|▲ Art Studio INYO / CEO Seunghwa Kim|
Creative contents in this cutting edge tech era is making the animation industry as promising as semiconductor. Leaving the poverty and manic economic development behind, South Korea is now growing as a contents powerhouse as shown and proven in the global K-Wave. Art Studio INYO is a Korean contents creator. The reason it is sharing the center stage of attention is that this relatively small sized regional Korean company recently has drawn large scale investments from animation producers and investment firms in China.
EggGoog goes screen in China, season 2 in India
Based in Suyeong District, Busan, South Korea, INYO is most famous for its brainchild EggGoog, an animation that has drawn high viewer ratings for interesting characters and fascinating story. The Korean animation firm signed a contract with a Chinese animation company last October to make 5 series of EggGoog for the next 10 years on receiving 25 billion won (21 million US dollars) investment followed by Chinese Movie Media Ltd based in Shanghai to make 2 movies of EggGoog on receiving 32 billion won (27 million US dollars).
EggGoog is made by pure Korean technique and the excellence of characters and storyline are the two major factors to draw these bold investments from foreigners. It is truly meaningful that such a small animation firm in South Korea has drawn such as large scale investment from overseas. Chinese Movie Media Ltd in particular is a company established in Shanghai to make investments in movie version animations of INYO. For this, a team is formed in the Shanghai Lingang-Yangtze Valley for animations and PB on which a liaison is made between South Korea and China. The investment has laid the springboard for INYO to launch cinema version EggGoog from November this year as well as an opportunity for INYO to grow as a large scale global animation studio.
Young creators bring young contents
Three young men found a kindred spirit and opened INYO in 2016 and the company has grown to have 49 employees today. CEO Seunghwa Kim started to work in the animation industry from 2002 and wowed the industry circle by being the youngest director of <YooHoo & Friends> season 2 and <Alien Family Jolly Polly> broadcast on KBS2. He also won the director’s prize at the 2013 Korea Animation Award.
INYO joined the China Licensing Expo two years in a row (2018 and 2019) and its brainchild EggGoog drew a surprising viewer ratings when broadcast for a year on SBS from early 2018 to 2019 thanks to interesting characters and fascinating story line where Goog born in the east travels around the world festivals with friends. Alongside TV broadcast, EggGoog also has been shown on VOD and OTT.
The success led to selling byproducts such as drinks, dolls, towels and games, and the familiarity of the characters led INYO to join a number of international fairs such as the American Film Market, Asian Animation Summit, China Licensing Expo, and the Brand Licensing Europe. INYO also listed its name among TOP 10 of the Shanghai MWC/44YFN Award as a sole Korean company and TOP 2 of the MIK 2008 Conference & Twerking season 2.
Animation is a synthetic art
Making an animation takes a lot of time and money as well as hard work. It involves delicate works such as writing scenario, drawing rough sketches, special effects, rendering, dubbing and above all ‘differentiation’. What makes INYO different then is at its balance between 2 dimensional warmth and 3 dimensional creativity. Another difference comes from CEO Kim’s management philosophy:
“What we are doing is to make animations that can give children messages of hope and encouragement to dream. In order to do that, makers of animations need to be satisfied at their work first. It is universally known that animations and games industries are notorious for working long hours but all employees at INYO start and finish work at the set time sharp!”
INYO was inhoused in the Youth Creative Power Plant located in Nam District, Busan on January 2018 and is run based on a trust contract with Tongmyong University LINC+. 21 employees of INYO are Tongmyong University graduates and the university is specialized in digital animation, robot, VR, field training and industry-university cooperation.
INYO also engaged in the CG/VFX training (run by the Busan Film Commission) that fosters next generation convergence contents creators which was carried out as a part of the 2019 Job Renaissance Busan hosted by Busan Metropolitan City and the Ministry of Employment and Labor Busan Office. The company has brought a great fame and pride to the university and CEO Kim is planning to increase the number of employees to 150 by 2020 through its 4 Year Project Plan.
One of the greatest charms of a well-made animation is at its byproducts that can sometimes bring even more profits than the animation alone. Disneyland is a good example in this regard. Knowing this very well, CEO Kim and his team are determined to grow INYO as a global entertainment company over making animations alone and the recent investment from China is backing the possibility.
INYO is ambitious to expand its scope to webtoons and games and their convergence if necessary in order to bring diversity as well as brand new entertainment contents. The company proved its capability by listing its new content ‘Totem Guardians’ in the Domestic Animation Production Support Project and the New Domestic Character Support Project carried out by the Korea Creative Content Agency.
Meanwhile, INYO is working on joint production of EggGoog 2 with Indian Toonz Media Group next year while broadcasting EggGoog in China and Myanmar within this year. In addition, more character byproducts are planned to bring forward to Chinese Spearhead Group, famous in the offline market, and to department stores in Shanghai.
“Young employees in their 30s are one of the biggest assets of INYO because they are the ones who deliver creative and witty ideas to characters and story lines. I and my team are determined to make our dream of being a global entertainment company true and we will work hard. Who knows INYO might grow one day like the legendary global entertainment company Disney?”
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