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 99


YooHoo & Friends: Endangered Animals Turn Into Adorable Characters With the theory of multiple intelligences applied to it, this animation has a message about the environment. Five animals growing trees of life in the beautiful garden of Greenet (Yootopia) are the main characters. They come to Earth to protect Greenet from pollution and track down green seeds. The main character, YooHoo, is a bush baby from East Africa. He is adventurous and seeks out justice. Pammee is a fennec fox. She is sensitive to danger and likes to play and converse. She is pure at heart. Roodee is a smart monkeyà capuchin monkey who can invent many things. The red squirrel Chewoo is curious and quick-tempered. The ring-tailed lemur Lemmee is grumpy and often complains. YooHoo & Friends © Aurora World Corp.

Character Dolls © Aurora World Corp.

The characters are very lovable with their big, round eyes and cute visual images similar to Mogwai in the movie Gremlins. The animation shows rare animals from different continents: the panda RingRing, the Javan rhinoceros Rino, and the tarsier Josee from Asia; the scarlet macaw Lora from South America; Pookee, Poppee and Peppee, a trio of meerkats from Africa; the platypus Tiki from Oceania; and the striped skunk Sparkee from the U.S. These adorable characters saw the global success of toy sales with 34 million units sold since launching in 2007, followed by Happy Meal promotion by McDonald’s in more than 40 European countries at 6,000 stores. Also, new TV series are slated for the release in early 2014.

98 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 99


Animation Theme Park From the 1990s, Korea’s need for a character-centered theme park became a topic of conversation. The director of “Young-gu Art Films,” Shim Hyungrae, announced plans to erect a theme park using popular characters such as Young-gu and Yonggary, and a park for Robot Taekwon V was proposed as well. In 2004, a theme park centered on the character Dalki was opened. The success of such efforts, however, depended on finding characters that could draw crowds. In this sense, we can say that the characters from Pororo the Little Penguin played a pioneering role in developing the Korean animation theme park industry. In development since 2007, Pororo Park had seven locations simultaneously opened in April 2011 across Korea: Seoul, Ilsan, Paju, Cheongju, Gwangju and etc. One of the park’s key characteristics was “edutainment,” or the concept of combining fun with education through games, lessons and performances. The park, unlike other theme parks in the suburbs, is a combination of playground and amusement park located inside a mega shopping mall. The Cocomong character also got its own theme park, Cocomong Kids Land. In keeping with the concept of the animation, the unique characteristic of this eco-park on Jejudo Island and Yongin was the idea of being one with nature. To teach city children how to adapt to an eco-friendly lifestyle, it emphasized experience over games. An exhibition area had the participation of artists from Cocomong

100 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 101


Animation Theme Park From the 1990s, Korea’s need for a character-centered theme park became a topic of conversation. The director of “Young-gu Art Films,” Shim Hyungrae, announced plans to erect a theme park using popular characters such as Young-gu and Yonggary, and a park for Robot Taekwon V was proposed as well. In 2004, a theme park centered on the character Dalki was opened. The success of such efforts, however, depended on finding characters that could draw crowds. In this sense, we can say that the characters from Pororo the Little Penguin played a pioneering role in developing the Korean animation theme park industry. In development since 2007, Pororo Park had seven locations simultaneously opened in April 2011 across Korea: Seoul, Ilsan, Paju, Cheongju, Gwangju and etc. One of the park’s key characteristics was “edutainment,” or the concept of combining fun with education through games, lessons and performances. The park, unlike other theme parks in the suburbs, is a combination of playground and amusement park located inside a mega shopping mall. The Cocomong character also got its own theme park, Cocomong Kids Land. In keeping with the concept of the animation, the unique characteristic of this eco-park on Jejudo Island and Yongin was the idea of being one with nature. To teach city children how to adapt to an eco-friendly lifestyle, it emphasized experience over games. An exhibition area had the participation of artists from Cocomong

100 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 101


Cocomong Eco Park (Jeju)

