South Koreans both young and old have fallen in love with a new internet celebrity, Pengsoo the giant penguin.
In an origin story, the 10-year-old explained that it swam all the way from the Antarctic in search of fame in Korea after being inspired by groups like BTS and other animal characters.
New viewers may be left confused after noticing its expressionless eyes, intimidating height, and hoarse voice for the first time, but it doesn’t take long to fall for this giant, genderless, 10-year-old penguin’s charms.
Measuring at around 2.1 meters tall (6.89 feet), the BTS-loving giant penguin is far from the average fuzzy, cute animal character. It’s no surprise, despite its well-meaning intentions, Pengsoo has made young children cry on several occasions.
However, the penguin has garnered over two million subscribers on YouTube and been named South Korea’s “Person of the Year” despite not being a person.
While Pengsoo’s physical appearance may not be the initial source of appeal, millennials have connected with its messages for its refreshing take on today’s society.
The giant penguin, being merely 10 years old, maintains a childlike innocence in the way it speaks bluntly and unapologetically.
On its YouTube channel, Pengsoo has tackled serious issues such as workplace burnout and mental health through comedy. On occasion, it even bluntly addresses its superiors, including the CEO of Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) Kim Myung-Joong, as equals, or calls out bosses for their toxic work culture.
While the things it says could easily be criticized if they were coming from a human, Pengsoo is seen as a refreshing figure for saying the things many stressed-out millennials feel but cannot say out loud themselves.
Without conforming to South Korea’s societal norms and etiquette, such as the use of honorifics or modest and humble language, this rude penguin has risen to fame and is on its way to becoming the nation’s most loved figure.
Pengsoo always has a witty, sarcastic comeback to criticisms and shows endless love and support for tired office workers, young children, and the elderly. While the initial goal was to develop a character for children around the age of 10, this penguin has evolved into far more than that. The giant penguin has become a figure for adult YouTube viewers to turn to when seeking comfort and understanding.
According to the BBC
and The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, Pengsoo could be heading to our neck of the woods soon, as it could potentially go global in the near future.
Looks and first impressions can be misleading, and for Pengsoo the Giant Penguin, this is absolutely the case. Don’t let those giant eyes scare you off too soon, when it comes to Pengsoo, the more you see of it, the more adorable and lovable it becomes.