Squirrel and Hedgehog
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Squirrel and Hedgehog (Chosongul: 다람이와 고슴도치) is a North Korean animated television series produced by SEK Studio with funny animal characters aired on North Korean state television. DVDs are currently available in Korean dub for limited export.
It is well-known for a number of scenes with graphic violence, including deaths of characters by shooting or martial arts, and for its propaganda content.
Plot and details
The series follow a conflict between communities of anthropomorphic animals. These animals live in factions with Flower Hill, consisting of squirrels, hedgehogs and ducks as the protagonists, and the Weasel Army (mice and weasels)/Wolves' Den (wolves) as the antagonists. Episodes 1-26 fall under the first series while 27-32 fall under the second series.
The show has been discontinued since 2012 and there is currently no news of a continuation. The style has developed over the years and changes drastically at a few points throughout the series.
Internet critics commonly associate this series with propaganda with the citizens of Flower Hill being a metaphor for North Koreans and the enemy forces of weasels and wolves metaphors for Japan and the United States respectively. However, this is never directly stated in the series and the staff at SEK Studios have repeatedly said that this representation is not true. They emphasize that the series is meant to teach love, friendship and patriotism to children.
The first season follows Geumsaegi and Juldarami, two Flower Hill squirrels that infiltrate the ranks of the weasels and mice to act as a secret agent by pretending to be field mice. They initially wear white masks as a disguise, but by episode 5 it becomes a permanent part of the squirrel design.
Episode 1 is an early old-style pilot episode with a number of differences both in style and plot. The episode is about Squirrel Village relying on Uncle Bear who vows to protect Flower Hill from the weasels and mice. However, when Bear doesn't show up to protect them when the weasels and mice invade due to drinking poisoned liquor given to him by the weasels, the squirrels, hedgehogs and ducks unite to form one army and defend their home. This is the foundation of the series and introduces some characters that will remain prominent as the series progresses.
Episodes 2 and 3 focus primarily on developing a squirrel named Juldarami who, in episode one, was initially held captive by the weasels and saved by the Wild Ducks from an execution site. Juldarami acts and disguises as one of the field mice to get information from Commander Weasel. He fights alongside a hedgehog named Goseumdochi, and together they infiltrate the Weasel Base to gather information on special weapons they're keeping hidden. Episode 4 then introduces who will remain the main protagonist of the series: Geumsaegi. He goes together with Juldarami to "save" the commander of Mt. Rock and earn his trust so they can spy among their ranks. Geumsaegi is the one who goes to General Commander disguised as the liaison officer from Mt. Rock and, after saving the commander's life from a bomb placed in the magazine by the Mt. Rock commander, is appointed as Guard Commander.
Episode 5 implies that some time has passed in the show and Geumsaegi beginning his ascend among their ranks from Guard Commander. Later on, we learn that Juldarami is now the commander of a regiment of the secret "Mole Gun" from episodes 2 and 3. There's a major style change in this episode and stays primarily the same into 26 while improving along the way. A lot commences in this block of episodes and really formulates the plot and lore.
The new series, produced probably from the 2000's, show an improved style of animation and use of CGI. It first is animated in ToonBoom and switches to Flash by episode 29.
After the defeat of the weasel army, the characters have to face the new threat of the wolves, led by Commander Seungnyangi (Commander Wolf), as remnants of weasels and mice keep making trouble. Observing the destruction left over from the Toadstool bombs being turned on the Weasel Army, the wolves make it their mission to capture someone who knows the underground of Flower Hill well to obtain information.
Since the defeat of the weasels, Flower Hill has been enjoying peace, but it doesn't last long when Mulmangcho shows up and steals the information of Flower Hill's underground from Dr. Mole. Juldarami and Geumsaegi come to Dr. Mole and Bamsaegi's (Geumsaegi's little brother) rescue, but Juldarami is shot and wounded taking a bullet for Bamsaegi. Geumsaegi offers to go undercover as Special Aide and try to get among the Wolf Army's ranks, similarly to series 1 with the weasels, to save his friends and baffle their scheme.
- Geumsaegi (금색이 / 금빛다람이) - "Golden" or "Golden squirrel"
- Juldarami (줄다람이) - "Striped squirrel"
- Bamsaegi (밤색이) - "Brown"
- Mulmangcho (물망초) - "Myosotis" (name of flower)
- Oegwipari (외귀파리) - "One ear"
- Geumsaegi(금색이, code name "Lily Bell", "Bang-ul-kkot"): Is the main character of the series. He's a squirrel who spies on the weasels and mice, pretending to defect from Flower Hill. During the show, he has great determination and intelligence and incredible skills in martial arts and marksmanship. He is also shown to have on-the-spot deduction skills, able to play along with any plot devised by the enemy (usually Mulmangcho) and turn it against them.
- Juldarami(줄다람이, code name "Lily Bell", "Bang-ul-kkot"): Often acting as partner and support character for Geumsaegi. He's a squirrel with a pair of stripes on his tail, and during the adventures, sometimes shows even more hardness then Geumsaegi in dealing with enemies. He is shown to have enormous determination and physical power, though it often makes him hot headed and rash. When Bamsaegi is captured by Mulmangcho, Juldarami disregards his own safety (and quite frankly that of Bamsaegi) to dash forward, shooting the enemy. His actions result in him getting shot.
