Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Skitsch Started a Sketch Blog!

Check out this great drawing by Skitsch:Skitsch drew this specifically to share with you on her new sketch blog.

Who is Skitsch you ask? You can learn a little about her by reading
this Korea & Animation interview where she discusses her life as an inbetweener in the Korean animation industry. Or you can learn even more about her by checking out the drawn self introduction she posted over at her own blog.

Skitsch is digging up old drawings as well as creating new ones to share with the world. Sometimes she even shows her drawing process with us. Who knows what the future of her blog may hold? I say we all encourage her by leaving lots of comments!

Visit her now at:

Monday, 25 February 2008

GUEST POST: Top 5 Most Wanted Korean Toys

In the world of Korean toy collecting, there is a hierarchy or a most desired list. What’s that you say? "I didn’t even know there were Korean toy collectors let alone desirable Korean toys!" Well, desirability does depend entirely on personal taste, but rest assured, South Korean manufacturers have made some really bright and fantastical plastic eye-candy over the years.

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.


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.

Superman and Atom

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.

Robot Taekwon V 90

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.

King of the Kings

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.

1. Korean made Jumbo Machinder circa 1975-76. The great lost treasure--heck, it’s so rare I wouldn’t dare even suggest a price. Nobody has seen one of these since the 1970’s.It stands at 65cm tall and is really a knock off Grandizer character, but heck, only one hardcore Taekwon V fan in Seoul claims to have owned one of these as a kid--he showed me a picture of him and his Taekwon V bicycle from when he was about 8 years old in Seoul in 76 and he then explained that he owned this jumbo toy as a child as well. I heard another Korean toy collector sigh under his breath after viewing the picture of said collector with original Taekwon V bicycle, words to the effect of ‘he was spoilt.’

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

Sugary Cereal Characters Gallery

Welcome, dear patron, to the Sugary Cereal Characters Gallery in Seoul. Let me guide you through our fine collection of cereal boxes.

Froot Ring

Breakfast cereal is not a major staple of Korean breakfasts. The breakfast cereals movement has its roots in the United States of America. As such, many of the pieces in our gallery borrow from the work of artists abroad. The brightly colored piece above is such an example.

Coco Pops

This piece is more conservative in its use of color than the previous. It utilizes mostly warm earthtones. This is likely to invoke a chocolately aesthetic.

Oreo O's

Notice how typography dominates this piece heavily. This is quite rare. Unlike other pieces, the words "Oreo O's" are emphasized boldly while the trade character almost goes unnoticed.

Here we have allowed you to see a close up of the cartoon character. The character is likely meant to represent the white substance in Oreo cookies. It is a wonder that the artist chose to de-emphasize such a scrumptious substance.

Corn Frost: Light Sugar

Here we see a reinterpretation of the original Corn Frost piece. The bland white background and subtle pose of the trade character align with the conservative restrictions of the Light Sugar aesthetic. Why don't we take a look at the original Corn Frost design?

Corn Frost

POW! Unrestricted by the confines of the Light Sugar aesthetic, this box design is really allowed to pop! Through a bright blue background and Tony the Tiger in the pose he was truly born for, the viewer can only be convinced that this original is superior. However, if you look closely at the bowls of cereal in both pieces, you'll notice that they are identical.

Corn Flate

We now move on past the American breakfast cereal boxes and into our local collection. These pieces build upon the work of American cereal box artists.

We have created this East vs. West comparison for you. The similarities are striking. Are the Korean artists truly building upon what the American artists have created? Or is their work merely derivative? In either case, the American influence is evident. Look closely and you will notice that the American tiger has his name "Tony" written in Korean hangeul on his bandana. The Korean lion "Flion" has his name written in a cursive English variant of Latin on his soccer jersey. We take this as evidence that both artists must have respected each other's work and cultures.

Corn Flate: Sugar Light

Notice how Korean artists resist the blandness of the Sugar Light aesthetic in the piece above. Rather than blandness, they utilize symbols of the upper atmosphere to represent lightness.

Choco Flakes

Here's a Korean example of a chocolatey aesthetic.


Our Starberry piece is an exquisite example of a brightly colored cereal box. It reveals the society it was created in. This robot-like trade character reflects the fascination with robots in Korea. It shows the hopes for robots to make life faster, easier, and even more tasty.

