Korean animation

Although manhwa today is a genre that contains numerous comic book titles competing directly with Japanese manga, Korean animation is almost unheard of in the West. Korean animation is several decades old (watch these videos), but still it is "relatively young." In its early years, most Korean cartoons were pirated off of Japanese animation's, so they couldn't be exported (although this practice did help sustain the industry). Eventually, around the 1990s, S. Korean animators got to export overseas, but their works were all subcontracts with foreign companies; for example, PowerPuff Girls, Simpsons, etc. were all drawn in S. Korea, but they are still known as American cartoons. During the same period, the S. Korean animation industry produced several commendable titles, such as Dooly, Hamos, Honggildong, Lazenca, and Restol, but most of them were not exported b/c no one wanted them. Rare appearances of Korean cartoons such as Cubix (which was based in a completely cosmopolitan setting without a single trace of anything Korean in it) on western tv channels were not enough to elicit interests about the Korean animation itself as a genre.

After year 2000, Korean animation did shine a bit with high-quality works such as Wonderful Days, but the situation essentially has remained the same as before. The number of animation series produced in S. Korea annually is still very small, and exports remain minimal. Partly the reason for this situation is that S. Korea is a very small country. Japan, for example, is 3 times as big as S. Korea in terms of population and landmass; therefore, it makes sense that S. Korean animation should be smaller in volume than the Japanese anime. But S. Korean animation isn't 1/3rd the size of Japanese anime; it's more like 1/1000th. I think it's because there is this feedback effect between the market size and production (i.e. $10 million Wonderful Days only made $2 million at the S. Korean box office) due to the fact that, at a similar production cost, Korean animation industry can sow only as much as a 1/3rd of the profit that the Japanese anime industry would make. There is a similar relationship between distribution and the size of a pre-existing fanbase. It's much more difficult for a Korean animation series to be licensed and released in the United States because there is no one who will buy it & sponsor it. It's hard for people outside of S. Korea to even get updated or informed about Korean animation because no one writes about them. Why? Because no one's interested. Why? Because no one writes about them. See the feedback effect?

(Yobi, The Five-Tailed Fox)

If you're interested, here are some Korean animation works from the recent years. The titles are linked to reviews.

(Oseam poster)

3 articles about Korean animation:


sminut13 said...

wow you have great reviews, i too have interest in this area though my reviews are just personal and not so detailed i guess. and it also has dramas, mangas and wat nots though it's a new blog and am just getting started.

dokebi said...

gj with your blog

i dont think there are too many blogs with reviews on taiwanese dramas, so u have a special niche

J said...

i dont know if you were a viewer of cartoons in korea during the 90s, but there was this one cartoon (perhaps it was an anime.. but i dont think it was) i dont recall the name. all i recall was that it had two characters from earth who are transported to a different world where they then gain super powers. one man is the school janitor or a drunk teacher or something, and he gains super strength and the other is a kid who is the protagonist. within this show there are also three women with elemental powers and a princess who the boy falls in love with.

anyhow. if any of this rings a bell please please please give me the answer. if otherwise keep up the good work with the blog. i definitely remember hamos and lazenca :)

dokebi said...

Well let's see... you could see if the title is at the Korean wikipedia's entry on Korean animation.

The most memorable animations were Fly Superboard (based on Son Wukong), Eunbi and Kkabi's olden past, Speed king Beon-ge (lightning), something with a family with a mummy, dracula, etc., and a story about a dokebi

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