9 Popular Korean Cartoons for Both Kids and Grown-Ups
Are you looking to add a little color and magic to learning Korean?
Look no further than Korean cartoons!
Aside from being entertaining, they’re packed with essential Korean vocabulary, expressions and conversations that’ll do wonders for picking up the language.
Here’s a list of must-watch Korean cartoons and animations—Korean kids love them, but a lot of them can be enjoyed by adult learners too.
- 1. Hello Jadoo (안녕자두야)
- 2. Tayo the Little Bus (꼬마버스 타요)
- 3. Pororo the Little Penguin (뽀롱뽀롱 뽀로로)
- 4. Pinkfong (핑크퐁)
- 5. Pucca (뿌까)
- 6. Canimals (캐니멀)
- 7. Peppa Pig (페파피그)
- 8. Robocar Poli (로보카 폴리)
- 9. Tobots (변신자동차 또봇)
- Where to Watch Korean Cartoons
- Why Learn Korean with Cartoons?
1. Hello Jadoo (안녕자두야)
“Hello Jadoo” started out as a Korean comic or manhwa, then it got turned into an animated series that remains a classic until today. It’s a heartwarming, realistic series that’s based on the writer’s childhood in Korea in the 1990s.
Jadoo is a fifth-grader who’s playful and somewhat mischievous. Her antics include sometimes trying to escape doing chores at home and coming up with creative techniques for studying for important exams.
The series does a good job of depicting Korean family dynamics along with struggles faced by kids like academic pressure, bullying and self-confidence issues.
2. Tayo the Little Bus (꼬마버스 타요)
“Tayo the Little Bus” is all about Tayo, a blue bus that’s new on the road, and his adventures as he navigates through the roads of a bustling city. He’s often with his friends, who are all four-wheelers—like colorful buses, taxis, trucks and construction vehicles.
The episodes feature Tayo exploring new parts of the city, managing traffic and doing his job. For example, he sometimes has to deal with passengers who are in a bad mood or who don’t follow the rules. The series is actually pretty educational too because it teaches kids about traffic rules and how different vehicles work.
3. Pororo the Little Penguin (뽀롱뽀롱 뽀로로)
If you don’t know about “Pororo the Little Penguin,” you’re in for a treat. Developed by Iconix Entertainment, the company behind “Tayo the Little Bus,” it follows the adventures of Pororo, an adorable penguin and his group of friends who live in the snowy village of Porong Porong Forest.
Together, they work to overcome challenges and learn practical and moral lessons in each episode. The episodes are rich in insights about the Korean language and culture. You’ll learn 반말 (informal speech) along with numerous useful everyday expressions and questions.
4. Pinkfong (핑크퐁)
Pinkfong is a Korean brand with more than 20,000 songs and stories for kids—several of which are uploaded on YouTube. The main character is a cheerful, curious little fox with a passion for singing and dancing.
Their top videos are colorful dance-along songs with repetitive yet catchy tunes, which makes them great for learning Korean. In fact, Pinkfong came up with the viral “Baby Shark” song!
They also have tons of animated stories based on classic fairy tales and children’s stories (with a twist).
5. Pucca (뿌까)
Pucca is another iconic Korean character who reached massive popularity in the 2000s—there’s even a Pucca-themed café in Seoul! Although “Pucca” is an older cartoon compared to the others in the list, it’s still very much well-loved.
In the cartoon, Pucca is a young girl who’s deeply in love with a ninja named Garu. She goes to great lengths to get Garu’s attention and steal kisses from him, even though he’s committed to living a life of silence and serious ninja training. This leads to comedic scenes, especially since Garu often ends up needing Pucca’s help, whether with ninja rivals or villains.
6. Canimals (캐니멀)
If you’re an animal lover looking for a whimsical cartoon, “Canimals” will become your absolute favorite cartoon. It was developed by VOOZ, which is also behind “Pucca.”
The series is about a group of friendly, ethereal little creatures shaped like a can (hence the name “Canimals”). Each has its own distinct personality, but all are equally curious.
Ato, the hero, is a happy-go-lucky Beagle. Oz, his friend, is a mischievous cat with a strong sense of adventure. Mimi is a bossy little dog. Together and with all of their friends, they learn about the world and express their observations through their different points of view.
