‘Rude’ South Korea penguin invited to attend parliament

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Sept. 25 (UPI) — A South Korean penguin character with a reputation for making curt remarks and sneering at its boss has been requested to take part in a parliamentary audit, but attendance is optional, the lawmaker who extended the invitation says.

Pengsoo, a non-binary penguin that first appeared on public television channel EBS in April 2019, had been invited on Tuesday to take part in an audit of his company, South Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System, KBS reported. Pengsoo would be allowed to attend the hearing in character, according to the report.

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Hwang Bo Seung-hee, a lawmaker with the main opposition People Power Party, said Friday her invitation to Pengsoo still stands, but if the penguin is having second thoughts, it could leave the talking to Kim Myung-joong, chief executive of EBS, Asia Business reported.

“The point was never for myself to land at the center of attention, or harass Pengsoo,” Hwang said Friday, referring to the controversy around her invitation. “If Pengsoo does not want to come out, it doesn’t have to.”

On Tuesday, Hwang said the National Assembly is summoning Pengsoo to check whether the penguin was “not being exploited in the office environment.”

On EBS, Pengsoo is a 10-year-old trainee at the television network with dreams of being a global superstar. Last year, Pengsoo was voted South Korea’s “person of the year.”

The adventures of the seven-foot penguin also show him griping about his relationship with his boss, blaming Kim for mishaps in the office and referring to the EBS executive without honorifics.

Pengsoo’s brash style took South Korea by storm in 2019, and the penguin has been used in commercial marketing. Pengsoo has also appeared on talk shows and programs similar to other local celebrities.

According to lawmaker Jo Myung-hee’s office, Pengsoo has earned $8.6 million in revenue for EBS from product licenses and as an “advertising model.”

EBS has said the profits were distributed among the actor playing Pengsoo and Pengsoo’s agency but did not disclose details.

Nancy Mabel Walker, CEO of Google Korea, and Reginald Shawn Thompson of Netflix Services Korea, are also expected to testify at the first audit of the science and communication committee on Oct. 7.

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