Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Monday, 25 February 2008
Yeah, that’s right. We’re talking plastic. Macho robo-plastic. Many hardcore toy collectors can only get excited over die cast stuff, and that usually means the Japanese made toys, but I think the plastic stuff that came out of South Korea during the ‘pali-pali’ (rush-rush or hurry-hurry) development period from the 70’s to the early 90’s tells far more stories and is infinitely more revealing.
Archaeologists love finding toys from bygone civilizations because the toys can reveal much. The more advanced and technological the toy, the more advanced the society and culture. When it comes to toys from the 'pali-pali era', we’re looking at an old culture embracing the new by leaping into the industrial era. You’re also glimpsing South Korea’s first efforts at embracing the technological. Heck, might sound like bunk to read this, but you gotta remember that Samsung is now the worlds biggest electronic consumer goods maker after knocking Sony from that spot in 2006. South Korea’s economic miracle is mirrored in its animation industry and the history of Korean animation is mirrored in its toys. Okay, don’t wanna bore you too much.
For now, let’s focus on some of the most desirable toys ever made in South Korea. Feel free to disagree and argue the merits of one over another if you want.
TOP 5 MOST WANTED KOREAN TOYS:
5. Superman Knock-Off. Coming in at number 5 on the list, I place the great knock-off of Superman made by the Hyundai Tongsan Company. Now, Hyundai Tongsan were great in that they made the most lavish and oversized boxes for what were often, somewhat larger than normal toys--these guys here come in at around 45cm in height. Hyundai Tongsan, with their stolen image of either Duey or Luey (the green hatted one), made bootlegs of just about anything South Korean kids were watching which really adds to their desirability. Heck, I’d rather have a badboy bootleg than some sterile approved toy merchandise any day.
There were three characters in this series (Atom, Ultraman and Superman) and the Ultraman is still to be found on the shelves of some Moombangoo (toy store/stationary stores) in the outer provinces. The thing that makes them so desirable is that they were the same body mould with different heads/color scheme applied to each figure. This meant that things didn’t fit--so Atom (or Astroboy if you wish) has feet, a huge round melon head and a bulging groin! The superman is arguably the rarest because for some reason the plastic quality on the Supermen was very poor and they crumble to bits in the box.
4. Taekwon V 90: jumbo sized with all the extras. This toy is really quite desirable and has lured a few collectors of Japanese toys over just because of the many parts that it came with. I sold a few of these a few years back for around U.S. $300 each but I’d bet they would fetch quite a bit more now as I recently parted with this smaller version pictured here for the same price.
Taekwon V is arguably the most important Korean cartoon character ever created and while this robot is a latter version from around 1990, anything to do with the Taekwon V series of films is incredibly collectable and desirable within South Korea.
3. King of the Kings. One of only 4 Jumbo Machinders known to have ever been made in South Korea (yes, there is a variant of this guy and then there’s the Go Lion). What makes this guy desirable is that he has Taekwon V styled horns/helmet slapped onto a Japanese styled God Sigma robot character toy. Current estimates value him at around $600 U.S. – that’s about $10 per centimeter in height.2. Super Taekwon V (pink box). Whew, hold your breath here, because you won’t believe what the last one of these was listed at on Korean ebay--a staggering 5 million Won --approximately 5K U.S.! Yep, granted the toy collecting community screamed that the seller was ‘pabo’ (fool), and other colorful phrases denoting he was living in a dreamland, but these have definitely sold before for around the 2 million won mark. Why? Once again it goes back to being a Taekwon V toy. Anything Taekwon V or Wooroemae in South Korea is collectable and with this, you’re looking at one of the first official toys of Taekwon V ever made. Taekwon V mania was absolutely huge in the late 70’s in South Korea and the mania continues to this day.Unfortunately, I’ve lost the picture of the pink box Super Taekwon V toy. This Super Taekwon V toy is from the same era and approaching the same price now. This picture is from recent gallery display in London/New York hosted by the Korea Society.
Guest Post by: Alex Powell
Midodok: I would like to thank Alex for contributing the very first guest post here on Korea & Animation. Alex is an avid collector of Korean animation memorabilia and really knows his stuff! He is also a frequent commenter here who often leaves very insightful contributions in the comments section (check them out!).