7. Peppa Pig (페파피그)
Peppa Pig is a British series, but it has quite an audience in Korea, with its own merchandise like toys, books and plushies. It also has a Korean dubbed version, making it a common choice for both language learners and kids.
You’ll get to know Peppa, a spirited and slightly bossy little pig who’s always curious, along with her family. The episodes are short and sweet, usually just around five minutes long, with straightforward plots. They also work well for language learning because they focus on relatable everyday situations, like going to school, visiting grandparents, playing with friends and celebrating birthdays.
8. Robocar Poli (로보카 폴리)
Mainly for preschool kids, Robocar Poli is a cartoon that revolves around a team of emergency vehicles that rescue and help citizens in every episode.
Poli is the leader of the rescue team, and he’s a blue-and-white police car that can transform into a robot. Other rescue team members include a fire truck, ambulance and helicopter, each with their own personality.
Kids can learn a lot from this series because it covers different situations like traffic accidents, how to deal with dangerous strangers and injured animals. Just from watching, they’ll pick up tips on fire safety, first aid and other important safety measures!
9. Tobots (변신자동차 또봇)
Similar to the “Transformers” series but meant for a younger audience, Tobot revolves around kids with robotic cars that can change into huge robots. That’s where the title comes from—their cars are known as Tobots.
The kids discover these robots in a secret lab, and they’re tasked with helping protect their city. Each Tobot mirrors the personality of their child partner, so you can actually see the Tobots grow and develop alongside the kids.
Together, they engage in battles against all sorts of villains who want to attack their city, with plenty of life lessons and light-hearted scenes along the way.
Where to Watch Korean Cartoons
Here are three websites that can help you learn Korean with cartoons:
YouTube features an extensive selection of Korean cartoons—you just have to know what to look for!
Your best bet is to type the name of the cartoon you’re looking for in Hangul in the YouTube search bar.
What’s terrific about YouTube is how accessible it is, especially for beginners and low-intermediate learners. After all, you can stream an unlimited variety of videos, one after the other. When you “like” videos or add them to personalized playlists, YouTube will start suggesting similar cartoons and shows you might enjoy.
YouTube might be an awesome viewing platform, but the downside is you never know what language level you’re getting yourself into with a video, plus the automatically generated subtitles are notoriously inaccurate.
FluentU is a language program that addresses these issues, and it includes plenty of animated shorts and snippets of cartoons.
Here's a quick look at the variety of video choices available to you:
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
Don't stop there, though. You can use FluentU’s unique quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions.
FluentU even tracks your progress and remembers all the words you've learned, making for a 100% personalized experience.
Review sessions use video context to help embed the words in your memory. The best part? You can access the full FluentU video library with a free trial!
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
Another major source of Korean cartoons would be Netflix. The key is to log into Netflix Kids instead of your usual account! This lets you view only children’s shows, and you can even check out this page for cartoons specifically made in Korea.
Netflix also gives you the option to browse shows by language and hone in quickly on cartoons with Korean as the original language.
If you want to watch foreign cartoons in Korean, that’s doable too. You can check out cartoons dubbed in Korean or with Korean subtitles. Most cartoons on Netflix have subtitles in different languages, so chances are the most popular cartoons are equipped with Korean subtitles.
Why Learn Korean with Cartoons?
Whether you’re learning Korean yourself or you want your kid to learn Korean, cartoons are a great language learning material:
- They’re fun. Let’s be honest: who wouldn’t want to learn Korean with cartoons? They’re incredibly cute and endearing and have the perfect combination of vibrant colors, friendly characters, dynamic storylines and Korean flavor.
- They’re quintessentially Korean. As in many regions, cartoons are a key component of Korean culture and many Koreans grow up watching and enjoying them. Cartoons often serve as a shared reference point for Korean people, so watching them will give you some common ground with native speakers.
- They’re ideal for a regular study routine. Cartoon episodes are generally short, making them easy to add to a regular study plan. If you missed parts of the story, you can re-watch and review without spending tons of extra time.
- They’re packed with useful vocabulary. The wide variety of cartoons means that any learner, from beginner to advanced, can find a show that’s right for him or her. As you’ll see below, you can use Korean cartoons to explore everything from cooking terminology to technology vocabulary to everyday conversational skills.
So, are you ready to start learning Korean with cartoons? We bet you are! We can’t wait for you to start streaming these iconic Korean animations and propel your Korean studies to the next level. Enjoy!