Tuesday, August 21, 2007

[The Chosun Ilbo, August 21 2007] Korea Makes Big Strides in Global Character Industry

Korea is home to Pororo, an animated penguin whose only dream is to be able to fly. In 2004, when the cartoon "Pororo the Little Penguin" hit television screens in France through TF1, the country's most popular network, the aspiring penguin was welcomed with a record-high 47 percent viewing rate.


As the success of Pororo and Pucca illustrates, Korea has become a rising star in the global character business, the very core of the cultural content industry. More and more Koreans are turning their eyes to this promising and growing business as it marches towards success not only in Asia but also in Europe, the U.S. and Japan.


Experts say the overseas success can be attributed to a combination of global strategy and Korean IT. Chicaloca, a fashion character created in 2005 by Project 109, a character-specialist firm, will meet Japanese consumers in the apparel market following her success in Greece, Russia, Australia and New Zealand through licensing deals for stationery and bags. The firm plans to take Chicaloca to the U.S. next year.


Korea's advanced information technology did its part in the development of the character. Korean characters are mostly created with 3D computer software. Characters used to be created through a laborious system of drawing on paper, but IT advancements enable much easier creation of elaborate images.

Jung Mi-kyeong, executive director of Iconix Entertainment, the creator of Pororo said, "Right now 3D is 'it' in the business. 3D characters are much more versatile than the 2D characters popular in Japan."

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