Dooly theme park and museum (a bird's-eye view)

various fields and helped the park offer a whole new experience for them. Kids’ cafes and a combination of children’s playground and parents’ rest area are also available. In Seoul’s Dobong-gu district, the setting for the cartoon Dooly the Little Dinosaur, a Dooly theme park and museum are under construction in the vicinity of Ssangmun Park. The target date for completion of this project is Dec 2014. The floor plan is as follows: the Sunken Garden in the basement; an experiential playground on the ground floor; an art museum and library on the second; and a sky playground on the third. The building’s surrounding areas will have an educational ecological pond, playground, labyrinth-style garden and other places all built under the idea of creating a cultural center with animation-related content on display. An animation theater and interactive center will be other highlights of the facility.

102 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 103


Cocomong Eco Park (Jeju)

Dooly theme park and museum (a bird's-eye view)

various fields and helped the park offer a whole new experience for them. Kids’ cafes and a combination of children’s playground and parents’ rest area are also available. In Seoul’s Dobong-gu district, the setting for the cartoon Dooly the Little Dinosaur, a Dooly theme park and museum are under construction in the vicinity of Ssangmun Park. The target date for completion of this project is Dec 2014. The floor plan is as follows: the Sunken Garden in the basement; an experiential playground on the ground floor; an art museum and library on the second; and a sky playground on the third. The building’s surrounding areas will have an educational ecological pond, playground, labyrinth-style garden and other places all built under the idea of creating a cultural center with animation-related content on display. An animation theater and interactive center will be other highlights of the facility.

102 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 103


Prospects for the Webtoon Market

Marine Blues

The term “webtoon,” a neologism combining the words “website” and “cartoon,” refers to comics and short animations that are viewable on the Internet. Webtoons, which can be accessed via personal websites, portal sites, news sites and others, include both regularly updated comics and Flash animations (which are created using the Flash video software). It all began in the early 2000s, when amateur cartoonists and character designers displayed their works on their personal websites. Now, such works are largely put on portal sites and becoming a big facet of the entertainment industry. The first kind of webtoon was the “diary toon,” a genre in which artists drew comics based on their everyday life the way one might keep a journal. This period saw works like Papepopo Memories, Snow Cat, and Marine Blues in 2004, when portal sites began to recognize the potential of webtoons. This trend was accelerated after Media Daum signed an exclusive contract with star author Kang Full, reinforcing the strength of the webtoon market. Web culture then began to gravitate more toward webtoons, and has since entered an age of endless competition of sorts and slowly beginning to cross over to other mediums. The first such phenomenon came through communication with readers. The biggest difference between comic books and webtoons is the speed at which reader reactions can be gauged. Viewers can leave comments expressing their opinions, and through video commentaries and parodies, a second round of content is produced. Certain authors even go on to reference or insert those contents in their next installments. In short, webtoons have taken cartooning to another level, going from a producer-consumer model to an interactive one. Webtoons have the ability to react quickly to societal issues, and for

