Hope for Korean animation
Kim Sungin (amazesi34)
A lot of children are looking forward to watching "Pororo Season 3". Actually, Pororo has had a brilliant success for the last five years. What makes Pororo such a success?
Iconix, the maker of Pororo (Open the link
), says that it was the result of empathy with today's children, of the ability to plan marketing, of 3-D animation skill and of the thorough management of characters.
Sometimes, Korean characters have many limits to success in the world market, even though the Korean animation business is getting bigger and more specialized. They used to be late to register a trademark, or fail to manage their characters. If they keep the secret of Pororo's success in mind, other Korean animation will be successful in the world market, too.
A Typical Episode
"After reading about birds flying, Pororo starts to think that he too can fly. Climbing up a rooftop with great expectations, Pororo finds that his wings are too short to fly. Trying with bigger wings and even Eddy's rocket, Pororo still fails. In attempt to cheer up Pororo, Poby thinks of an idea and takes everyone somewhere…" (extracted from the EBS Web site "Dream of Flying" (Sep. 10, 2005).
About the Popularity of Pororo
Eighty-one countries have imported the Pororo character already. Seventeen countries have broadcast Pororo. Pororo is especially popular in Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Europe. It has been broadcast on the French national broadcasting channel TF1, too. The program rating in the same time slot was up to 47 percent in France. It was a No. 1 rated program in Taiwan, too.
Iconix says that the character licensing business is very briskly developing. It has earned 11.5 billion won (approx US$11 million) in royalties. More than 400 character products have been released through about 120 companies. Iconix has developed content like exhibitions and musicals. It is a good example of "one sauce, multi use".
Moreover, Pororo won the Korean Culture and Content Agency Character Awards two years in a row. Choi Jong-Il said Iconix is making "Pororo Season 3" now. It will be broadcast late this year.
Why Is Pororo so Popular?
Why do you think this little character is so popular? Because it is cute? Yes, it makes sense. But there are a lot of other reasons. Not just because it is cute. Let us look at them.
Pororo's success starts from niche marketing. The company targeted children of the ages of 3-7 and parents in their late 20s to early 30s. There are many animations for children. But animations for infants are not plentiful in quantity or quality. So they observed infants. They observed what infants like, when they laugh, how they hang out with their friends. They applied observation results to a scenario, and it worked. The children's responses were incredible. Pororo became the world star.
The "global" character of Pororo is also an important reason. Most people do not recognize where this character came from. You cannot find blonde hair or brown eyes on Pororo characters. Like other famous characters such as "Winnie the Pooh", "Tom and Jerry" and "Donald Duck", Pororo is an animal, a penguin. People love penguins. Using English words in many scenes contributed to the character's globalization. And there are various characters in this animation: dinosaur, beaver, fox, bear and bird. And they have unique personalities. Having their own personality was a good attraction to children.
The purpose of "Pororo" is entertainment not education. Iconix tried to give fun to children. For a long time, the intention of animation has been to educate children. Most animation tried to teach something to children. In that point of view, children are students not consumers. Iconix considered children as new consumers. So they decided to fulfill consumer's needs. It was just for fun! They used fun sounds and their own music to entertain children. Children gave instant response to different sounds and songs. And children became new consumers of a big market.
Hope for Korean Animation
Korean animation technology is ranked third in the world. But there are some challenges to catch up with the world's leading animation countries such as the United States or Japan, especially in the areas of planning and originality. As animation experts pointed out, the Korea animation industry is poor at planning and marketing.
It is true that Korea was considered a good source of drawing labor. But, not anymore! "Wonderful Days
" (2003) was the first step toward Korean animation's success. Even though it did not achieve much, it was an excellent try.
Now, well-made Korean animations get excellent results in the world. "Poukka" is broadcast in South America and there are plans for "Iron Kids" to be broadcast in the whole of the US. Iconix also plans to branch out into a game, a movie and a theme park business. And they already had significant achievement on a musical and an exhibition.
There were lots of reasons for Pororo's success. But I want to say this: If there is not empathy for children, there is no world star Pororo. If you want to win in the animation business, start with empathizing for children. If children are happy, you will be, too.
Other articles by reporter Kim Sungin
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