|Name||Republic Of Korea (Daehan-minguk) (대한민국)|
|Human Name||Im Yong Soo (임용수/任勇洙, Imu Yon Su)|
|Hair Color||Black (early manga), Brown (current, unused anime design)|
|Volume||Hetalia: Axis Powers Volume 1|
|Strip||Korea Joke Series|
|Anime||Episode 14 (non-speaking animation error - other scenes cut from series)|
Korea (韓国, Kankoku) is a supporting character in the series Hetalia: Axis Powers. He represents the country of South Korea. Between 2007 and 2008, Himaruya gave out human names to some of the characters and he received the name Im Yong Soo (任勇洙, Imu Yon Su; Korean: 임용수). He was originally slated to make an appearance in the anime, judging by an early character design on the site (which was later removed), but was cut from the series, due to controversy (see "Appearances" and "Trivia").
Korea has short, black-brown hair, with a flyaway curl on the right side of his head. The curl is often drawn with a face in the middle, to represent his "Korean spirit" though it appears that it was originally drawn as part of the yin yang symbol. He generally has on a high-spirited facial expression. He dresses in a white and navy blue hanbok with long, oversized sleeves, though it appears to be a mixture of the male and female styles of hanbok as well as hanbok from different eras of Korea, and his jeogori seems to be in two pieces rather than one.
His actual height is not stated, but it is mentioned that he is significantly taller than both of his "brothers," and that he happens to be very muscular due to his experience in the military.
Personality and Interests
Korea is a free-spirited type, obsessed with video games, dramas, studying abroad, and the internet. He always claims credit for others' inventions, and feels that his older brothers should call him their older brother.
Though he is fundamentally serious and likes to put the family first, he can't keep his hands off his brothers. He often uses phrases like, "Da-ze!" or "Uri nara mansae!", which means roughly "Hooray for our land!". When speaking to elders, however, he adopts more formal and polite speech.
It is said that he loves kimchi so much that he took it up into outer space, making France pissed off.
Korea has also been shown to be very good at drawing, as can be seen in a comic strip with China, in which he tried to teach his older brother how to draw anime.
It is also shown that Korea is very bright, seeing that he was able to create the Mind-Reading Binoculars perfectly when Japan failed to do so. But the same comic strip also reveals how clueless he is when he tries to use the binoculars to see what China was thinking of him, only to be devastated to see that China is glad that Korea took the stuffed animals because he didn't want them. Korea concluded that "Korea didn't make them" because he believed they didn't work.
Main Article: China
He is obsessed with China and wants to be acknowledged by him, but his feelings are unrequited. When he "invented" a pair of mind-reading binoculars and saw that China despaired of his very presence, he believed that they were broken and as a result, he denied making them.
In another modern strip, he and China worked together in animation production.
Main Page: England
Korea, after telling Japan and China that they should call him "big brother" and he should be the boss of them, was turned into a child by England in order to "help" Japan and China. He said that, because he was so cute that even if he was loud they would forgive him. China and Japan admitted he was cute and that it could work out as England had intended, however they left him with England after finding that he still had a strong interest in their chests (young Korea was seen with a bump on his head, as well.)
Main Article: Hong Kong
Their relationship has been shown during the 2011 Halloween event, when Hong Kong told Korea that "You really like teacher, don't you?" while Korea said that he didn't like him but that China likes him, instead. During the Christmas 2011 event, Korea is fearful of damaging the "cool and cute and sensitive image" he believes Hong Kong has for him if Hong Kong catches Korea playing an MMO in a jersey, but Hong Kong appears unfazed and barges in when overhearing this sentiment.
Main Article: Japan
Korea claims to hate Japan, but is constantly copying his style and creations, and believes that he has ownership over his breasts. At one point, he wanted to dig a tunnel to connect both their countries. He tried to justify his complicated relationship with the claim that tsundere originated from him.
In the original World Conference strip, it is shown that he will go out of his way to disagree with any of Japan's opinions, preferring to side with America instead - even when Japan and America have already agreed.
Korea was originally part of the cast for season 1, and was shown in various promotional images for the series, as well as appearing in the official site's lineup of characters.
However, several South Korean citizens, after learning of the existence of the series, found the character to be mocking and in poor taste. Reasons for the controversy ranged from the character's bluffing and perversion (which was taken as a slight against Korea for its claims about ownership of the Liancourt Rocks, which Japan also claims ownership of), to his hanbok being drawn incorrectly.
An online petition was launched to get the series banned, and over 16,000 signatures were collected. The case gained enough media attention to be brought before the government of South Korea, and the series was deemed to be a "national crime".
Kids Station, the TV network that was to air the Hetalia anime, responded that there were never any plans to include a Korea character in the series. Despite the claim, the protests continued and the anime adaptation wound up pulled from Kids Station's lineup due to "various circumstances." It is believed that reported death threats (and a bomb threat) from the protesters may have played a part in those circumstances, though it is unknown exactly how many of the reports were of serious threats and how many were just trolls, as well as if the volume of threats were sensationalized by Japanese media sites (as netoyou from 2ch are known for heavy anti-Korean bias, as well as the site Sankaku Complex).
