With the help of his giant, cuddly penguin, South Korea's Choi Jong Il lets kids dream big

Jae-Hyun Kim for TIME

Choi Jong Il, creator of Pororo

DREAMER There was a time when it was awfully hard for South Korean preschoolers to see Korean TV. The big winners on the local channels for the very young demographic were English-language shows like Teletubbies and Dora the Explorer--hits, sure, but imported ones. It took Choi Jong Il, 44, creator of Pororo the Little Penguin, to change all that.

Pororo first appeared on Korean TV in 2003, and kids immediately swooned. The lead character is a 3-D penguin who lives with six animal friends on a snowy island with no adults in sight. Unlike most kids' shows, which are vague about...

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