Korean Animation

I’m sure that there are many people who are aware that the Simpsons are animated in Korea. This fact has even been lampooned on the show itself. (unfortunately I couldn’t find video from that episode).  That same studio has long been involved with animating other American cartoons since the 1980’s including such greats that I enjoyed as a kid, like “Muppet Babies”, “G.I. Joe” and “The Transformers”.  The studio is called AKOM, and at the head of it all is Nelson Shin.

Originally AKOM and other Korean studios were given animation “grunt work” from American companies, because the quality of the work was good, and the labor cost was cheaper.  Basically the grunt work involved drawing the same picture over and over again frame by frame, a very tedious job.  American companies found that by outsourcing this type of work to Korean companies, they could save production costs.

Companies like AKOM also did similar grunt work for Japanese Animation companies.  The practice has been in tact since then.  However, as Korea’s technology began to improve, so did it’s animation technique.  Practically every cartoon made on the Cartoon Network these days is actually made in Korea.  Don’t believe me?  Check the credits.  I actually once even met someone who had worked on the show Ed, Edd, and Eddy.

I think the outsourcing had an interesting effect on world animation.  Everyone thinks about Disney when it comes to animation, but I don’t think they’ve created anything that really captured people’s imaginations since 1994’s “The Lion King”.  Think about all the Disney classics made before “The Lion King”.  We have, “The Little Mermaid”, “Alladin”, “Snow White”, “Cinderella”, “Fantasia”, “Peter Pan”, and the like.  What has come after “The Lion King”?  Probably the only thing worth mentioning is “Lilo and Stitch.”  Sure, “Pocohantas” and “Mulan” were interesting but are hardly remembered as classics.

I think that this is a result of the decline in American animation.  People say that the reason that America drawn animation has declined is because of Pixar and Dreamworks.  That’s probably true, but I think we also have to take into account that after most animation began to be outsourced to Korea in the 1980’s and 1990’s, fewer artists in the U.S. could find jobs as animators, leading to a general decline in talent.

Meanwhile Korean animation is on the up and up.  As the years go by it’s getting better and better.

Compare AKOM’s heavily criticized work on “The Transformers” from the 1980’s with it’s later work on “The Simpsons”, clearly the technique is getting a lot better.

If you’d like to know more about AKOM itself, here’s a news piece on the studio.



14 Responses to “Korean Animation”

  1. Why jesus allows this sort of thing to continue is a mystery.

  2. I didn’t know those cartoons were animated in Korea :O
    It’s awesome how many cool things (like these and the google logos) are created in Korean!
    Congrats to all of them! 🙂

  3. Umm. Pixar *is* Disney.

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      Yes it is. But Pixar and Dreamworks’ rise has lead to a decline in American drawn animation. I doubt we’ll ever see another Disney masterpiece the likes of Pinocchio, Fantasia, or The Little Mermaid coming out of there again.

  4. Wow, I didn’t know any of that!

  5. I already knew that the simpsons were anmated in korea. But I think most of animations which are made in korea(not the simpsons) are not as popular as the pixar’s or other japanese animations. It’s not the matter of the techniques. It’s attributable to the contents. In my opinion, the most important thing in the animation industry is the content that can attract many targets like a The Pokemon series or Toy Story series .

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      It also matters on whether the animation promotes a toy or not. If it does, then there’s plenty of reason to show them on regular TV so people will buy toys. POKEMON, HELLO!!!! Toy Story is a movie, and I don’t know if we can judge it by the same bar.

      Most of the animation made in Korea is shown on cable channels like the Cartoon Network in the U.S. (Teen Titans, Transformers Animated, etc…)

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  9. 우아!!! I didn’t know about that!!!
    The Simpsons are veeeery famous here in Italy and there are plenty of toys and stuff that children buy everyday. I think everyone would be surprised knowing that they’re not animated in the USA!
    I completly agree with the fact that there has been a decline in animators’ talent and I personally prefer classics (White Snow is absolutely my fav one… I know all the words but in French. LOL 🙂 ). Anyway, Diseny and Pixar (which are the same thing) made some really good animation movies in the last years like UP, Wall-e, Ratatouille, Madagascar and so on. In my opinion, the real problem is that they make many animation movies during a year rather than doing just one or two with a big advertisement just like it used to be in the past. Children can’t completly enjoy the last movie because there is another one upcoming the next month. “The Lion King”, “Pinocchio”, “Tarzan” and “Alladin” are “the Classics” because we had the time to enjoy them completly and also to learn them.
    The majority of children, young people or adults can easily recognize the theme song of “The Simpsons”. That’s also why it is regarded as a “classic animation serie”. Music has a big effect on our memory too.

  10. Let Me Watch This Name…

    great profession, it’s great post. the information is great to know!…

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