Animation in Korea: K-Animation Season

5 thoughts on “Animation in Korea: K-Animation Season”

  1. This should prove a very interesting study. I have a feeling that you’ll find K-Anime as diverse as Japanese, but fascinating nonetheless.

    Sky Blue/Wonderful Days I seem to remember getting pretty wide release in the UK and US, possibly because (from the sounds of it – I’ve not seen it either!) it conforms to Anime stereotypes, at least in terms of action and sci fi.

    Very astute to pick up on the Simpsons and various other Fox TV (and other US) productions made in Korea, as many Korean animators start their careers there. I was lucky enough to go to the première of Green Days at LKFF 2010 (which I believe was the world première!) and co-creator An Jae-hoon admitted he worked there. Didn’t sound like he enjoyed it very much!

    Green Days’ An and Han Hye-Jin also seem to have worked on a TV anime of a popular K-drama, Winter Sonata, which might be worth investigating. It seems to be as popular in Japan as the original series, but I’m way out of my depth talking about K-drama already! 🙁

    1. I’m looking forward to finding some gems, which I’m sure will be there, whether fully polished or still rough around the edges – which I never mind: I love when films give you a hint of someone’s potential, even if they haven’t realised it fully yet. Indeed creations that are rough around the edges and made by newbie filmmakers can often be so much more refreshing than the overly perfect but increasingly stale productions of long-established directors.

      Reviews for Sky Blue seem to indicate rather mixed opinions (the agreement seems to be visuals good, story meh), I don’t expect to be wowed over by it but I intend to see as many K-animations as possible just to get a sense of the industry there.

      I don’t think the comment about outsourced productions is not so astute – this aspect of Korean animation talent being used by other countries seems to be quite well known (indeed, it seems a Banksy episode of The Simpsons caused some controversy because it brought some unfortunate situations to light).

      I’ll be able to deal with connections to K-dramas – I do watch them. I often prefer doramas because slice-of-life, realistic stories are more common there, while K-dramas have a tendency to be escape-life and feature too many damsels-in-distress for my liking.

  2. “Which are the leading animation studios in Korea, either for TV anime series or feature-length animations or both? Or are animations primarily indie-produced, one-off projects?”

    Hmm, at any time there are more than 90 animation studios around South Korea however there have been as many as 120 studios (depending on how you define a studio) working out of cramped conditions in very small offices or even apartments. More often than not it’s an inbetweener who has started his/her own studio and is doing the overflow of manual work for other studios. Often these little start ups close down after a year or two.

    The biggest studios are Nelson Shin’s ‘Akom’ and then there’s Dong Woo, Saerim and Sunwoo.
    There’s also Rough Draft Korea (RDK) who bring to life soooo much that is on Western TV nowadays.
    Studio Meditation With a Pencil (MWP) are very hip in that they are they animation side of a company that makes real life TV dramas. MWP then turns the real life drama into an animation.

    The place where everything comes together however is Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival (SICAF) where all the old animators meet to recall the old days.
    It’s at SICAF where you see the famous animators in South Korea and can even get an autograph.

    Nelson Shin and Kim Chong Gee are always seen there and a few years back I even saw the very elderly father of Korean animation, Mr Shin Dong Hong (sometimes translated as Mong, not Hong) walking around in his beret.
    He may have passed away now for all I know because he was very elderly- put it this way, he grew up in the annexed Korea under the Japanese and was later imprisoned by the North and then the Americans during the Korean war in 1952.
    He’s the father of Korean animation because his early short films were some of the very first and he also made the first feature length film ‘Hong Gil Dong’ in 67.
    All copies of Hong Gil Dong are long lost now and sadly, much of Sth Korea’s early 50’s+60’s animation is missing- searching it out and finding lost film stock is a bit like treasure hunting.

    You can find old videos but not too much from the 70’s has been released to DVD because it’s blatantly knock-off product.
    Sth Korea has since agreed to WTO protocals and even though the WTO has collapsed in some ways, it’s still likely Hollywood wouldn’t accept knock off Wonderwoman or knockoff Batman being sold in the West.

    I collect the posters from those knockoffs but the South Koreans won’t sell the old posters anymore as originals are very very rare indeed.

    Good luck with your quest to discover more.


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