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Early History of Korean Animation (Ani)

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

Before mid-1950’s, the Korean market was dominated by imported animated works from the US (Disney) and Japan. Starting from mid-1950’s, there were some local animated works in the form of advertisement with duration of about 1 minute.  

One of the well-known animated advertisements is that for Jinro Soju (a Korean alcoholic drink) which was made in full-animation style imitating the Disney works, utilizing 24 frames per second and adopting the new pre-recording technique through which the characters lip movements matched the words they were speaking.

The first full-length Korean-made animated work, Hong Gil-Dong, appeared in January 1967, and was a huge box office success.  This work was based on the story about the Korean superhero, Hong Gil-Dong (the Korean version of Robin Hood).

The first Korean-made full-length stop-motion animation, Heungbu and Nolbu, was screened in theaters in June 1967, and the story was based on a traditional tale of two brothers, one poor but kind and the other rich but selfish and cruel.

Some more animated works were made and they were mainly based on traditional Korean folktales or famous literature works (e.g., Robert Lewis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island) which could help appeal to wider audience and ensure box office success.


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