Thursday, December 22, 2011

Redrawing the map. Is North Korea a content king in the making? Reunification could be a talent boon for companies south of the border.

Back in late 2009 and early 2010, as part of my foresighting work at Nokia, I put together a “Trends Constellations” package listing 20 potential trends for 2010 and beyond. (I’m happy to share this deck with my work colleagues. Please contact me via enterprise channels.)

One of my wild card predictions in that presentation was the re-unification of the Koreas. Why would this matter to the telecoms biz? Because a number of the wireless industry’s major players are just south of the border, and they could, at some point have quick access to some significant if a bit rough content talent sitting just to the north.

It’s not very well known that one of North Korea’s main exports to the world is kiddie content: inexpensive cartoons and games including mobile games. According to internet sources such as Wikipedia, some of the world’s largest content studios are actually North Korean including a company called SEK Studio that has more than 1500 artists working on content subcontracted or sub-subcontracted to them from more than 70 companies around the globe including Italian, French, South Korean, and American companies.

While some of this info is difficult to verify by normal channels such as public financial records, it does seem to be the case that television production companies in Italy and France are directly using North Korean animators, and some large global companies are using North Korean gaming studios to create computer and mobile games.

I’ll avoid using this blog to make any political statements, but you can Google around yourself to find the names of some of the Western companies involved in these deals and make your own judgements.

Whether my 2009 wild-card prediction of a Korean peninsula re-unification seems more or less far fetched now is difficult to say. But as former German president Horst Köhler advised South Korea a number of years back, prepare to reunify with the North sooner than you expect. And Köhler warned of the complications of re-unification. “Learn from us,” he said, referring to the re-unification of the two Germanys.

But along with the complications will come opportunities for companies such as Samsung and LG, and any other company quick enough to see a potential new talent pool. This certainly won’t be child’s play, and it won’t be all fun and games. But here’s hoping for a picture of happiness for future generations.

Getting along side-by-side. Reunification of North and South?
North Korean animation and gaming studios could be a boon for Korean companies south of the border:

French “Prudence Petitpas” made in North Korea.

The “King Lion Simba” TV series (not Disney’s) from North Korea via Italy's Mondo TV:


Thomas said...

I think the world will definitely benefit just in case the two Koreas will reunite again. Not only there will be peace and stability in that region, but we will be able to see what they are capable of achieving without war in their midst.

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