My kids love Pororo, a cute little animated penguin from Korea who dreams of flying and who plays around with his equally cute friends. Kids from around the world love Pororo.
Even famous pop stars want to be Pororo.
Pororo is one of Korea’s greatest cultural exports, bringing joy to children the all over the world. Pororo has been sold in 110 countries and made over $25 million in sales last year. The emergence of Pororo is indeed a joy to behold.
And Barack Obama wants to kill Pororo.
The American president signed Executive Order 13570 back in April in response to the North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island last year and a lack of progress in getting Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons programs. The Order bans:
[T]he importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services, or technology from North Korea is prohibited.
The problem is that the South Korean animator, Iconix Entertainment, subcontracted part of the animation work for the cartoon series to the North Korean software animation company Samcholli General Corporation from 2002 to 2005. Samcholli did work on 18 of the show’s regular episodes.
That was enough for Radio Free Asia, which declared that the axe was about to fall on our little penguin friend:
Citing Dick Nanto, a senior researcher at the U.S. Congressional Research Service, RFA claimed that the hit animated cartoon series, “Pororo the Little Penguin,” will be on the list of items that Washington will prohibit from being imported.
Iconix Entertainment’s Kim Jong- se, producer of the series, said that talk of a U.S. ban of Pororo is overblown, adding that they have “not received any news” of a ban or even a review of their products.
Kim’s view is backed by an official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry:
U.S. imports of ‘Pororo’ episodes that were made after 2005 without North Korean help should not face any problems in terms of sanctions. And episodes that were made before 2005 could be cleared for export to the U.S. following inspections.
A reading of all of section one of Executive Order 13570 would also seem to let Pororo off the hook since its import had been licensed before the order was signed:
Except to the extent provided in statutes or in licenses, regulations, orders, or directives that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, the importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services, or technology from North Korea is prohibited.
But, no doubt, there will be a few Koreans who will think Obama evil for even trying to stop their beloved penguin.