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Pororo to Mark 10th Birth Anniversary with Screen Debut
�� �� Pororo, the title character of South Korea's popular TV animation series "Pororo the Little Penguin," celebrated his 10th birthday on Thursday.

Since his debut in 2003, Pororo has reigned as an unrivaled favorite among Korean toddlers and pre-schoolers.


As his popularity has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, the TV series has been exported to 120 countries around the world, making it a leader in the Asian-wide boom of Korean animation.

Many changes have been made to Pororo and his friends as well as the village where they reside. They now jump into an entirely different adventure this year, marking the 10th anniversary since the show's creation: the first 3D animated film-version of the series, "Pororo: the Racing Adventure."

"Pororo has continued to evolve," Kim Il-ho, the chief of OCON, a Seoul-based animation production company that made the Pororo series, said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency.

The series has so far been adapted into on-stage musicals and books. But its film adaptation is the cream of those attempts, he says.

"This is tantamount to declaring that Pororo now is a global brand," Kim says. The movie is set to open on Thursday next week at local theaters after three years of production.

But the production of the 8 billion won (US$7.5 million) film was not easy for the company with no experience in making a big-screen animation.

"It was really difficult," he recalled. "Moviemaking is a very complicated process. Pororo's popularity can rather serve as a disadvantage in case of a film because people will think it's only for kids."

To make it more watchable as a family entertainment, Kim says his company had to take the title character and his friends to the outside world and make them take part in an ice sleigh race, where only world-class players can come.

"We also made efforts to make it a very comfortable 3D to watch by minimizing camera techniques."


Kim says the key to Pororo's success is "sincerity."

"Pororo, actually, is an animation made by moms and dads. When we started making the TV series, my kid was two to three years old while the director also had a kid of a similar age. In addition, the age of our partner company was also six to seven. We had a common desire to make a good show so we can show it to our children although we were doing a business, of course."

"We needed more striking elements to intrigue children, but as parents, we didn't want to show such things to children."

The 45-year-old animator now thinks that "sincerity," "pure desire for creation" and "passion" eventually worked as the best strategy.

The movie is set to open at about 90 percent of the cinemas in China this month and is expected to be exported to at least 100 countries in the world, according to him.

Regardless of the ticket sales, however, he predicted that Pororo's movie version itself will generate a lot of additional value.

"We hope the movie will be helpful in promoting Pororo as a global brand and increasing sales of Pororo toys and other related products. I mean chances are scant for a loss."

Planning to make Pororo's movie versions once every two years in the future, the company has already begun working on the screenplay of the next film, he said.

"I think movies are now rising to the center of the family entertainment business," Kim said. "I see the future of Korea's content industry lies there."

Source Text

Source: Yonhap News (Jan. 17, 2013)

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