Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cartoon classics become cultural heritage

From left, “The Scroogy Old Man” (Gobau) by Kim Sung-whan.

Classic Korean comics have been registered by the Cultural Heritage Administration.
The Korea Manhwa Contents Agency said that it is the first time to include the historic cartoons “The Rabbit and the Monkey” by Kim Yong-whan, “Searching for Mother” by Kim Jong-rae and “The Scroogy Old Man” (Gobau) by Kim Sung-whan as cultural heritage.

“This designation has significance in that comic material, which has been marginalized in cultural sectors, has come into the spotlight,” Oh Jae-rok, head of the agency, said in a statement.

Once registered as a cultural heritage, the items are subject to proper utilization and preservation under government guidelines.
“Searching for Mother” by Kim Jong-rae have been registered as cultural heritages.
                   / Courtesy of Korea Manhwa Contents Agency and Korea Times file

“The Rabbit and the Monkey” (1912-1998) is based on an original literary piece by Ma Hae-song (1905-1966) and first published on May 1, 1946. Kim was admired by other cartoonists of his time for his poignant satire. As the nation’s oldest comic book, it used animal characters to personify humans. It criticized the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule of Korea and expressed the author’s wish for the liberation of the nation through the symbols and metaphors.

First released in 1958, “Searching for Mom” is set in the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), portraying a boy named Geum-jun looking for his mother who was sold as a slave. The epic cartoon satirizes devastated, corrupt society after the 1950-53 Korean War by likening it to the Joseon era. It was a sensational work which printed 10 editions until 1964, becoming the nation’s first bestselling comic book.

“The Scroogy Old Man” was the longest-running comic strip in Korea which ran from 1955 in major daily newspapers. It references important academic and historical values in the study of modern history.

The agency aims to make other rare comics material part of the cultural heritage in order to create a richer understanding of the genre.

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