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Lessons for the world's kids from a Korean Penguin and Bus
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Right from the birth of penguin Pororo more than ten years ago, he's been a huge hit among Korean kids. As part of our series of interviews with people across Asia-Pacific who use the Internet to create, connect, and grow, we asked Joong-Ku Choi, Head of New Business Department at Pororo's parent company, ICONIX Co., to say how he turned his company’s animated characters'
success in Korea
into a global phenomenon.
1. Pororo and Tayo are long-standing popular channels on YouTube. What’s the secret of their success?
The Pororo and Tayo series were created at a child’s eye view, to inspire them to solve life’s big problems — after all, 2 and 3 year olds deal with hardships just as much as adults. When we develop the storylines, we think about the difficulties in life that children tend to experience — and we actually interview them. That’s why children can relate to the stories and it makes them want to watch the same video over and over again. For this reason, our videos have a relatively long life cycle.
Pororo and Joong-Ku Choi posing for a photo. Pororo is the penguin on the left.
One thing that caught us by surprise was audience reaction outside of Korea. Initially, we only expected to get a response from English-speaking countries, but we were very pleased to get a lot of feedback from Turkey and countries from the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates telling us that the stories were beautiful. Viewers from the Middle East seem to really respond to the Korean sensibilities expressed in the videos. We were therefore inspired to create new content for a global audience.
2. What inspires you to create your stories?
The main inspiration is seeing children playing happily. We try to think about what elements make kids laugh. Once we find these elements, we combine them with our strong points and come up with new ideas. We recently launched a new nursery rhymes series and, although it only launched in June, Pororo and Tayo’s nursery rhymes have already attracted 3.4 million and 3.6 million views, respectively.
3. You’ve launched Pororo and Tayo game apps on Google Play as well. How is that going?
While viewers only watch videos on YouTube, they can do more through Google Play apps. Children can become the main characters of the story, and can even change the endings. We are also developing content for parents. So far, more than 70% of the downloads have come from outside of Korea, not just the USA, but Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Egypt.
4. What’s next for Pororo and Tayo?
We believe we can influence kids’ content on YouTube as much as Psy did for music videos. The videos will be dubbed in different languages and the timeless stories about growing up will make kids want to watch the videos many times over. Pororo and Tayo are all about “loving to play.” Children learn about leadership, rules, and social when they play. Our main goal is to help children to play all day and have fun by watching our videos on YouTube. Furthermore, we will make content that kids can engage in, to stimulate their creativity — and help them to go outside and play.
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