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Han-guk Manhwa Aenimeisyeon refers to South Korean Animation. For Korean comic books see Manhwa.

South Korean animation nominally began with a commercial for Lucky Toothpaste in 1956. However, it is usually agreed that it really began with the production of Hong Gil-dong, the country's first animated feature by Shin Dong Woo of the Shin Dong Hyun brothers (S. Korea's answer to Walt and Roy Disney).

South Korea finally entered the world of first color animation feature with the release of Hong Gil-dong, produced by Seki Production and directed by Shin Dong-Heon on January 21, 1967. Adapted from the Hong Gil-dong the Hero comic strip by Shin Dong-won, Hong Gil-dong achieved tremendous success during its initial premiere in 1967. The film's success sparked public interest in S. Korean animation. Though after one more film, the Shin brothers' success ended due to a dispute with their distributor.

Prior to the release of Hong Gil-dong, there were several factors that influenced Seki Production to finally produce this first Korean animated feature. First was the considerable success of re-introducing several classic animation (mostly from Disney such as Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan) to the new generation. Second was the screen quota system that required some movie theaters that generally played foreign films to screen Korean movies around 60-90 days out of a year. Because Seki Production (who owned many of those theaters) wanted something exciting to run during those time in order to minimalize the lost of revenue, turned into animation as the answer. Third factor was the harsh censorship enacted by the new Motion Picture Law that somehow did not apply to children?s movies.

Hong Gil-dong soon was followed by the Korea?s first stop motion animation, Heungbu and Nolbu directed by Kang Tae-wong, on June 30, 1967. Other notable animation features includes Hopi and Chadol Bawi (1967), Golden Iron Man (1967), Son O-Gong (1968, as Korean-Japanese production), The Golden Bat (1968), General Hong Gil-dong (1969), Treasure Island (1969), Prince Hodong and the Princess of Nakrang (1971), Lightning Atom (1971) and War of the Monster (1972).

After that brief expansion, the market for S. Korean animation rapidly shrank as the country was flooded with foreign animated films and TV shows before it gave the way to one of the most beloved S. Korean animation, Robot Taekwon V, directed by Kim Cheong-gi in 1976. The animation productions then become more abundant, and during 1976 to 1985 there are 62 animation features produced.

Animation production then shifted to TV series to serve the growth of tourism regarding two international sports events that were being hosted by South Korea: Asian Games in 1986 and Olympic Games in 1988. KBS produced the Korean first animated TV series, Wandering KKachi in 1987.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the South Korean government implemented a ban on Japanese media, including newspapers, magazines, movies, television programs and manga.[1] It was within this period that S. Korean animation was in its infancy. Many examples of early S. Korean animation incorporated unauthorized uses of Japanese anime characters and likenesses. For example, Space Black Knight featured characters that looked exactly like Amuro Ray, Char Aznable, Sayla Mass and Dozle Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam. In Space Gundam V, the protagonist mecha was an unlicensed version of the VF-1J Valkyrie from Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

Another important note regarding the animation development in Korea was the growing of animation industries that did the subcontracting work for overseas productions, most notably for America and Japan studios. (In a couple instances, these same studios produced films directly plagiarized from anime that was subcontracted to them. For example, Toei outsourced some of Video Senshi Laserion to Korean studio Dai Won, who then made a Laserion ripoff called Video Ranger 007 which reused not only designs, but also animation from the original. This also happened with a Korean ripoff of Gatchaman II called Eagle 5 Brothers which copied entire scenes from the series and condensed them into a 70-minute film.)

With the rising cost of living in South Korea, Western producers decided to shift production to lower-cost area such as China and Vietnam in 1990s, the animation industry in Korea faced a great turmoil. Although several studios managed to retain contracts for high profile animations such as The Simpsons, Futurama, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, it became evident that the only way to survive was by developing original productions.

Recent developments in S. Korean animation parallel that to the country's industrial policy, which is noted for government working hand-in-hand with the private sector. The most impressive example of this collaboration was SICAF, where attendance was over 300,000, once again illustrating the great interest in locally-made product. The S. Korean government also sees animation as the most competitive industry for the 21st century. To demonstrate their confidence, it has provided tax breaks by changing animation's industrial classification and providing services to producers--two changes which clearly demonstrates the government's commitment to the field.

In contrast to Japan, Korea rarely adapts its manhwa into animated form. However, Korea has been responsible for countless animated series from around the world, most coming from Japan. South Korea is undoubtedly the largest supplier of television animation in the world. Industry estimates are not always precise, but no one would argue that in peak production years the country's production houses can turn out over a thousand half-hour (22 minute) episodes. Despite being the largest producer of animation for television, Korea's animation industry has acquired the unique distinction of its domestic animation being dominated by feature films.

Korean Animation Tropes

  • Animation Age Ghetto: Despite the large volume of animation S. Korea produces, almost of all of it that is produced for the Korean market is made for kids.
  • Animesque: After having done animation segments for Japanese shows for so long, it is no wonder there is such an influence.
  • Plagiarism: A few animated films obviously rip off on some Japanese anime shows, and does not put the Korean animation system in a good light.
  • Super Robot: Much earlier Korean animations are just this.
  • Toilet Humor: Koreans are more keen on this than the Japanese.

Also see Asian Animation for a list. Compare Anime, Japanese animation.

Notes

  1. Partly due to atrocities and Japanese cultural imperialism during the Imperial Japan's colonization of Korea.

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