- Bamsaegi(밤색이): little brother of Geumsaegi. A new character of the second series. After the defeat of the weasel army, he hopes that the new peace will allow him to live a civilian life, but danger is always lurking.
- Scout Goseumdochi(고슴도치 정찰병): In early series one, he fights alongside Geumsaegi. He sacrifices himself to destroy the weasel army's secret ice cannons which were intended to be used on Flower Hill.
- Undochi(은도치): a new character in series two. He is the little brother of Scout Goseumdochi.
- Commander Darami "Squirrel"(다람이 부대장) and Commander Goseumdochi "Hedgehog"(고슴도치 부대장): the head commanders of Flower Hill.
- Dr. Mole(두더지 박사): a new character in series two. He studies the underground of Flower Hill.
- General Commander(족제비 대장,"Commander Weasel"): the head of the Weasel Army. He is depicted as a very cunning and strategic person, but he also trusts somewhat easily. He attempts to capture Flower Hill to make them his slaves, but his plan is foiled in the end by Geumsaegi and Flower Hill. In episode 26, he is forced to turn the trajectory of the "Toadstool bombs" on his own army and is exploded in the air by a punctured flamethrower.
- Mulmangcho(물망초, "Forget-Me-Not"): Of all the villains in the series, he's the most resistant. Mulmangcho is a mouse who shows a certain degree of intelligence, unlike of his species. During the whole first series he's the only one to ever suspect of Geumsaegi and try to demonstrate the true identity of the Flower Hill agent. Although the weasel army is destroyed in the end, he survives to fight another day. During an action against Geumsaegi, he lost his tail and he's driven by revenge. He sometimes demonstrates good shooting abilities and martial arts (even if usually it's never enough to defeat the Flower Hills agents), but more often he prefers to flee. He has very poor eyesight and it sometimes serves as a hindrance to him. After the defeat of the Weasels army he's shown intents to carry on a personal vendetta against Geumsaegi, possibly with little concern for the general success of his "allied" wolves and weasels (who spent most of their time assuming Mulmangcho was Flower's Hill spy, rather then Geumsaegi).
- Oegwipari(외귀팔이, "One Ear"): is the brother of Mulmangcho. He follows well on the outside, but holds a lot of resentment.
- Mulsajo(물사조): a follower of Mulmangcho. In episode 14, he was exploded by a grenade in the Unchon River.
- Black Weasel(검은 족제비): the brother of the one-eyed scout commander.
- White Weasel(흰 족제비 박사): Commander of the Sturgeon Base. He is believed to be killed by poisonous gas in episode 23, but returns in series two. The poisonous gas had done an obvious number on his health, but he now serves as a commander of an unspecified isle.
- Commander Seungnyangi "Wolf"(승냥이 대장, Fanname "Captain Keoteo"): the leader of the new antagonist faction introduced in the second series: the wolf army. His soldiers uniforms and hats resemble '50s years American ones. He displayed a ruthless behavior toward his enemies and lack of sympathy for his subordinates.
- Officer Yeou "Fox"(여우 장교, Fanname "Lt. Fox Vixen"): an assistant to Commander Seungnyangi.
- Assistant Weasel(족제비 보좌관): another assistant to Commander Seungnyangi. He is the brother of the dead General Commander. In episode 6, he disguises as his brother to go to the Flower Hill festival in his place in accordance with a scheme to stage an assassination to blame Flower Hill.
- Geumsaegi (episode 5~): Won Jeong Suk
- Juldarami (episode 19~): Lim Bok Hee
- Oegwipari, Goseumdochi: Gwon Nyeong Ju
- Mulmangcho, Juldarami (episode 10~13, 17): Kim Tae Lyeon
- Captain Weasel, Dr. White Weasel: Kim Dae Hong
- Geumsaegi (episode 27~31), Assistant Crocodile: Won Jeong Suk
- Geumsaegi (episode 32), Commander Goseumdochi: Heo Gyeong Hee
- Juldarami, Mulmangcho, Commander Goseumdochi (episode 28): Lim Bok Hee
- Bamsaegi, Lt. Vixen: Lim Un Young
- Mulori, Commander Darami: Oh Lyu Gyeong
- Undochi : Choe Hyeon Ha
- Oegwipari: Lee Eun Ju
- Commander Wolf: Kim Yeong Cheol
- Dr. Mole, Dr. White Weasel: Kim Dae Hong
- Assistant Weasel: Song Yeong Cheol
The SEK Studios, the North Korean studios that produced this series, has also produced a number of stand-alone short cartoons with funny animal characters. Some of them are part of a large series named the Clever Racoon Dog. Unlike "Squirrel and Hedgehog," they're focused primarily on road safety education, science, sport, summer volunteer work etc.
This series was also dubbed into English by Mondo TV S.p.A as Brave Soldier.