For the second week in a row we have sent a key staff member abroad to help Little Airplane build bridges and make new friends in a far-away land. This time it was our Head of Production, Tom Brown, who has just returned from SICAF. Below you will find his report. Why do we take so many trips at Little Airplane? Because the preschool TV business is an international business. I am always amazed by who we meet and what we learn on our trips. As always, I encourage you to leave comments and questions for Tom!
All my best,
When Josh first asked me to travel to Seoul, South Korea to represent Little Airplane at SICAF, of course I agreed. I have never been to the Pacific Rim and it sounded quite exotic, especially to represent in such a faraway land. I didn’t know much about Seoul but I did know that Korea had a huge animation community but it takes more than just great animation skills to have a community, it takes soul. So I was hoping that in the land called Seoul I would get a glimpse of its “soul.”
My first day in Seoul started at SICAF, where I picked up my credentials quite early at 8 a.m. I guess I had arrived before the day got started for the organizers and volunteers. There were about 100 young and eager Korean 20-somethings wearing the same pink t-shirt, setting up for the day. They were very polite and falling over themselves to help me get what I needed. It was quite a sight to see, especially when you’re accustomed to doing jumping jacks to get the Starbucks barista to pay attention to you.
SICAF was the animation festival event and attached to it was SPP, which was a character licensing show. Segregated from the purity of the artistic content, SPP is where the business was done. There were representatives big and small for all of the major animated characters out there. Some you surely have heard of like Pororo and Sponge Bob and others that were totally unknown to a foreigner like myself but extremely popular with the locals. Play-sets, plush, sheets and slippers all donning the cute, sometimes cuddly, characters that are very, very popular. The suits and the kids were passionate about their favorite characters.
Prior to traveling to Seoul, we had met with KOTRA, the Korean trade and investment office run by the government. While attending SICAF, we had planned to meet with a variety of animation companies and broadcasters. KOTRA was invaluable. They not only handled the arrangement of these meetings, over 25 of them, but they also assigned to me a translator and guide, Ms. Michaela Kim. KOTRA is an extremely passionate group, who wants nothing more than to assist the growing companies in Korea. I could see their pride for the Korean companies, as they were very strategic to match the needs of our company with the needs of theirs.
Each day was more productive than the next as I attended meetings and screenings. It was a good blend of the productive and artistic aspects of my time there in Seoul. While there I thought it was essential to see some of the history of Seoul. One of the palaces, the smallest of them all, was perfectly preserved as it was over 1,000 years ago. The detail in the craftsmanship and the grandiose, yet simplistic, design was most impressive. And I thought our 200-year-old office was impressive.
To say I was impressed with Seoul and South Korea would be an understatement. It’s a sparkling land filled with very talented, artistic people who are hard working and passionate about their culture, their land and their work, and want to share it with the world. Did Seoul have “soul?” Absolutely and it was everywhere!!!