South Korea has a new idol – a giant genderless penguin with a gruff voice, a brazen mindset and a hunger for fame.
Its name is Pengsoo, and by many typical mascot procedures, it’s not charming.
It tells people not to cheer it up, is often decked in sunglasses and its voice seems like that of a middle aged man in spite of being 10 years old.
Yet the expressionless giant penguin, which was initially intended at kids, has now gained a big fan base amongst many millennials who find its blunt character rejuvenating.
The 2.1 m giant penguin was even called South Korea’s “Person of the Year” – despite obviously not being an individual – even beating contenders like K-pop phenomenon BTS.
Celebrity News The back talking penguin
The 10- year-old penguin is initially from the Antarctic, however made its method to South Korea to become a star, according to Pengsoo’s developers, the Education Broadcasting System (EBS).
Its objectives, they said, were to replicate Pororo, the cute goggle-wearing character enjoyed by kids all throughout the country. It also wished to be more popular than BTS.
It’s “it” due to the fact that Pengsoo is neither male nor female – EBS, where officially Pengsoo is works as student, are eager to stress that point.
EBS producer Lee Seulyena told the BBC News Korean that the character was produced to be someone the “whole household might like”, targeting kids around the age of10
” I desired to [make the character] three-dimensional,” she said. “Adorable and cuddly characters are simply what adults[expect of a kid’s character] In reality, kids likewise have a desire to reveal themselves truthfully.”
The huge penguin went on to end up being a struck with young people in their 20 s and 30 s. The EBS YouTube channel that includes Pengsoo, Giant Peng TELEVISION, has more than 1.2 million customers.
Pengsoo is also a popular visitor on talk programs and TELEVISION programmes. He’s even met the foreign minister of South Korea, Kang Kyung-wha.
But what’s the appeal?
The business behind Pengsoo states its appeal depends on its capability to “not be connected to hierarchy or rank” however yet still hold a form of “childish innocence”.
In multiple videos, it refers to the chief of EBS Kim Myung-joong without the anticipated honorific “Sajangnim” – a regard to regard used to describe somebody older or in a greater position.
It also frequently jokingly blames Mr Kim when something fails, akin to somebody blaming their employer for all their issues.
” Pengsoo treats everybody equally whether its equivalent is a legislator, a business president or a popular celebrity. This is actually lovely,” one 31- year-old engineer and Pengsoo fan told news agency Yonhap News.
” Pengsoo promotes what office workers in their twenties and thirties think (however can not say),” expert Ha In-Whan from Seoul-based Meritz Securities Co stated in a report.
” The audacity to describe the head of its company without honorifics and say, ‘Don’t inform me to cheer up when I can’t,’ draws empathy.”
Pengsoo also brags that it’s a “super star”, something that breaks South Korean society, where individuals are taught to be outwardly modest and simple.
According to Mr Ha, Pengsoo might eventually go on to be worth more than Pororo as its character is more popular amongst those in their 20 s and 30 s – those with higher buying power.
The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade also say there is the capacity of Pengsoo going international, according to a report by The Diplomat.
So do not be amazed if you soon see a huge gruffy penguin turn up around you, it’s simply Pengsoo.
Reporting by Yvette Tan and BBC News Korean’s Wonsang Kim