Saturday, 23 February 2008
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Studio Moziri is grand. In reality, it's quite small. Studio Moziri consist of only a few people. Their office is located on the first floor of a humble street near Namguro Station in Seoul. They have a couple computers, a bunch of books, a light box, and a small plant. Still, Studio Moziri is grand. During the day, Kim Yong Chan works as a director at a major animation studio in Seoul. During the night, your likely to find him at the studio he started in October 2006. You may also run into Yun Ga Ram there. She's both Director Kim's apprentice and creative partner. Director Kim is a tall, kind man who some say looks like actor Nicholas Cage. I was interested in learning more about Studio Moziri. So, one night, he let me join him at the studio for an interview. +++++++++++++++
Midodok: Why did you decide to start Studio Moziri.
Director Kim: The number one reason is that I want to play. My brain needs to play. So this is my free place to play. The company that I work at during the day is not free because I must make their story. But, this space is free. Ga Ram is free. Our emotions are free. Our plans are free. Anytime, anyday. We might chat about story ideas or eat or watch movies. It is not a job, just art playing.
Take a look at the new PipMan & PipGirl Valentine's Day cartoon created by Studio Moziri. Director Kim: But we do need some resulting object and that is our digital stories. We can change the world through digital stories. Or people's minds. Why digital stories? We use a digital medium but the story is perfect analog.
Midodok: Huh? I don't get it. Can you explain better?
Director Kim: For example, PipMan & PipGirl is an 18-byte story. So many people have cell phones, but some emotion is lost in this form of communication. People will make up for that lost emotion. What is the source? Text. If I send a text message, it doesn't indicate that you are smiling. But if you send a text smile, it lets me know that you are smiling. 8 byte emotion.
Midodok: Oh, I get it. So although your medium is digital, the emotions you create are real (analog).
Director Kim: Yes. Digital can be handy, simple or easy. The speed is fast. Good. But it has lost too much emotion. We find that emotion and put it into digital.
At this point in the interview, Yun Ga Ram arrived at Studio Moziri after a long day of work. Director Kim had told me about Ga Ram's hopes to eventually study at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, the same university he attended. I was interested in learning more about Ga Ram's role at Studio Moziri and her own dreams. So, I briefly interrupted my interview with Director Kim to interview her. Midodok: How did you get involved with Studio Moziri?
Ga Ram: I followed Director Kim Yong Chan, ha ha! Here I just get to do what I like to do. I'm not working here, but studying.
Midodok: What do you hope for Studio Moziri?
Ga Ram: I'm not thinking about that.
Midodok: What is your personal dream?
Ga Ram: I want to be a director!
Midodok: What will you study in Japan?
Ga Ram: Visual arts.
Midodok: What is your favorite animation?
Ga Ram: Bonobono.
Midodok: What kinds of animation would you like to produce?
Ga Ram: Fun stuff!
Midodok: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Ga Ram: I love PipMan & PipGirl, ha ha ha!
Midodok: Hmmmm, is there anything else I should ask?
Director Kim: How about what was difficult about directing the editing of PipMan & PipGirl?
Ga Ram: The first thing that was difficult was making their movements seem natural, even though they are just text. The second thing was the timing of the action. The third thing was deciding what PipMan & PipGirl's personality and emotions would be.
Midodok: What kinds of stuff do you do here at Studio Moziri besides PipMan & PipGirl?
Ga Ram: Drawing. I designed some characters. And some story writing and planning.
Midodok: Thank You!
Ga Ram then brought out some tangerines, took some pictures of me interviewing Director Kim, and then went to her computer to work. Later in the night, her gal pal joined her and the two of them started creating a mashup video of a girl dancing to funny music.
Now, back to the interview with Director Kim:
Midodok: What's your hope for Studio Moziri?
Director Kim: It's too difficult. We shouldn't be thinking about that yet. I just want our freedom and our creativity to continue so we'll make art. I just want to continue. Continue making film or taking pictures. I don't want to be trapped by a position or title. I just want to have a method of expression.
Director Kim: I also want to encourage Ga Ram to become an artist and be creative. Her creation is important. There are so many people in Korea that are just drawing like engineers, but I want Ga Ram to be a creator. Me, too. Then, Moziri will have some stories and continue creating.
Midodok: By the way, what does the name Moziri mean?
Director Kim: It means "a fool" in Korean. We are not perfect. But together we are perfect. That is the meaning.
Midodok: Do you plan to create more PipMan & PipGirl animations?
Director Kim: Yes, sure.
