|▲ Pino Familia World Pino / CEO Lee So-young
As a child, you may remember the story of Pinocchio, whose nose grows when he tells lies. “Pinocchio” was published in the 19th century and is still one of the most read books in the world even after 140 years later. There is a person who created his girlfriend ‘Pinocchia’ with a fresh idea, ‘Does Pinocchio have a girlfriend?’ There is a Pinocchia theme park in Junggye-dong, Nowon-gu, Seoul that makes the world where imagination becomes reality: it is called World Pino. When the reporter visited World Pino for an interview, CEO Lee So-young looked innocent and was full of anticipation to decorate the block room using Lego blocks. It seemed that the space called World Pino was born with CEO Lee’s technique to read children’s minds, artistic sensibility, and creative spirit.
Q. I am curious about the background of the birth of Pinocchia.
A. One day while I was telling the story of Pinocchio to the children, a 5-year-old child spoke to me and asked: “What if Pinocchio is bored? I wish there was a female Pinocchio.”
The child’s thinking bag must have thought that Pinocchio was lonely.
I immediately sketched Pinocchio’s girlfriend. And the series of 10 books was completed. This book became a fairy tale called ‘Pinocchia’, a character fairy tale drawn with children.
Q. What motivated you to establish ‘World Pino’ of Pino Familia?
A. I am a doer who wants to turn imagination into reality. I enjoyed writing fairy tales because I wanted to develop children’s imaginative power, and I hoped that children would have a diversity of thoughts while reading fairy tales. In imagination, children can fly like birds and explore the depths of the sea. So, I created a message and an educational story, and I founded World Pino in anticipation of broadening the scope of children’s thoughts. I have already spent 30 years with children. Conversations with children were always new, and children with unique tendencies used to be models for fairy tales. I tend to respect children’s wild thoughts, so it seems that this space was created by jotting down a lot of ideas.
Q. Please introduce World Pino, which is being reopened after renewal.
A. The newly renewed ‘World Pino’ is a theme amusement park where you can experiment and enjoy about 20 occupational games. It is a new idea and conversion of a job that is not limited to copying the character but adds imagination through play. World Pino is divided into play and experiment. In the play space, children can make friends and develop social skills on their own, so they can learn the leading social domain. Experience can be described as an accumulation of confidence. You can discover hidden innate capabilities through small experiences in infancy. Both are essential, like a rite of passage in infancy. World Pino aims to always imagine, create, and present to children.
Q. I heard that World Pino is composed of a platform linked to education. What kind of education is it?
A. World Pino is a place where education is the base. Children’s play becomes education, and education can move the future. It is a space that makes you think about how to play rather than what to play with. If someone catches a fish, they don’t know how to fish. Teaching how to fish is a more important educational content. That will give better results. Because one thought creates a thousand types and even the invisible and intangible.
﹣ CEO Lee So-young, became a ‘Pied Piper’ in her 20s
There are so many modifiers that follow CEO Lee So-young. CEO aside, she is a doctor of Art Psychology, children’s story writer, poet and the one who is the chairwoman of the board who founded Seonghee Private School for Toddlers at the young age of 20. When Lee was a college student, she taught two children how to draw at home at the request of a neighbor’s lady. In less than a year, through word of mouth from the children, 2 to 70 children began to gather at Lee’s house. When it became noisy in the neighborhood, she started looking for a building, and that place became Seonghee Private School for Toddlers.
Q. What are the differentiated strengths of Seonghee Private School for Toddlers?
A. Play activities with peers have a great influence on social development in infancy and are effective for brain development. Children between the ages of 5 and 7 enjoy imaginative play and role play. They express everything in their lives that they have experienced at home or in books through play, understand people and things, complete incomplete knowledge, and exercise their rich imagination. Through role play, they naturally learn the right attitude to life, understand and empathize with others, share opinions and solve problems through cooperative play, and develop thinking, judgment, and immersion. Seonghee helps professors and early childhood experts in each field, such as art, music, and education, identify, observe, and combine children’s words, behaviors, tendencies, and psychology in play so that each child can develop their innate talents, and limitless potential capabilities. Teachers always study play for education and hold regular academic conferences to discuss how to help children grow and broaden their thinking.
