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Korean Anime Inspired by Literature

Posted July. 05, 2006 03:20,   


“We are going to surprise the world.”

SemoLogic Korea President Kim Jong-bo (age: 44), who is in charge of the production of the animation “Guunmong” (The Nine Cloud Dream) in Los Angeles, U.S., pledges the above with confidence.

SemoLogic Korea that produced world-class animation like “Final Fantasy” and “Animatrix” is currently working on the main characters and plot of another cinematic animation feature Guunmong, which is to be completed by the summer of 2008.

The production cost of Guunmong, in which Korean and American professionals applied the latest technology, costs about 10 billion won.

The company says, “We decided to make the animation because we thought the dichotomy of the reality and dream goes well with the kind of imagination in animation.”

Korean classical literature is reborn as animation and games at a time when culture yields as much value as information technology and manufacturing.

The Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation of Kangwon National University is planning to make a 24-episode (each 20 minutes long) animation for television based on “Ongnumong,” a 19th Century tale about a hero.

The scenario for the first series and 50 characters will be completed in time for production in October. The Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation of Kangwon National University has been chosen by Korea Culture & Content Agency as a Culture Research Center and will receive 1.4 billion won over three years. Much of the production fee, which is about 4 to 5 billion won, will mostly come from China.

Department of Korean Language Education Professor Kim Poong-ki of Kangwon National University says, “Although there are a profusion of characters, the story is very well-narrated. This led us to judge that the story is fit for a scenario. The setting includes China, Mongolia, and Vietnam. The animation will fulfill Korean and international appetites at the same time.”

Guunmong will be made into a computer game. Department of Media Communication Dean Kim Kyo-bong of Keimyung College and game developer Kang Ju-sik (age: 37) applied for a venture start-up fund on June 23.

Jangseong-gun of Jeonnam Province is planning to make Honggildongjeon into an animation and computer game in time for the completion of the Honggildong theme park in 2011.

The short animation “The Rabbit and the Turtle,” which is based on Byeoljubujeon, is in production with the assistance of an animation studio.

After the animation “Honggildong” recorded a big success in 1967, there have been countless animations based on classical literature. None of them received any international attention.

The animations that came out in the nineties, such as The Return of the Hero Honggildong, Sungchunhyangjeon, and Byeoljubuhejeon also performed poorly.

The animation “Empress Simcheong,” a collaborative effort between South and North Korea that came out in 2004 and cost 7.0 billion, also fared poorly.

The recent wave of animation based on classical literature is different from the past animations in that they involve a multinational talent pool, which is a result of Hallyu (the Korean wave) and a seamless scenario written by classical literature experts.

Center for Korean Studies of Yonsei University President Seol Sung-gyung, who wrote the synopsis of the animation “Guunmong,” says, “Exports of animations based on heavy research on classical literature and cutting edge technology could launch the spread of Korean culture all over the world.”

peacechaos@donga.com sukim@donga.com