104 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

a particularly important matter, many webtoonists create and publish joint works. Just as cartoons published in book or newspaper form served as the backgrounds or inspiration for TV dramas or animation in the past, webtoons are beginning to assert their status as the definitive “origin story” in Korean pop culture. They are reinterpreting film media and stage art but the greatest emphasis has been on narrativity. Webtoons with particularly strong narratives are receiving interest from many other forms of media; author Kang’s works could be called the leader of the pack. The first webtoon to be adapted into a movie was Apartment in 2006. This ushered in an era of webtoon collaborations with cinema that included Fool (2008), Love Story (2008), I Love You (2011), and 26 Years (2012), all based on author Kang’s books. Cartoonist Kang Doha’s The Great Catsby was made into a cable TV series and musical. Another example of a crossover work was Park Kwangsoo’s newspaper serial Kwangsoo’s Thoughts, which was adapted into a long-running stage play. The crossover process was not always smooth, however. As in the case of Apartment, the subtle humor and nuances were all gone, and the film adaptation was more in the vein of stereotypical horror. This caused a surge of criticism from fans of the original webtoon. Dasepo Naughty Girls teaches another valuable lesson. Its storyline was so detailed that to summarize faithfully was hard, and its frank sexual descriptions, character depth, and runtime restrictions for films in general were not suitable for a webtoon. The result was hardly good. Kang’s Fool, on the other hand, was too faithful to the original and disappointed audiences who were looking for new elements in the webtoon. The movie that confirmed the explosive potential of webtoons at the box office was Moss (2010). This work was an adaptation of cartoonist Yoon Tae-ho’s webtoon to film by director Kang Woo-suk, and while keeping the original’s spatial confines and character tones, Kang Woo-suk created a standalone work by making changes to the original story. After overcoming many difficulties, 26 Years finally made it big at the box office, rewarding the producers for all of their trouble. This success helped make film adaptations of webtoons a more familiar concept to the masses. As expected, Neighbor, another adaptation of a Kang Full work, received just as much love. Released in 2013, the film Secretly, Greatly had its reception and box office performance reflective of the explosive combination of handsome young stars and webtoon characters. Webtoons are no longer restricted to just the Web. because of their expansion to published works, films, TV dramas, musicals, stage plays and other genres, they have become another source of multimedia franchises. Efforts have also gone into entering animation, with webtoons such as Miho Story and Cheollima Mart made into animated shorts aired in 2011 on the cable TV channel Tooniverse. Another example was MBC’s Welcome to Wara Store, which was aired as a 24-episode animated series. Others such as God of Bath and Pandadog were used in mobile games.

The Great Catsby

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 105


Prospects for the Webtoon Market

Marine Blues

The term “webtoon,” a neologism combining the words “website” and “cartoon,” refers to comics and short animations that are viewable on the Internet. Webtoons, which can be accessed via personal websites, portal sites, news sites and others, include both regularly updated comics and Flash animations (which are created using the Flash video software). It all began in the early 2000s, when amateur cartoonists and character designers displayed their works on their personal websites. Now, such works are largely put on portal sites and becoming a big facet of the entertainment industry. The first kind of webtoon was the “diary toon,” a genre in which artists drew comics based on their everyday life the way one might keep a journal. This period saw works like Papepopo Memories, Snow Cat, and Marine Blues in 2004, when portal sites began to recognize the potential of webtoons. This trend was accelerated after Media Daum signed an exclusive contract with star author Kang Full, reinforcing the strength of the webtoon market. Web culture then began to gravitate more toward webtoons, and has since entered an age of endless competition of sorts and slowly beginning to cross over to other mediums. The first such phenomenon came through communication with readers. The biggest difference between comic books and webtoons is the speed at which reader reactions can be gauged. Viewers can leave comments expressing their opinions, and through video commentaries and parodies, a second round of content is produced. Certain authors even go on to reference or insert those contents in their next installments. In short, webtoons have taken cartooning to another level, going from a producer-consumer model to an interactive one. Webtoons have the ability to react quickly to societal issues, and for

