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View Full Version : North Korea: an outpost of animation? (Yahoo)


jeremybirn
08-16-2005, 02:01 AM
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea is known for producing ballistic missiles and a nuclear weapons programme. But cuddly cartoon characters?

"Empress Chung" will be the first major feature animated entirely in communist North Korea to enjoy a wide release in a capitalist country when it opens in South Korea on Friday.


It opens in Pyongyang on August 15, the day the Korean peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonial rule but also divided into North and South by the Alied forces.

It will mark the first time a film has opened jointly in North and South Korea, and filmmaker Nelson Shin is thrilled.

"We made it together. We will watch it together. I couldn't be happier," he said.

"Empress Chung" was produced and directed by Shin, who also runs AKOM Production Co., the South Korean animation studio that has been animating "The Simpsons" since that show premiered in 1989.

The Hollywood makers of "The Simpsons" turned to AKOM to tap into a network of highly skilled South Korean animators who could draw the show and cut down on costs because of their lower wages.

Shin has turned to North Korean animators because they are highly skilled.

And even cheaper than those in the South. The estimated cost for animators in North Korea is about one-seventh that of other low-cost centres such as China, according to industry reports.

It took Shin eight years to make the film and numerous trips to China to set up a liaison office to facilitate work with the North Korean animation studio SEK and trips via China and then on to Pyongyang to oversee production.

"The market economy is coming to North Korean animation," Shin told Reuters.

EXPORTING CUDDLY CREATURES

North Korea's impoverished economy is desperately in need of hard foreign currency. The reclusive state is shunned by most of the world for its highly authoritarian rule and is currently the focus of a multinational effort to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Animation has been one of the few things that North Korea -- branded by the Bush administration as being an "outpost of tyranny" -- has been able to sell to overseas investors.

State-owned SEK Studio was founded in 1985 and has grown into one of the largest animation studios in the world with a staff of over 1,500, according to entertainment industry publications. (continued...)


Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050811/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_korea_north_animation;_ylt=Anqtc47f55tT0Ut4RhCGfOrtiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl)


-jeremy

Cronholio
08-16-2005, 02:54 AM
Interesting, the outsource-ee has become the outsource-er. Soon there will be no one left to animate anything at a reasonable price.

HA! HA! HA! My rrridiculously circuitous plan is now one third complete!

http://tfp.killbots.com/wall/119/119_robot-devil_1024.png

ChrisMann
08-16-2005, 03:39 AM
Interesting article. NK did not spring to mind when thinking of animation or outsourcing. I would say congratulations to the person/s responsible for pulling that off. Don't know if I will ever see this movie, depending on its distribution/appeal to me, but we will see.

Kimotion
08-16-2005, 05:06 AM
So South Korea is now outsourcing to North Korea: both essentially within one country.

I will be very curious to watch this, but the US state department bans any goods coming from N.Korea (as if they have any).

Or unless...a South Korean distributers distributes it. We all know that the US gobbles up S.Korean goods like Samsung and Hyundai. So a product enters the US that is distributed by S.Korea, which was actually made in N.Korea? Could there be a loophole?

Beamtracer
08-16-2005, 05:26 AM
It's a good thing that some animation jobs go to North Korea. They need these jobs more than we do, as people in North Korea currently don't have enough food.

Also, in North Korea people work 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no days off. They work hard.

DrFx
08-16-2005, 10:04 AM
It's good that North Korea gets more jobs, but since the studio is state-owned, I'm pretty sure the income won't go to the people. :sad:

jeremybirn
08-16-2005, 12:44 PM
I can't imagine how much it would suck to be an artist growing up in a country like North Korea with so few opportunities, no freedom, and no way to leave. Think of all the talent that goes to waste like that, someone just born in the wrong place at the wrong time who never really gets a chance.

The people getting to work as animators are probably paid more than they could earn anywhere else in that country. Moreover, any hint of openness, international trade, or chances for artists to get work is a welcomed thing, especially in a country where the alternative is just having isolation and a "seige mentality" of thinking the whole world is against them, which is the kind of environment that only makes military leaders stronger. It is kindof funny that North Korea could soon have more 2D feature film animation jobs than the US, though.

-jeremy

DrFx
08-16-2005, 01:16 PM
In a fascist dictatorship, the premium jobs are always: the military, athletics and propaganda. I suppose you could fit all kinds of media under the propaganda umbrella, and perhaps this is a door to cultural openness of NK, in the least, because they have to communicate with their outsourcers!
My view of North Korea is grim, I once saw a documentary about NK refugees fleeing to China! If the living standard of China is bad already (30 Euro/Dollar avg. salary), I can only imagine what NK is like.

PhilOsirus
08-16-2005, 01:18 PM
For some reason I doubt North Korean animators are getting any more food than any other North Koreans.

lightblitter22
08-16-2005, 01:18 PM
If this animated movie becomes successful internationally, it could send a message to ordinary North Koreans that the outside world doesn't automatically shun everything produced by people in that country, and that they do have opportunities to exchange more culturally with the rest of the world and become more 'open' as a country. Of course that isn't left to ordinary people in that country. Still, it is interesting that Kim Jong even permitted this production to take place.

Kimotion
08-16-2005, 10:03 PM
It's a good thing that some animation jobs go to North Korea. They need these jobs more than we do, as people in North Korea currently don't have enough food.

Also, in North Korea people work 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There are no days off. They work hard.

That is because they are forced to by their totalitarian dictator.

Kimotion
08-16-2005, 10:19 PM
If this animated movie becomes successful internationally, it could send a message to ordinary North Koreans that the outside world doesn't automatically shun everything produced by people in that country, and that they do have opportunities to exchange more culturally with the rest of the world and become more 'open' as a country. Of course that isn't left to ordinary people in that country. Still, it is interesting that Kim Jong even permitted this production to take place.

This will only happen IF the people actually find out that the outside world is actually liking their work.

This is probably the most repressive, most isolated society in history. Here's a link from about how closed their society is: it's a bit dry until you reach "Every Aspect of Life" halfway down:

Life Inside North Korea (http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/2003/21269.htm)

Lyr
08-16-2005, 10:20 PM
Still, it is interesting that Kim Jong even permitted this production to take place.

Yup, I always thought that Kimism was extremely isolationist, even in an economic sense. Perhaps this will lead to the fall of that horrible way of life.

mangolass
08-16-2005, 10:30 PM
North Korea is a miserable place. Mr. Ill ~ nice name, eh? ~ Mr. Ill is letting people try to earn money however they can because his country is so desperet for money. Things are so bad that when North Korean illegal immigrants sneak out of their country into China, they are amazed by what they call "a free country" and all the riches and modern technology they see there. If some of the artists in North Korea get to draw animation instead of having to work in a factory then at least thats one good thing ~ maybe sometimes things are so bad in a country that they can only get better from here.

LT

Kimotion
08-16-2005, 10:52 PM
North Korea is a miserable place. Mr. Ill ~ nice name, eh? ~ Mr. Ill is letting people try to earn money however they can because his country is so desperet for money. Things are so bad that when North Korean illegal immigrants sneak out of their country into China, they are amazed by what they call "a free country" and all the riches and modern technology they see there. If some of the artists in North Korea get to draw animation instead of having to work in a factory then at least thats one good thing ~ maybe sometimes things are so bad in a country that they can only get better from here.

LT

I think you are just joking here but his surname is Kim.

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