Midodok: What else do you do here at Studio Moziri?
Director Kim: We have created short stories, dramas, short films, and movies. We plan cartoons, books . . .
Midodok: So you guys just create and create. How do choose decide what to create?
Director Kim: I can find ideas by just talking with other people. Like right now, we are talking about PipMan & PipGirl and I might get an idea from this conversation. Human life makes too many stories, but maybe everybody doesn't know how to make this into stories. I know how to use media to make an expression of these stories. It's too easy, just listen and look. Sometimes I tell Ga Ram, you can just walk in the street and you must find a creative kind of new story there.
Midodok: It seems so easy and natural.
Director Kim: Yeah. I think we have so many stories. There are so many people that have so many ideas, but they don't know how to explain the idea. What we do is plan how to explain that image.
Midodok: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Director Kim: One thing I'd like to add is that many people don't want to create animation because it seems too difficult. But actually, it's too simple! Some people have this big view of animation, that you need key artists, storyboarders, etc. But actually, animation is just movement. That is so simple!
Midodok: Great, thank you for your time and sharing Studio Moziri with Korea & Animation!
Director Kim: Sure!
Director Kim has created a place where creativity rules. Where learning and experimentation are more important than worrying about financial profit. Where, unlike many service animation studios in Korea, creation occurs rather than production. Director Kim has found a way to express himself, entertain us with cute animations, continue learning and help others along the way. That is truly grand! Check out the Studio Moziri website or the Studio Moziri channel at YouTube!
Sunday, 17 February 2008
After a long day of recording, they get to review their work (that's the best character, A-do, on the monitor above). Boom Chiki Boom! is a perfect example of OSMU, One Source Multiple Use. It's a CG animated show. A live-action costume television show. A stage show. And it is easily exportable into multiple languages. This Chinese Boom Chiki Boom! recording session shows how Korean content can reach a market larger than the Korean Peninsula alone.
Sitting in on this recording session also demonstrates how amazingly identical an experience can be, even if it occurs in two different countries. The exact same challenges faced both sets of recording sessions, such as the lyrics being too long for the music or confusion about certain animated parts in the script. Even the Chinese staff members had similar personalities and habits as their Korean counterparts! Déjà vu is right!
Saturday, 16 February 2008
I thought you might appreciate seeing some North Korean design in practice.I'm particularly fond of the color choice in this one above.The central theme of these buttons is the reunification of North Korea and South Korea.Although these buttons were purchased in Kaesong, their packaging indicates that they were originally from Pyongyang. Pyongyang and Kaesong are amongst the few North Korean cities open to foreign tourists, including South Koreans.If you'd like to learn more about this recently started Kaesong tour, Dr. Edward Reed of the Asia Foundation has written an insightful write-up about it.What are your thoughts?
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
They have two sides: one fine and the other broad.
Have you ever tried this marker out? What do you think? By the way, there is actually a cheaper brand. Alpha Plus Twin Markers (pictured above) are an even older and cheaper Korean brand of markers you can find straggling around art stores sometimes. Unfortunately, their poorly designed caps can easily damage the marker tips. Too bad!
Monday, 11 February 2008
Podori is the mascot for the Korean National Police Agency. He has been presented on Korea & Animation before. Here is what has been learned about him since then. This sticker was placed by the Seoul Police Department inside of a subway station. Look very closely at the lower right-hand corner and you'll see the signature of Lee Hyeon Se. Lee, often upheld as the most famous comic book artist in Korea, apparently designed Podori. Here are some close-ups, insights, and translations from that sticker: It appears Podori can patrol Seoul apartments by flying around with a Doraemon-like helicopter cap. Here he is observing how careless Seoul citizens are. Podori: Wow, they don't even bother identifying their guests before opening the door!
Podori: Milk and newspapers are stacked up outside. They must have been gone for a long time.
Podori: They don't turn off the light while out at night!
Podori is a very respondent police officer.Podori: Freeze!
Crook: Oh! That was so fast!
Woman: Oh my! It's only 3 minutes after I reported this!Podori isn't afraid to put troublemakers in their place. Angry Wife: Beat him! Spank him harder! Because he's an alcoholic!
Upset Daughter: I hate my dad!
Sound Effects: Spank! Spank!
Watch out criminals, because Podori is watching you even more closely! Podori: Big ears to better hear citizens.
Podori: Big eyes to better catch thieves with.
Crook: Argh! It's Podori!