New Cartoon Series Stars (Huh?) KimchiThink of a cartoon character.
Perhaps you thought of Superman, the Simpsons or even Anpanman (called Hobbangman in Korean), the Japanese animation character successful all over Asia in years gone by. It's unlikely that a Korean character came to mind.
But a new Korean cartoon is set to take on the world: "Chaichaipong Kimchiman." This Korean animation series will be televised in 26 episodes by the Korea Broadcasting Service at the end of this year.
Creators of the concept won an animation competition held by KBS last October and, armed with a budget of 5 billion won ($3.9 million), production began.
Every cartoon hero needs a mission, and in this case the mission is a matter of national pride Œ to publicize worldwide the tongue-tingling food now officially recognized as authentic Korean Œ kimchi.
Kim Young-jun, the president of Juju Bank, the company in charge of planning and marketing, said, iaIn the international market, Japanese kimuchi is sometimes wrongly thought to be the origin of Korean kimchi. This misapprehension is proof that we are partly responsible for the lack of understanding.
Public relations brochures will not be enough to repair this lack. Therefore, we have tried to publicize kimchi through familiar, entertaining cartoon characters.ln
"Chaichaipong Kimchiman" takes as its intriguing premise a machine called Chaichaipong, which soaks up the essences of vegetables in kimchi. On absorbing these (assuredly pungent) essences, the Kimchiman characters become energetic and powerful and take on new virtues, which combine in interesting, different ways in each character. To absorb these magical essences from Chaichaipong, the characters must also eat raw vegetables and fresh kimchi. (Spot any lessons for young viewers?)
One day, the Kimchiman characters pit their strength against each other in a competition of power. However, the competition is disrupted when a monster appears, called Gamkiman (gamki means the common cold) in Korean or Coldmon in Japanese.
Despite the initial confusion that ensues after Gamkiman makes his entrance, the strong, valiant Kimchiman characters eventually overcome their common enemy by working together.
The Kimchiman characters can also get extra-animated by eating a special kind of kimchi made with an added ingredient, ginseng, the invigorating root touted by many here as a cure-all.
"Chaichaipong Kimchiman" is to be produced in a High Definition version as well, aiming at the Japanese market, where digital broadcasting has already begun. The prospects look good for Chaichaipong Kimchiman - it has already attracted a lot of attention from Japan, including coverage by NHK and Asahi TV.
by Ki Sun-min