Squirrel and Hedgehog (다람이와 고슴도치) is a North Korean cartoon developed by SEK. Widely considered to be political and militant propaganda, the show has nonetheless gained a massive following not only in it's native North Korea, but outside of the country as well.
The story revolves around the titled Squirrels and Hedgehogs of Flower Hill as they defend their home from various would-be invaders, thought to be inspired by real nations who have at some point taken arms against North Korea.
The show's influence can be seen in it's various merchandising, it's songs sung in concert by children, it's characters used as mascots for various products. It has also produced a spin off Manhwa and even video games.
SEK has prided itself on stating that Squirrel and Hedgehog was always intended to instill in children a sense of love for their home country and the military defending it, and inspire loyalty and patriotism.
In the late 2000s, Italian company Mondo TV acquired the rights to a localization and developed "Brave Soldiers", a show that uses footage and very base elements of it's source material to become a show of it's own. Brave Soldiers is generally not as fondly looked upon by fans of the original.
Episodes 1 through to 24 where animated by hand using cels and traditional hand-drawn animation techniques.
When a small village of Squirrels in the nation of Flower Hill come under attack, they are forced to join forces with their neighbouring Hedgehogs and Ducks and defend their land. Spies Juldarami and Geumsaegi are sent to integrate into enemy territory and uncover various plans, weapons of mass destruction and put their lives on the line to save their country.
Having defeated the Weasels and come home at last, Flower Hill is met with a new threat as Wolves threaten to invade. Their strength and weapons terrifying to behold, Geumsaegi must once again infiltrate the enemy in order to keep them from his beloved Flower Hill.
Squirrel and Hedgehog was shown and rebroadcast on Chosun Central TV up until 2013 when the show abruptly ceased production under a "temporary" suspension. At the time of this writing the suspension has not yet complete bringing many to wonder if Squirrel and Hedgehog has been cancelled.
However, articles in 2018 show the existence of an Android game available in North Korea, Brave Scout which has people wondering if this is marketing to build up hype for the end of the hiatus, or simply cashing in on nostalgia.
That being said, Squirrel and Hedgehog's production has been full of various hiatuses and suspensions lasting years at a time for varying reasons.
Episodes 1-4 where made and broadcast between 1977 to 1982.
Episodes 5-14 released in the 1990's only to have severe issues and delays caused by The March of Suffering and the ensuing aftermath.
Production resumed more smoothly commencing from episode 15 onwards from the early to mid 2000s.
Season 2 began with Operation Noose in late 2006 with a brand new animation style. , however it would be two years before the next two episodes in 2008 would appear and another two years for another in late 2010.
The final three episodes produced thus far came out on a yearly basis until 2012 , thereafter production entered hiatus in 2013.
The show is considered a classic in North Korea, as beloved by many natives as Disney is to a Western audience.
It is considered by many as a staple in young children's entertainment to the point where very young children have been filmed singing the various songs from the show, re-enacting episodes as school plays and murals being painted in classrooms.
The show has sold a number of toys, articles of clothing and accessories, backpacks and stationary.
Many adults reportedly look back fondly on episodes of the series, which is unsurprising given the length and popularity on the show.
It is uncertain when footage of the show leaked to western audiences, but in the early to mid 2010's, semi-translated videos began to crop up on youtube, which piqued a morbid curiosity at the idea of a propaganda cartoon depicting cute, lovable characters struggling in grisly combat.
Others, particularly those in the USA, were attracted by the Wolves who seemed to be caricatures of American military and found the portrayal to be unintentionally flattering.
The show appears to be particularly popular with English and Russian speaking audiences, though efforts have and are being made to offer faithful translations to those speaking alternate dialects.
The show is often cited as evidence of brainwashing in North Korea, critics often pointing out its gruesome violence and presumed depiction of other nations as the enemy as evidence that it is training children to hate it's neighbouring countries.
Whilst SEK have denied the suggestion that characters are based on nationalities, the Manwha makes a more implicit connection; the initials "USA" imprinted on the Wolves' helmets being one example.
Others controversies include the supposed homoerotic tendencies. As the male characters are often shown embracing and dancing together, some have claimed that the show is pushing a homosexual agenda. Given the history of LGBT rights in North Korea, the implication of homosexuality perceived by the western audience is likely unintentional.
Regardless, "Brave Soldiers" averted the issue by making occasionally changing the identities of the character models and their genders and / or relation.