Choco Ball

Alas, the world of cereal box art is not free of commerce in Korea. Here we see the beloved animated character, Dooly, being used to generate profit. In the piece above, he is donning wizarding garb and attempting to make Choco Ball appear healthier than it actually may be. However, does this Dooly commercial tie-in automatically prevent the piece from being considered art? I personally do not believe so.

If you pay very close attention to the Choco Ball piece, you'll notice the little girl hanging off the side of the bowl. Her expression merits great attention. Notice the artist's choice to give her only three teeth. This choice, in combination with the rest of her expression, makes her look somewhat crazed. She looks as if she is mesmerized by Choco Ball and must eat the cereal now. I believe the "three tooth design" should become the standard symbol for representing a character's voracious and urgent appetite. Commercial or not, this "three tooth design" is truly a contribution to the breakfast cereal art world.

Chex Choco Crunch

The late development of breakfast cereals in Korea allowed them to arise within a highly advanced technological infrastructure. This allowed for the possibility of new kinds of trade characters. Trade characters not restricted by their two dimensional counterparts. Above you will see two computer generated trade characters created for Chex Choco Crunch. These CG trade characters can easily be reused within the Chex Choco brand.

Chex Choco 1

Some could argue that the use of 3-Dimensional trade characters is a sign of the dying of an artform--that a little part of the soul in these characters is lost. Others argue that a medium is just a medium--2D or 3D. I personally agree with the latter. After all, the above piece illustrates that trade characters are still being used in the traditional ways they always have been: smiling, giving a thumbs up, and pushing their product. The method of doing this irrelevant.

Chex Choco 2

Here, however, we see that CG characters are being used in new ways. Ways not attempted previously. Perhaps the artist intended this character to look excited. Yet, one reading could be that it is actually quite scared, perhaps putting its arms up for the police siren. It is easy to imagine it reacting to a small explosion.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Choco Chex character. The character on the right is traditional and conservative--giving the ubiquitous thumbs up. The character on the left looks either very excited, very scared, or both. It is a new expression in this artform. The character on the left represents a break from tradition. Perhaps even a new direction for cereal box art. Time will only tell what the future of cereal box art in Korea will hold. Hopefully, the future holds more unique and clever pieces to take the artform to new places.

Thanks for visiting the Sugary Cereal Characters gallery in Seoul. Please visit a gallery (i.e. super market) near you!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Interview at Studio Moziri

Interview at Studio Moziri
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

Boom Chiki Boom! in China

Whoa! Déjà vu!Are they recording the voices for Boom Chiki Boom! again? That was already posted before on this blog, wasn't it?

Oh. Wait a second! They are speaking Mandarin, not English!

Aha! This is the recording session for the Chinese version of Boom Chiki Boom!. These young woman are recent graduates of acting school. And skill definitely shows! Their voice acting is excellent!

Adapting the Korean songs into Chinese can be really tough, but a little coaching can help with that.

Wow! This Beijing recording studio is much more spacious and fancy than the one in Seoul.

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

North Korea Souvenir Buttons

These are souvenir buttons from the North Korean city of Kaesong.
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

ShinHan Touch Twin Markers

Listen up, marker fiends!ShinHan Touch Twin Markers are the cheapest professional markers you can find here in Korea. Most likely because they are made here.

They come in a vast assortment of colors. You can buy various sized pre-arranged packs of colors. But everyone knows that the real fun is in picking out your own colors. If you don't know much about different colors, it's fun to just pick ones with names that you can easily learn. For example, pick food related colors: potato brown, lemon yellow, mint green, ice blue, fruit pink, chocolate.

They have two sides: one fine and the other broad.

These markers can often be spotted on the desks of Korean animation people. Storyboarder, Park Min uses bold colors in his storyboard work. He also uses them in his personal sketchbook. Here is a wonderful example borrowed from his blog.

You can easily find these markers in art supply or stationery stores in Korea. You can also find them at the
Shinhan Art website.

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

More About Podori

Here's more about Podori, the New Police for the New Millenium!

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!

And here's a treat. The other police mascot! Although, she isn't seen around as much as Podori. I wonder what her story is?