Districts duel over rights to beloved dinosaur

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Districts duel over rights to beloved dinosaur


Dooly the dinosaur, one of Korea’s most beloved cartoon characters, is the subject of a tug of war between two local governments that claim him as their mascot. By Kim Soo-jung

One of Korea’s most beloved cartoon characters has become the subject of a tug of war between two local governments that are battling for the right to claim it as their mascot.

Underlying the fierce competition is the fact that both governments have ongoing projects with the character, a dinosaur named Dooly, that they launched to revitalize the local economy and promote tourism.

The controversy began on Feb. 2 when the Dobong District Office issued a hojuk (family registry) for Dooly. The hojuk is a legal document that records one’s birth, death and other events.

Dooly’s hojuk says that he is a Ceratosaurus born 10 million years ago and that he was trapped in a glacier during the Ice Age. When the glacier drifted down to the Ui Stream in northeastern Seoul, he was found by a young girl named Young-hee. He was adopted by Ko Gil-dong and Park Jeong-ja, the parents of Young-hee and her brother Chul-soo, in 2007.

Lee In-ku, director of the Dobong District Office’s “Dooly task force team,” offered evidence of the district’s claim to the character, saying that the address on the hojuk (Ssangmun-dong 2-2, Dobong, Seoul) comes from “Bomulsum,” the 1983 comic in which Dooly first appeared.

“Also, cartoonist Kim Soo-jung, who created Dooly, lived in Ssangmun-dong when he launched ‘Bomulsum’ in 1983,” Lee added.


Dooly is registered with the city of Bucheon, which made him an honorary citizen in 2003.

The sticky point comes from the fact that Dooly is already registered with the city of Bucheon, which made him an honorary citizen in 2003. They even gave him his own resident registration number, #830422-1185600.

Bucheon has held a birthday party for Dooly every year since 2003. It continued the tradition even after Doolynara, the licensing and animation production company that owns the character, refused to participate in the event beginning in 2007 because of a bevy of adult entertainment establishments that have opened there in recent years. The city also has a street named after the character.

Both cities are part of a recent trend of using fictional characters to promote local projects.

Dobong District has been planning a Dooly theme park with a museum dedicated to the dinosaur since 2007. Lee, the Dobong District Office director, said that construction on the museum, estimated at 13 billion won ($11.6 million), is slated to start next year, with a target completion date of 2015.

Bucheon, meanwhile, has spent the past eight years transforming its image from that of an industrial city to one dedicated to animation. In 1998, the city established the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency (Komacon) and the Bucheon International Comics Festival. Dooly has served as the city’s mascot since 2003.

In the duel over the dual registration certificates for the fictional dinosaur, the Dobong District Office said that the hojuk does not represent a double registration.

“There is no legal conflict between the two documents because what we have issued is the family registry, and the address therein is the character’s hometown,” Lee said.

The hojuk only records one’s birthplace. Registration can change as one moves.

Dooly’s creator, Kim Soo-jung, takes delight in the tussle over his character. He says he is happy that Dooly is being used in so many ways and “hopes it will produce positive results for other cartoonists and artists.”

Dooly was a leading character in “Bomulsum” for 10 years beginning in 1983 and is considered one of the most successful cartoon characters in Korea. An animated series based on the character aired on KBS from 1987 to 1988. In July 1996, a full-length animated film about the baby dinosaur was made. That film was also released in Berlin in January 1999. Two years ago, a new series featuring the character called “New Little Dino Dooly” began airing on SBS and cable channel Tooniverse.

This is not the first conflict between local governments over cultural content. The famous folktale characters Simcheong and Hong Gil-dong were part of similar conflicts.

Gangneung in Gangwon and Jangseong County in South Jeolla fought over Hong Gil-dong, the Korean Robin Hood, while Gokseong County in South Jeolla and Yesan County in South Chungcheong each claimed the right to Simcheong, who jumped into the sea to restore her father’s vision.

By Yoo Sun-young [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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둘리는 이중주민등록자? 前부천시장 해명은..

둘리가 이중주민등록 논란에 휩싸이자 전 부천시장 원혜영 민주당 의원이 자신의 트위터를 통해 해명하는 해프닝이 벌어졌다.

1998~2003년 부천시장을 지낸 원 의원은 8일 자신의 트위터에 “제가 부천시장이던 2003년 부천 명예시민이 된 둘리를 도봉구에서 2007년 뒤늦게 명예주민 등록했기 때문”이라며 둘리의 주민등록증 이미지를 게재했다.

“둘리와 우리만화가 더 큰 사랑을 받을 수 있다면 둘리의 이중, 삼중등록 논쟁도 즐거울 것 같다”는 의견을 밝혔다.

앞서 2일 서울 도봉구가 지난 둘리의 명예 가족관계등록부를 홈페이지를 통해 발급하기로 하면서 둘리가 이미 경기도 부천시에 주민등록 돼 있다는 사실이 논란이 됐다.

둘리는 호적부를 대체하는 가족관계등록부가 도입된 2007년 5월 4일 도봉구 명예호적에 이름을 올렸다.

하지만 2003년 당시 만화산업을 육성하던 부천시는 한국만화영상진흥원이 위치한 부천시 원미구 상동을 둘리의 주민등록상 주소로 정한 바 있다. 또 둘리의 생일을 ‘아기공룡 둘리’가 어린이잡지 `보물섬`에 처음 연재된 1983년 4월 22일로 정해 `830422-1000000`이란 주민등록번호를 부여했다.

둘리는 1983년부터 1993년 까지 만화잡지 `보물섬`에 연재된 `아기공룡 둘리`의 만화캐릭터이다. 만화가 큰 인기를 끌자, 애니메이션, 영화, 뮤지컬 등으로 제작되기도 했다.

한편, 도봉구 민원여권과 관계자는 "둘리의 이중주민등록은 논란이 되지 않는다"며 "그 이유는 부천시는 둘리의 주민등록지이고 도봉구는 둘리의 호적지로 취급되기 때문"이라고 설명했다.

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