“Mascot Mania!” is a series which features some of the “mascots” I’ve seen in Korea. Unlike in the United States, mascots in Korea are not limited to schools and sports teams. You’ll find mascots/characters for just about everything in Korea, from products, organizations and even cities! Clearly, “cuteness” is a cultural value that reigns supreme in this country~~
While Americans may be used to the idea of city specific slogans (e.g. I went to high school in Placentia, “A Pleasant Place to Live”), and state nicknames (I hail from California, “the Golden State”), Koreans take it a step further with city mascots/characters.
Currently, I live in Icheon, in Gyeonggi province. This semi-rural city is about an hour south east of Seoul, and is most famous for its historic role as a major producer of ceramics. In the picture below, you can see how the “I” “C” and “H” in “Icheon” have been written to mimic the classic shape of a Korean ceramic vase.
Actually, Icheon is home to three other major industries besides ceramics. These include rice (the soil here must be really good, be it for farming or for ceramics), hot water springs, and peaches. As you can see below, these industries are personified by these adorable little mascots! From the top left, going clockwise, you can see a character representing the hot water springs, another character with a peach head, a character with a ceramic vase head, and lastly, a character with a little brown rice grain head.
Believe it or not, I actually took all of these pictures at a construction site! You know how there’s usually a huge, temporary wall around a construction site? The ones I’ve seen in the US are pretty ugly, either covered with graffiti or spray-painted “Post No Bills” warnings. But not in Korea! Here, they often feature the city’s slogan and mascots. There is a new building going up in my neighborhood, and I came across these while walking my dogs.
I find these little guys to be so adorable! And they are peppered through the city, whether on construction site fences, or even painted onto the side of apartment buildings~~ Can you imagine a cute little mascot/character for your own city?