“Three, two, one,” after the countdown, a penguin character, Pengsu rang the Jaya Bell to mark the beginning of the New Year. Pengsu is a penguin character of the Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) program's <Giant Peng TV>. Every year, on January 1 in Bosingak, the Jaya bell rings 3 times to mark the start of the New Year. The fact that Pengsu participated in such a big event should make people realize popular Pengsu has become.
Before the appearance of Pengsu, EBS also had a popular penguin character named Pororo, who represented EBS. Unlike Pororo, Pengsu is targeted at adults and doing the program titled "Giant PengTV" on EBS started from 2019. At first, the character was set up for children, so the first episode was “Pengsu was moved to an elementary school in Seoul”. The YouTube channel operated together, with only 37 subscribers until May. However, in one night, Pengsu’s popularity rapidly rose.
Other programs for children usually teach etiquettes or show idealistic views. However, Pengsu’s program was out of such model images. Also, Pengsu serves as a likable anti-heroic behavior, such as openly expressing jealousy for others, not telling to live an exemplary life. Therefore, this led to its popularity among adults, and the character is now called President Pororo of adults. As the popularity of the public rose, Pengsu also appeared on various programs or events such as MBC's My Little Television V2, bell-ringing ceremony on New Year and was the winner of the Golden Disk Awards. As far as that goes, Peng Su's Kakao Talk emoticon was launched on November 13, 2019, and the number of subscribers of YouTube channels exceeded 1 million around November 27, 2019. It was also ranked first in the 2019 Person of the Year broadcasting and entertainment field by Incruit, which is a survey organization on December 4.
Giving healing to the audience
Many viewers are giving feedback on EBS sites. One commenter said, "I was exhausted before, but after watching Pengsu I could be healed." and "I am encouraged while watching Pengsu, who is not swayed by social prejudice and standards." EBS's Pengsu television crew said Pengsu is a penguin, who loves itself as it is. Also, Pengsu is a character, who encourages people to be themselves and live their lives as they are. Sin-hyi Kim, one of the commentators and the fan of Pengsu said that she was encouraged by Pengsu’s words during the test- taker year. Even Park Jung-min, an actor confessed that he was into EBS trainee Pengsu on MBC's entertainment. He said, “It is the first time for me having a huge interest in something. Pengsu said what I needed to hear. Instead of saying cheer up, Pengsu said “I love you”". He also mentioned that when he sees Pengsu’s program he is getting healed from it. It seems to have made Pengsu more popular as people could heal themselves while being entertained.
"You cannot do all things perfectly. Do not be so upset when you are not good at one things There must be something you are good at. You just need to do that better," are some of the penguin’s famous words of encouragement. Pengsu’s words give people a lot of sympathy. Also, Pengsu said that age, being adulthood, being children does not matter. All you have to do is be understanding, considerate and respectful. A president of corporations has to be like a friend to make the company work. Like those, Pengsu makes bold remarks, acts and satirizes, criticizes society's absurd hierarchical order and unfairness.
Disrupting gender stereotypes.
With Pengsu becoming popular every day, people started wondering and guessing about its gender. However, Pengsu never mentioned its gender to the public, so nobody knows about its gender. On the woman times radio (여성시대), Pengsu even did not give a clear answer to the question, “Do you have a girlfriend at the South Pole?” Moreover, Pengsu wore a white dress at MBC Entertainment Awards on December 29, 2019.One day, on <Pengsu TV> people could see Pengsu wearing makeup. However, Pengsu’s voice sounded masculine. With those confusing characteristics, people cannot even guess its gender through Pengsu’s acting or accessories.
The women's newspaper (여성신문) asked Lee Seul-yeh, the Program director (PD) of EBS why Peng Su's gender is not made clear. A real penguin’s gender is difficult to determine. "The point of the content is to meet different people at different sites, and I did not think it mattered whether Pengsu is a woman or a man," said Lee Suel-yeh. Producers also said that when they produce content, they share and plan sexual cognitive sensitivities, so they did not want to show stereotypes. By showing various aspects without deciding on Pengsu's gender, Pengsu's TV character showed that it wanted to dissolve the natural distinction between the woman and the man in the media.
Pengsu may not have just gained popularity by entertaining people in their daily lives. Pengsu criticized the problems in our society by suggesting a company president's ideal attitude toward employees. It also has an aim to correct social prejudices like gender discrimination. In this confusing society, a harsh reality-check for society might gain popularity of Pengsu. Like the program Pengsu brings a message of healing to people in their daily lives and will be an opportunity to create a more tolerant world by breaking stereotypes, including those of fixed perceptions related to gender.