Interview with Young Man Kang, director of Kimchi Warrior animation series

Young Man KangWhat experiences do you have in animation? What does this art mean to you, Mr. Young Man Kang?

As a filmmaker, I have made it a priority to have experience in both live-action & CG animation, as even live-action films need CG effects.  So one has to understand both CG and animation to direct a successful movie.

My first experience with animation was during my college years in Seoul, Korea.  I concentrated on the meticulous art of clay animation.  My graduation project was created using various clay materials and was shot with a 16mm Bolex Camera. The Bolex camera has the ability to shoot in stop-motion frames.
There were no CG effects around at the time.

My second animation experience was in 2005, when I directed a 6-minute trailer using 3D animation in Chennai, India.  I stayed in Chennai for about 6 months and had an amazing experience working in a completely different culture.

I had the opportunity to work with close-to 60 Indian animators who helped me better understand the new culture, as well as, have a stronger grasp on CG technology.  Most specifically, I was able to learn the painstaking process of creating digital creatures.

Preproduction and ADR (Audio Dialogue Recording) took place in Hollywood, California.  Soon after, all of the pre-production materials were brought to India.
There, the whole creation of the film’s cinema graphics occurred.  Under my direction, the India team completed the film that was then transferred into 35-mm film.

Overall, this experience was very valuable for my future film endeavors that also required CG animation.  Moreover, it allowed me to better understand the whole process as a filmmaker.

Kimchi WarriorWhat can you tell me about Kimchi Warrior?  Is it an animation series exclusive for the Internet? Where can we see Kimchi Warrior? 
How many episodes are in this series? Who produced it? What animation techniques were used for this production? What kinds of difficulties did you encounter in creating Kimchi Warrior?

Kimchi is one of the world’s top 5 healthiest foods.  It is believed it even prevented the outbreak of SARS in South Korea. Kimchi’s probiotics protect the body against even the worst viruses and bacteria.

So when I was developing a new character for my animation, I wanted to promote Kimchi and Tae Kwon Do into the world of entertainment.  This was the birth of the Kimchi Warrior superhero.

Based on the premise of Popeye, Kimchi Warrior obtains supernatural powers by eating Kimchi.  He strives to defend our health from the world’s most notorious diseases like Swine Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Malaria, SARS etc.

Kimchi Warrior has received international recognition and is currently live on YouTube with 15 episodes. You can find episodes of Kimchi Warrior at or just search “Kimchi Warrior” on YouTube.

The animation’s production company, YMK Films of Los Angeles, and Young Man Kang, the producer/ director, has also received many awards.

With only a limited number of animators in both Los Angeles and India, the team was still able to produce 15 episodes within a year.  The animation uses 2D animation with Flash, Photoshop, and After Effects. Only one character, the giant robot Onggi Bot, is in 3D.  He was created by the very talented Christopher Nadolski, an animator who recently received an Academy Award for his visual effects in The Life of Pi.

We cast all voice-over actors in Hollywood.  One noted voice-actor was Tim Colceri, the door gunner in Standley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

The biggest difficulties of production were the extremely low budget and short time constraint.  Still, with only $100,000 USD and a year of production, we made 15 episodes.

I really would like to thank to all of the voice-over actors and artists who graciously worked within our low budget restraint.

The Kimchi Warrior superhero saga continues on as a book series written by Cristina Ducu, a talented actress who also has experience in Korean culture.

The Onggi Bot animation will be screened at the biggest Onggi Festival in Olsan in May of 2013. “Onggi” are traditional earthenware vessels that store key fermented ingredients in Korean cuisine. Onggi vessels are porous with tiny holes that allow air to penetrate inside while still preserving ingredients for long periods of time.

Also, Canal Plus, a TV station in France will put Young Man Kang’s recent film activities and footage of Kimchi Warrior in their documentary.  The documentary narrated by “Antoine de Caunes” introduces Korean culture to the French community and will air this May.

How much does it cost to produce an animation in Korea?

In general, the cost of film projects in Korea depend on the amount of characters, backgrounds, and pixel quality wanted.  For 2D animation for TV, the cost ranges between $50,000 – $80,000 USD.  For 
3D animation, the cost rises to around $100,000 – $150,000 USD
.  The cost of theatrical animation is twice as expensive.

How many animated films (series and films) are made in Korea in one year?

In Korea, very few animated feature films are produced.  Within the past year, less than 10 features were made.
   However, there are about 30 – 50 TV animation programs that are currently airing.

Tell us about the animation industry in Korea.

It is evident that animation is not at the forefront of Korean film production.  Compared to Korea’s live-action films, there has been no record-breaking box office hit for a feature animation.  However, animation is a newly emerging field for the nation.  Several animation projects are currently being co-developed with US production teams.  Moreover, a Korean animation show was even sold in the US, and is now airing on Cartoon Network and Nick.

Have the American and European markets worked with South Korea?

With Korean animation emerging on an international scale, Hollywood animation companies have now been looking towards South Korea to create their animations.  However, there have currently been no projects with the European market.

How many animation studios and animators are currently in South Korea?

In Korea, there are about 300 animation production companies.  And in total, there are only about 4,000 – 5,000 animators.  
The Korean animation product & licensing business exports about $100 million USD a year and imports about $7 million USD.

How has South Korea’s government helped to facilitate the development of the animation industry?

The Korean government has also taken notice of the developing art of animation production.  With the creation of cultural supporting programs, many animations have received grants and investments made by the government.  Each year, the percentage grows for the Korean animation industry.