Q. What is the most rewarding thing about running a kindergarten for over 30 years?
A. The most rewarding thing is when a child finds his or her hidden talent and sees the light. While filming a movie, a child told me that he had a talent for acting, and that he is now an actor. Even before entering school, there is education and play appropriate to the age. It is very important to discover the hidden capacities of each child through play at the age of 4 to 5 and experiences at the age of 6 to 7. It is very rewarding to see the children develop their abilities, gain confidence, develop what they are good at and what they like, and enjoy a fun group life. I went to work today with a smile on my face, with a sense of duty that someone should open the way.
Q. What do you wish for the children who passed through Seonghee?
A. What am I good at and enjoy doing? It is the question keep asking oneself. Finding out what you enjoy and what you like leads to a plan. Nothing much will achieve without it. The role of patents is as important as the children finding themselves what they really want to do with their life. However, too much thinking might lead to missing the right time.
Q. What are the advantages of private kindergartens? As the branch head of the northern Seoul district of the Korea Kindergarten Association, what do you think should government do?
A. Private kindergartens with a 100-year tradition have brought about social education and national development through hard work, dedication, and service. A driving force behind Korea’s global growth was the presence of great talents, and personality and creative thinking in childhood. Private kindergartens are autonomously operated and equipped with proven programs and manuals, making it suitable for children to live with curiosity. Many parents want to raise a righteous and creative child. I am sure that private kindergartens will brighten the way. I hope that Korea will become a country where the autonomy of private kindergartens is guaranteed. Creative talents are not created within a training manual that is set like an account book.
Q. Please tell us about your other social activities.
A. I am running ‘Pino Books’ publishing house and ‘Haegil’, a non-profit corporate culture and arts group. Publishing house publishes children’s newspapers, produces children’s stories, and develops customized books and teaching materials. ‘Kids Pang Pang’, which began publication in May, is the first newspaper for preschoolers in Korea, and 18 character companies participated in line with social contribution activities. Kids Pang Pang surpassed 10,000 copies in 5 months of publication and is on its way to publishing 20,000 copies. ‘Classmade’, which is planned to be published this year, is a newspaper specializing in the elderly.
Q. You have a lot of unique and brilliant ideas. What do you do to get creative inspiration?
A. Creative inspiration is not difficult. You just need to get into the habit of asking the question ‘why?’ several times about the result. One why can lead to a cause, and two whys can make a difference. Unexpected results excite us. Creative ideas can also make life enjoyable. There are many parents who want their children to grow up creatively. Do you want to know how? Children are greatly influenced by their environment.
Q. As a fairy tale writer, please tell us your favorite fairy tale and explain why.
A. My favorite children’s books are ‘Going to the Mart with Mom’, ‘Shall We Play Together?’, ‘My Cat is Mong’, ‘My Friend Robert’, ‘My Story Book’, and ‘I Have a Name’. The title is unfamiliar, but this children’s book is a children’s book made by 6-year-old children themselves. Even when I decided on the title, I think I wrote down what I wanted to say. Children read a lot of storybooks, but they love to read their own storybooks. I like it the most because it is a children’s book with pictures that I want to imagine and write down my experiences.
CEO Lee So-young says that her hobby is ‘doing what I like and finding what I like’. Her 365 days are like a picnic. Today she goes on a picnic with paper and a brush, and tomorrow she is ready to soar like a bird with a pen and a book. She seeks happiness by imagining first to practice what she likes today. Due to the genetic influence of her maternal grandfather who was a culture and artist, and her mother who is a writer, Lee is an artist who loves culture and art and a female leader who leads the baby industry in Korea. She is also a Ph.D. in early childhood education that incorporates play education, serving as a great guide for children. She conveys the message, “I hope that children who can move the universe, carrying the future, look at the world and find a point of contact between me and the world and have a universal theory of value.” CEO Lee is working hard today to create a better educational environment and play-structure for children. She smiles as she promises once again that she will continue to study various approaches and theories, hold children’s hands, and be together forever.
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