Though he appears briefly in the first ending theme, Korea is noticeably absent from the actual anime. A brief animation error in Episode 14, depicting him as part of the supermarket line from behind, shows evidence that he was originally animated into the series, but that Studio DEEN had to remove any references to him, presumably due to the protests. The part he played in the rest of the episode was completely removed, as was a brief cameo he would have had in Episode 01.
The Cast Commentary track on the third drama CD, Prologue 2, contains an appearance by the seiyū Kaoru Mizuhara, in the roundtable discussion of recording for the characters in both the drama CDs and anime. Mizuhara's section was thought to suggest that she was to voice Korea in the upcoming anime version, though a translation revealed that it was only a "what if" type of idea if she was cast in the anime, with a "Monaco" character being suggested first. As the animation in anime generally comes before the voice recording sessions, it is unknown if the anime production team ever got as far as casting Korea for the lines he may have originally had in Episode 14 (or the first episode).
In his unused anime design, Korea's dark hair was changed to a chestnut brown shade, and the "Korean spirit" in his haircurl was removed. The navy blue part of his hanbok was also changed to violet and his baji (the pants) became a lavender shade. Another detail in his turnaround, somewhat controversial to the protesters, were the "soulless eyes" that were present. Despite that, the chibi version of Korea in the ending theme has the correct style of eyes.
- An initial character design by Hidekaz Himaruya reveals that Korea was originally going to be a female character. In the early design, the female South Korea is depicted wearing a hanbok with long, flowing oversized sleeves. Her hair appears to be tied back into braids. Further liner notes in the special edition of Hetalia: Axis Powers volume 2 suggest that the female Korea was to be an aspiring idol who decided to travel to the United States. The design for the female Korea was later reused for the character Sena, the lead of another, short-lived webcomic by Himaruya, entitled MoeKan. Himaruya's initial design of a male South Korea had no haircurl, though some later preliminary designs presented a Korea that looked more melancholy than how he appeared in the series.
- Korea's birthday was originally listed as being May 1st, 1919. The date was later retconned to August 15th (no year given) by the time the published version of the manga was released. The retconned birthdate corresponds with the date for the Korean Liberation Day in 1945, as well as the date for the formation of South Korea in 1948.
- Although referred to as simply Korea most of the time, the nation name being listed as Daehan-minguk (Republic of Korea) on his original profile first indicated that he is meant to represent the southern half, which also tends to be referred to as simply Korea. Though he has only appeared in one modern-day strip, his flag confirms that he represents South Korea (though the original Korean flag was similar before the split). In 2007, Himaruya stated that he had a male North Korea character in mind that would be a musician who was fond of reading and dancing, as well as being more timid in personality than South Korea. However, it is unlikely that he will appear any time soon due to controversy, as well as a friend of Himaruya's (on whom he was based) having moved away. The unused female South Korea design is sometimes substituted by fans as a possible "North."
- While the nation of Korea has been around since 2333 BC, Korea is portrayed as seemingly the youngest of the Asian nations (though he claims they should call him their big brother). It is currently unknown if he represented ancient Korea and the Three Kingdoms in the past as well, or if a character (or characters) for them will exist.
- Shortly before the anime was set to air, it garnered quick controversy due to the presence of South Korea being made known. The South Korean government declared the series as very offensive, and internet protests sprung up over the depiction of the character. As noted in the "Appearances" section, the protesters cited Himaruya's incorrect way of drawing the male hanbok as one reason for the character being offensive, although they also cited his perverted behavior and actions as not being understandable, and his birthday (presumably the May 1st version) being incorrect. As well, Korea's praise for Japan in certain strips comes off offensive, as while Korea does not appear in the WWII-centric strips, both nations share ongoing disputes due to the colonization of Korea as part of the Japanese empire from 1910-1945.
- Though Korea has been cut from the anime series, he briefly appeared as a chibi in the ending song Marukaite Chikyuu.
- Korea's habit of claiming things originated from him most likely comes from the taegeuk on his flag. The taegeuk refers to the ultimate reality from which all things and values originate according to oriental philosophy. However, the stereotype of Korea claiming origin for various things is also one present in the Japanese media and a few other series, which only serves to further the national tensions between South Korea and Japan.
- Korea is briefly shown wearing rectangular-rimmed glasses when alone in his house during the Christmas 2011 event.
- Himaruya, Hidekaz (May 2007). "(cache) 【ジョルジュ長岡を心の底から愛でまくるサイト】 キタユメ。 【まゆ毛がステキ】". Archived from the original on November 22, 2007. http://megalodon.jp/2007-1122-0436-47/www.geocities.jp/himaruya/5gatu.htm. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- Himaruya, Hidekaz (2008). ヘタリア Axis Powers 2 [Hetalia: Axis Powers 2]. Gentosha. p. 21. ISBN 978-4-3448-1514-8.
- Himaruya, Hidekaz. "「クリスマス2011」 [Christmas 2011]". http://www.geocities.jp/himaruya/2011_12_3.html. Retrieved January 19, 2016.