June 23, 2011 09:30
The popular South Korean animated series "Pororo the Little Penguin" could fall victim to new U.S. sanctions against North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday. The U.S. government announced a new set of sanctions against the North that bans not only imports of finished goods produced there but also products made using its technology.
Eighteen of the 104 episodes of the "Pororo" series, which is hugely popular among children in South Korea, were made by North Korea-based subcontractor Samcholli General Corp. between 2002 and 2005.
"U.S. imports of 'Pororo' episodes that were made after 2005 without North Korean help should not face any problems in terms of sanctions," a Unification Ministry official said. "And episodes that were made before 2005 could be cleared for export to the U.S. following inspections."
The show has been sold to around 110 countries, mainly in Asia and Europe. The blue, goggle-wearing penguin's brand value was estimated at W389.3 billion (US$1=W1,074) according to the Seoul Business Agency, which provides support for South Korea's digital contents industry.
A staffer at Iconix Entertainment, which produces 'Pororo,' said accumulated exports amount to US$4 million. "U.S. exports are not that big, since we only provide the cartoon to one Spanish-language channel in the U.S.," he added.
Under the new sanctions, products manufactured at the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex as well as goods made in the Rajin-Sonbong special economic zone are also expected to be banned from export to the U.S.
Dick Nanto, a researcher at the U.S. Congressional Research Service, said the focus is to include products made using North Korean technology on the list of prohibited shipments. But according to the Unification Ministry, no products manufactured at the Kaesong Industrial Complex are being exported to the U.S., and the two Koreas have not co-produced any movies or animated content since the South imposed sanctions on the North in May last year.
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