Anime is a global phenomenon, while Chinese animation is enjoying a headline-grabbing boom at home. But animation in neighboring South Korea remains a “hidden industry,” argues Youtuber Wookong in his history of the industry.
Over 27 brisk minutes, Wookong runs us through the development of Korean animation, from rudimentary commercials and anti-communist propaganda in the 1950s and 1960s to its current place on the cusp of global success. We see clips of cheap anime knock-offs, a show Wookong calls “the Korean Simpsons,” and recent indie releases like Seoul Station (image at top).
The video doubles up as a primer on South Korea’s postwar politics, which shaped the animation industry at every step. Early series suffered censorship yet benefited from protectionist policies. The run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics was studded with sport-themed shows. More recently, now-disgraced ex-president Park Geun-hye stimulated the creative sector as part of her economic strategy.