Unknown (episode 1, 2~4)
Won Jeong-Suk (episode 5~31)
Heo Gyeong-Hee (episode 32)
Unknown (episode 4)
Kim Tae-Lyeon (episode 10~13, 17)
Won Jeong-Suk (episode 14, 15)
Lim Bok-Hee (episode 19~)
Unknown (episode 1~4)
Unknown (episode 7~11)
Kim Tae-Lyeon (episode 6, 12~26)
Won Jeong-Suk (episode 27)
Lim Bok-Hee (episode 28~)
Gwon Nyeong-Ju (episode 8~26)
Lee Eun-Ju (episode 27)
Unknown (episode 27, 28)
Kim Yeong-Cheol (episode 31~)
Kim Dae-Hong (episode 27)
Song Yeong-Cheol (episode 31~)
List of Episodes
|No.||Title Card||English Title||Original Title||Director||Writer||Music||Original Air Date|
|S01 E01||The Lesson for Squirrel||다람이가 찾은 교훈||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Jun-Ok, Kim Myeong-Hee||1977|
|S01 E02||In the Den of Weasels||족제비네 소굴에서||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Myeong-Hee||1978-1979|
|S01 E03||The Revenge Battle of the Squirrel||다람이의 복수전||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Myeong-Hee||1980-1981|
|S01 E04||The Scout, Geumsaegdarami||정찰병 금색다람이||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Jun-Ok||Kim Myeong-Hee||1982-1983|
|S01 E05||The Continued Battle||끝나지 않은 싸움||Kim Gwang-Seong||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Baek In-Seong||February 8, 1997|
|S01 E06||A Message Sent by Geumsaegi||금색이가 날린 전파||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Han Sang-Cheol||September 29, 1997|
|S01 E07||The Secret of Wolfspider Cave||독거미굴의 비밀||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||December 13, 1997|
|S01 E08||Envoy to Mt. Rock||돌산으로 날아간 특사||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||March 21, 1998|
|S01 E09||The Great Service of Goseumdochi||고슴도치의 위훈||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||June 12, 1998|
|S01 E10||A Battle at Mt. Rock||돌산에서의 결전||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||September 1, 1998|
|S01 E11||Black Key||검은 열쇠||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||October 30, 1998|
|S01 E12||A Dangerous Enemy||위험한 적수||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||December 23, 1998|
|S01 E13||Secret Document||비밀문건||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||February 2, 1999|
|S01 E14||A Moment in the Enemy Rear||적후에서의 한순간||Kim Gwang-Seong||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||June 9, 1999|
|S01 E15||Operation White Snow||흰눈작전||Kim Gwang-Seong, Do Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||July 3, 1999|
|S01 E16||Operation White Snow Continues||흰눈작전은 계속 된다||Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||September 18, 1999|
|S01 E17||"Pangulggot" Reports||"방울꽃"은 보고한다||Do Cheol, Kim Young-Cheol||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||September 20, 2000|
|S01 E18||Through the Waves||파도를 헤치고||Oh Sin-Hyeok||Kim Hwa-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||November 30, 2000|
|S01 E19||A Hideous Plot||무서운 음모||Kim Young-Cheol, Yun Young-Gil||Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||April 1, 2001|
|S01 E20||An Explosion At Night||밤하늘에 울린 폭음||Kim Young-Cheol, Lee Seok-Hoon||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||November 25, 2001|
|S01 E21||The Enemies are Alive||원쑤는 살아있다||Oh Sin-Hyeok||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||June 25, 2002|
|S01 E22||Searching For the Jewel Necklace||보석목걸이를 찾아서||Yun Young-Gil||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||December 24, 2002|
|S01 E23||At the "Sturgeon" Base||철갑상어 기지에서||Yun Young-Gil||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||May 5, 2003|
|S01 E24||Against The Danger||위험을 맞받아||Oh Sin-Hyeok, Gye Hun||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||July 10, 2003|
|S01 E25||Operation Thunder||벼락작전||Yun Young-Gil||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||November 28, 2004|
|S01 E26||Pangulggot in Flames||불길속의 방울꽃||Oh Sin-Hyeok||Kim Hwa-Seong, Lee Yeong-Chun||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||January 2, 2005|
|27 S02 E01||Operation "Noose"||"올가미" 작전||Oh Sin-Hyeok||Choe In-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||December 27, 2006|
|28 S02 E02||The Secret Document of Dr. Dudeoji||두더지 박사의 비밀문건||Oh Sin-Hyeok||Kim Hwa-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||January 1, 2008|
|29 S02 E03||In the Den of Huinjogjebi||흰 족제비 소굴에서||Oh Sin-Hyeok||Kim Hwa-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||August 25, 2008|
|30 S02 E04||Against the Enemies||원쑤를 맞받아||Lee Cheol||Choe In-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||October 17, 2010|
|31 S02 E05||To the Den of the Wolf Unit||승냥이 소굴에로||Lee Cheol||Choe In-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Ham Cheol||February 17, 2011|
|32 S02 E06||Enemies are Vicious||원쑤는 간악하다||Lee Cheol||Choe In-Seong||Kim Myeong-Hee, Jeong Byeong-Cheol||June 6, 2012|