Although in this day and age, what isn’t a Korean cartoon? Look carefully at the credits whenever watching anything animated; I’ll bet more than half the names are Korean!
If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ve probably noticed a reoccurring bespectacled cartoon penguin on a handful of snacks and drinks.
This friendly looking little guy is named Pororo, and he’s one of the biggest K-celebs out there for children! He is a cute blue and white 5-year-old penguin, sporting an aviator helmet and goggles, who dreams of flying and lives on a snowy island with his friends. Young children learn valuable moral lessons from Pororo and his friends with every episode they watch, and his influence is visible everywhere in Korea. When I took a personal trip to Seoul last summer, I found him plastered all over the subway stations!
Many say however, that the most popular cartoon airing right now in Korea for children is LARVA; yes, you read that correctly, Larva. Larva is a CG animated cartoon series that began in 2011, that features Yellow, a large, dumb, slow, yellow-colored larva, and Red, a violent, greedy, and hot-tempered red-colored larva.
It’s got innocent violence, silly shenanigans, fart jokes, and…poop.
I really don’t get the appeal of it, but hey, I’m not the target audience, and the kids just love it!
Korea has a long history of animation and cartoons. Growing up, the character that I was most familiar with was Dooly! If you’re a fan of K-celebs, you’ve probably heard at least one of them singing his theme song:
Dooly’s “Hoi Hoi~” is his magic spell that is a popular sound effect among Koreans (like how we would say “Abracadabra”).
Dooly is a green and white baby dinosaur. To put it shortly, he was kidnapped by aliens and experimented on to gain magic powers. Upon returning to Earth he was trapped in a glacier, completely skipping the extinction of dinosaurs, and woke up 100 million years later in Seoul, Korea. Dooly was so popular that he was the first cartoon character to be printed on postage stamps, and he even has his own resident registration card, making him an actual citizen of South Korea.
Though criticized as violent and not exactly educational, Dooly is still beloved today and has several comics and cartoons still in production.
Speaking of, some of the most popular Korean cartoons for children are educational, and teach many valuable real-life lessons to children. Robocar Poli is an ongoing CG cartoon series that revolves around the adventures of a rescue team residing in Brooms Town made up of rescue team automobile robots and one human.
The team rescues citizens from dangerous situations in every episode, and teach children about traffic safety and what to do in emergencies. Just like Pororo, Poli has been praised for being a beneficial and valuable role model to children!
Whether they’re educational or not, cartoons are a significant influence in a child’s life. Where would I be today without Pokemon, or Bugs Bunny, or Mickey Mouse? It’s no doubt that cartoons will continue to evolve and become more creative in how they teach lessons or relay messages to kids everywhere; here’s hoping that the Korean animation industry continues to grow as rapidly as it is now!