Friday, 23 May 2008

SICAF 2008 - The 12th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival

Quick Update: If you have time this weekend, check out the 12th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival (SICAF 2008).

Here are some useful links:


It's located at SETEC, a convention center a short walking distance from Hangnyeoul station, on Seoul subway line #3.

I plan to attend on Saturday, and this post will turn to a recap of the festival (with pictures). Stay tuned!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Realistic Human Look

It's time for the humans.
Collections of pigs, rats, sea creatures, and other trade characters have been featured on Korea & Animation. Now, it's the humans' turn. Specifically, realistic human characters.

There's an aesthetic in Korean advertising and trade character design that calls for realistic looking human characters. This "realistic human look" features humans who aren't very cartoon-like, but aren't completely photo realistic either. That dermatologist/urologist above must be based on a real doctor, right? He seems too imperfect to be fabricated.

Here's another doctor. The realistic human look is employed often with doctors. Maybe because it's important to display authority. Authority would be lost if the character design was goofy looking or overly cute.

Using these characters presents a friendly face and the realistic human look establishes that this face belongs to a real person.

Of course, that real person has blemishes and imperfections that are glossed over by this aesthetic. The face of a real doctor on an advertisement could be a little jarring and make the message less appealing.

This pizza place trade character is more realistic than the doctors. Maybe too realistic. Kim Sung Rae must be a real person who this pizza place is named after.

Here's a trade character featured at a popular kimbab restaurant. She seems friendly and familiar, like the kind of woman you'd meet working at any given kimbab place.

Here's another restaurant's realistic trade character. Of course, he's giving the thumbs up, which is a ubiquitous gesture for trade characters regardless of species.

Don't you feel like you know this guy? He seems awfully familiar. A little like your wild co-worker isn't he?

Since he's the trade character for a chicken and hof place, his face needs to communicate the fun you'll have after a long week at work.

A fun part of the realistic human look is that the body doesn't need to follow the rules of the head. Whereas the head is mostly realistic, the body can be unrealistically scrunched up so that it fits into the overall design.

Here's where this aesthetic gets really fun. Realistic humans can be paired up with unrealistic animals. Even if a little strange, that's really squeezing the best out of all aspects of character design. Imagine how more strange it would be if that octopus was designed to look realistic!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Rat in Hanbok

Here's a rat wearing hanbok.
Happy, rosey cheeked, and not a care in the world!

Here's a rat NOT wearing hanbok. Oh my! What a difference!

Which of these rats do you think got the better advertising gig? Rats are in hot demand this year, being that it's Year of the Rat.

The rat wearing hanbok must have a better agent. He gets to wear hanbok, traditional Korean clothing, usually only worn on special occasions. He gets to wear it out in the nice open air.

This poor rat is forced into a dimly lit subway station with nothing to wear at all! He really should talk to his agent.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Thirsty Thirsty Hippos

Hippos make great trade characters!

Oxy, a maker of household products in Korea, has a "Hippo" line of products to help you manage funky smells, humidity, and even moths in your household.

What a perfect decision to use happy hippos for this brand of products! The image of hippos as fat aquatic animals with endless appetites carries over well to this line of products. The above hippo image is used on the odor eating products. But, do you think this hippo seems to be sucking up odors or has ice breath?

The above product's name means "Odor Eating Hippo". The squishy bubbly beads of this product pair up naturally with the hippo. Don't you find this product quite appealing?

The hippos can be easily changed to match the "flavor" of the odor eaters.

In this Hamaroid product, the hippo is dressed as a scientific academic. Who better to guard your precious clothes from moths than a hippo who has done its research!

Here the hippo has put all pretense behind and is downright ready to fight off those pesky moths!

This is The Thirsty Hippo product. It sucks water right out of your room! Look closely at how it sucks the water right into its own legs.

Cuteness also makes hippos great trade characters for products. These air fresheners use the hippo characters to brand themselves. Oxy's hippos really stand out and are a lot of fun.

Here's a comparison. These Air Wick products use a woman's face rather than cartoon hippos. Don't you think this brings a whole different meaning to the product?

Friday, 4 April 2008

Best of March

March was a dry month on this blog. Sorry, loyal readers, for not entertaining you better. These two posts are the best of March. Click an image or link below to go to the post.

Learn what you can and cannot do while on the subways of Seoul. These advertising campaigns approach subway etiquette with funny cartoons.

Korean Teletubbies? Hutos: The Flying House is a new show for preschoolers that shares a lot in common with the Teletubbies. But does it share too much? And is that a bad thing? Check it out and then weigh in your opinion.

Goal for April: complete 15 posts. Thanks to all you readers and an extra thanks to those of you who leave comments and email interesting questions. More will come soon!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Friendly Graffiti

Graffiti in Korea is rare. The graffiti that does exist is quite friendly.
Hello. My nostrils are handles!!!!

I think these two green ones above must be by the same person.

What a motley crew! From left to right: bunny rabbit, Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th (?), Marge Simpson, Homer Simpson, and a happy tree stump (?).

Good morning, pedestrian!

Since graffiti is not a common part of Korean culture, not even in Seoul, there are not many examples to share. Hope you enjoyed these friendly ones.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Hutos - The Flying House

What do you think?Hutos - The Flying House is a new show made for preschoolers. It is made here in Korea and broadcast on KBS. This subway advertisement showcases the main characters. Do these characters strike you as very similar to another international hit show for preschoolers?Here's an abstraction of the main characters into basic shapes and colors. Don't they seem awfully familiar to you? Tell me what you think in the comments sections. I'll add more about Hutos to this post later.

UPDATE (March 15th, 2008): The similarities between Hutos and Teletubbies are not coincidental. Hutos is intended as the 'Korean Teletubbies'.The first obvious similarity is the character design. The characters are very similar colors as well as other design elements. The second similarity is in the structure of the show. It is undeniably like the Teletubbies. It is set in a beautiful nature reserve and they live in similar eco-friendly structures. The previews for this show even feature the characters posing in the same ways as Teletubbies and speaking baby talk as Teletubbies do. Although, in the actual show, a major difference is that the characters speak full sentences in Korean. And a further difference is that the show features music videos and animated segments (not beaming from their bellies).

Do you think that modeling Hutos so closely off of Teletubbies is a good idea? Here are some possible pros and cons:


  1. Teletubbies is a proven international success, so Hutos need not reinvent the wheel.
  2. The similarities between the two shows helps audiences (parents) and global investors know exactly what to expect from this property.
  3. Teletubbies rip-off or not, at least a Korean television program is gaining international interest. And anyways, nothing is ever completely original and it's not EXACTLY like Teletubbies.


  1. People may criticize Hutos as a blatant rip-off.
  2. Is there a need for a Korean Teletubbies? There already is Teletubbies, so why bother with Hutos?
  3. With all the financial backing for Hutos, the lack of originality is a missed opportunity for Korean talent to truly shine.

Hutos is a cute show that will likely have success on its own merits. The show looks beautiful. And, the heavy marketing can't hurt it either. However, will the Teletubbies similarities hurt or harm it? And what does Hutos reveal about the state of the Korean animation industry? Please share your thoughts.

Here are some links I found useful while researching this that you may too:

  1. Episode of Hutos (with advertisements)
  2. KOCCA: 'Hutos', KBS Young Kids Program, to develop a character manual