104 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

a particularly important matter, many webtoonists create and publish joint works. Just as cartoons published in book or newspaper form served as the backgrounds or inspiration for TV dramas or animation in the past, webtoons are beginning to assert their status as the definitive “origin story” in Korean pop culture. They are reinterpreting film media and stage art but the greatest emphasis has been on narrativity. Webtoons with particularly strong narratives are receiving interest from many other forms of media; author Kang’s works could be called the leader of the pack. The first webtoon to be adapted into a movie was Apartment in 2006. This ushered in an era of webtoon collaborations with cinema that included Fool (2008), Love Story (2008), I Love You (2011), and 26 Years (2012), all based on author Kang’s books. Cartoonist Kang Doha’s The Great Catsby was made into a cable TV series and musical. Another example of a crossover work was Park Kwangsoo’s newspaper serial Kwangsoo’s Thoughts, which was adapted into a long-running stage play. The crossover process was not always smooth, however. As in the case of Apartment, the subtle humor and nuances were all gone, and the film adaptation was more in the vein of stereotypical horror. This caused a surge of criticism from fans of the original webtoon. Dasepo Naughty Girls teaches another valuable lesson. Its storyline was so detailed that to summarize faithfully was hard, and its frank sexual descriptions, character depth, and runtime restrictions for films in general were not suitable for a webtoon. The result was hardly good. Kang’s Fool, on the other hand, was too faithful to the original and disappointed audiences who were looking for new elements in the webtoon. The movie that confirmed the explosive potential of webtoons at the box office was Moss (2010). This work was an adaptation of cartoonist Yoon Tae-ho’s webtoon to film by director Kang Woo-suk, and while keeping the original’s spatial confines and character tones, Kang Woo-suk created a standalone work by making changes to the original story. After overcoming many difficulties, 26 Years finally made it big at the box office, rewarding the producers for all of their trouble. This success helped make film adaptations of webtoons a more familiar concept to the masses. As expected, Neighbor, another adaptation of a Kang Full work, received just as much love. Released in 2013, the film Secretly, Greatly had its reception and box office performance reflective of the explosive combination of handsome young stars and webtoon characters. Webtoons are no longer restricted to just the Web. because of their expansion to published works, films, TV dramas, musicals, stage plays and other genres, they have become another source of multimedia franchises. Efforts have also gone into entering animation, with webtoons such as Miho Story and Cheollima Mart made into animated shorts aired in 2011 on the cable TV channel Tooniverse. Another example was MBC’s Welcome to Wara Store, which was aired as a 24-episode animated series. Others such as God of Bath and Pandadog were used in mobile games.

The Great Catsby

Heroes of K-Animation: Popular Characters 105


APPENDIX Websites on K-Animation Animation Museum (in Chuncheon, South Korea) http://www.animationmuseum.com

About the Author

ASK (The Animation Society of Korea) http://koreananimation.org KIAFA (Korea Independent Animation Filmmakers Association) http://kiafa.org/eng/main.php Korean Movie Database http://www.kmdb.or.kr/eng Seoul Animation Center http://www.ani.seoul.kr/eng

Animation Festivals International Animation Festival Hiroshima http://hiroanim.org Ottawa International Animation Festival http://www.animationfestival.ca

Kim Hyung-suk Film journalist Born in Seoul in 1971, Kim graduated with a history degree from Korea University and worked from 1993 to 1997 at the cinematheque Culture School Seoul (currently Seoul Art Cinema). He began doing film journalism in the mid-1990s, and he completed coursework in a graduate program in film studies at Dongguk University. He joined the monthly film magazine Screen in 2000, and he also took part in launching the weekly movie magazine Movie Week in 2001. After a stint as the editor of Screen, he left the company in 2009, and since then he has been working as a freelance journalist. Currently, Kim does work as a content provider for Naver Movies, where he has written various articles to help the public understand movies and animation better, including “Top 15 Korean Animated Movies.� He is a regular contributor for a variety of publications, including Magazine M (published by the JoongAng Ilbo), the web magazine Max Movie, Beyond (inflight magazine of Korean Air), and the Ilyo Shinmun.

SICAF (Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival) http://new.sicaf.org/xe/INDEX_eng Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film http://www.itfs.de/en The Annecy International Animated Film Festival http://www.annecy.org Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films http://www.animafest.hr/en

106 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Credits Planner Writer Translator

Korean Culture and Information Service Kim Hyung-suk Richard H. Harris, Alice J. Cheong

Edited & Designed by Seoul Selection


APPENDIX Websites on K-Animation Animation Museum (in Chuncheon, South Korea) http://www.animationmuseum.com

About the Author

ASK (The Animation Society of Korea) http://koreananimation.org KIAFA (Korea Independent Animation Filmmakers Association) http://kiafa.org/eng/main.php Korean Movie Database http://www.kmdb.or.kr/eng Seoul Animation Center http://www.ani.seoul.kr/eng

Animation Festivals International Animation Festival Hiroshima http://hiroanim.org Ottawa International Animation Festival http://www.animationfestival.ca

