A lot can happen in Korea in a short time. Koreans are quick to adopt new trends and fashions, and it seems that Korea now has a new idol. This time, I’m not talking about an actor or a K-pop singer, I’m talking about the giant man-sized penguin, Pengsoo. Pengsoo is a mascot from the Korean educational network EBS. A self-proclaimed superstar-wannabe who has come from the south pole to seek world fame starting with Korea.
When you first see his cute face you expect an adorable squeaky voice like the children’s cartoon character Pororo. But Pengsoo, although supposed to be a genderless (펭성) 10-year-old, has the husky voice of a middle-aged man and openly speaks his mind to anyone about anything. In the video I link to below, Pengsoo casually calls the Korean minister of Foreign Affairs, Kang Kyeonghwa 대빵 (big boss) which is simply hilarious.
Maybe his lack of manners and utter disregard for social hierarchy is the main reason for his roaring success in a conservative society like Korea, where politeness and indirectness in speech are the gold standard. Everywhere I went when I was in Korea over the holidays, there were pictures of Pengsoo, people had Pengsoo as their profile picture on social media, and bookstores sold tons of Pengsoo merchandise. Pengsoo was even awarded the honor of ringing the bell at Bosingak in Jongno on New Year’s and has been named “person” of the year 2019.
His trademark greetings Peng-ha (Pengsoo says hi) and Peng-ba (Pengsoo says bye) followed by a high-five gesture are a hit among Koreans, and even kakaotalk, which is Korean people’s favorite chatting app, offers a variety of Pengsoo inspired emoticons as well.
Curious to learn more about Pengsoo? You can meet Pengsoo on his way to the ministry of foreign affairs to meet experts who can help him achieve world fame here. Click the cc button for English subs.