Kim Hyung-suk Film journalist Born in Seoul in 1971, Kim graduated with a history degree from Korea University and worked from 1993 to 1997 at the cinematheque Culture School Seoul (currently Seoul Art Cinema). He began doing film journalism in the mid-1990s, and he completed coursework in a graduate program in film studies at Dongguk University. He joined the monthly film magazine Screen in 2000, and he also took part in launching the weekly movie magazine Movie Week in 2001. After a stint as the editor of Screen, he left the company in 2009, and since then he has been working as a freelance journalist. Currently, Kim does work as a content provider for Naver Movies, where he has written various articles to help the public understand movies and animation better, including “Top 15 Korean Animated Movies.� He is a regular contributor for a variety of publications, including Magazine M (published by the JoongAng Ilbo), the web magazine Max Movie, Beyond (inflight magazine of Korean Air), and the Ilyo Shinmun.

SICAF (Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival) http://new.sicaf.org/xe/INDEX_eng Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film http://www.itfs.de/en The Annecy International Animated Film Festival http://www.annecy.org Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films http://www.animafest.hr/en

106 K-ANIMATION Befriending Children All Over the World

Credits Planner Writer Translator

Korean Culture and Information Service Kim Hyung-suk Richard H. Harris, Alice J. Cheong

Edited & Designed by Seoul Selection


Photographs Animation Museum Hong Gil-dong (1967) ATOONZ Hello, Jadoo DAEWON MEDIA Gon, Dokgo Tak, Shin Amhaengeosa, Young Shim, Hany, Hamos the Green Chariot Daum Webtoon The Great Catsby Dongwoo A&E Flying Pig Pirate Mateo, BASToF Lemon, KARA the Animation Dooly Nara Dooly the Little Dinosaur DPS The Airport Diary ICONIX Pororo the Little Penguin, Lazy Cat Dinga INDIESTORY INC. Angel (2001), O-Nu-Ri (2003) Jo Beom-jin Aachi & Ssipak (2006) JM Animation Avatar—The Last Airbender Kims Licensing Marine Blues Mago21 Oseam (2003) MQBIG Buru & Forest Friends Myung Films Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011) Nelson Shin & Animatoon Empress Chung Nexon Dao, Bazzi, Luxury Marid, MapleStory OCON Pororo, The Racing Adventure (2012) Olive Studios Cocomong Redrover The Nut Job, Bolts & Blip RG Animation Studios Backkom Roi Visual Robocar Poli SAMG Animation Studio 7Cs Seoul Animation Center Siz Entertainment My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002) Starcon Entertainment Star Chaser STUDIO DADASHOW The King of Pigs (2011) Studio Meditation With a Pencil Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2010) Sunwoo Entertainment Yobi, the Five-tailed Fox (2006) Tuba Entertainment Larva VOOZ Canimal, Pucca Yonhap Photo

*Animation images are printed courtesy of the producers and distributors, who retain the copyright to those images.


Korean Culture No.11

K-Animation

The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) was inaugurated as the Overseas Information Center under the Ministry of Culture and Information in 1971. Its aim is to introduce Korean culture to the world and to raise Korea’s national profile. KOCIS has worked to consolidate ties with countries all over the world through cultural exchange. It continues working today to explore new ways of bringing Korean art and culture to the citizens of the world.

N

ow K-animation is providing another outstanding avenue for sharing Korean culture, this time with

children everywhere. South Korea is one of the largest suppliers of television animation in the world. Children’s computer animation is one area in particular where K-animation is making rapid strides. K-animations are designed by Korean

Befriending Children All Over the World

About

K Animation Befriending Children All Over the World

About the series The Korean Culture series is one of the Korean Culture and Information Service’s projects to furnish international readers with insights into and basic understanding of the dynamic and diverse aspects of contemporary Korean culture.

companies with foreign film and television audiences in mind. More and more, foreign companies are investing or participating in the process.

Korean Culture and Information Service

K-animation 표지(세네카)-민정.indd 1

2013-12-13 오후 1:54:36

201401k animation en  
201401k animation en  
Advertisement