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Rep. Of Korea: Cartoon Hero Becomes UNHCR Envoy

Republic of Korea: cartoon hero becomes goodwill envoy for UN refugee agency

25 July 2008 - Robot Taekwon V, an iconic martial arts cartoon hero as famous in the Republic of Korea as Superman is in the West, has signed on as the United Nations refugee agency's Goodwill Envoy in the Asian nation.

"We thought that being associated with this character, who is extremely popular with all age groups and both sexes, would give us huge potential for recognition in the Republic of Korea, where we are still largely unknown," said Janice Lyn Marshall, country representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), after the signing ceremony at Robot Taekwon V's 32nd birthday party on Thursday.

"It's a first for UNHCR to join forces with an animated character in this way," she added. For the next year, the character, which uses the martial art Taekwondo to protect the weak, will collaborate with UNHCR on events such as World Refugee Day and UN Day. His image will also be used on fund-raising and promotional materials.

Robot Taekwon V is seen as a guardian figure saving the Republic of Korea - a country that has been invaded by foreign countries numerous times in its history - from danger. "What the character is fighting for is akin to what the United Nations stands for - world peace and stopping those who would try to destroy it," Ms. Marshall said.

On UNHCR's Korean-language website (www.unhcr.or.kr) the robot himself explained his motivation for working with the agency.

"For the last 30 years I have protected Korean families and children from evil and guarded their hope and courage," he said in an interview. "Now I have to go beyond Korea and into the world and try my best to help the children not to lose hope, but to realize their dreams."

Robot Taekwon V said he would remind Koreans that many of them were displaced during the Korean War in the early 1950s.

"I'm also going to inform Koreans about refugee situations around the world, together with the UNHCR representation in Korea," the robot said in the interview. "I know that Koreans are warm-hearted - so I'm sure they will have empathy."

In a related development, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today also began making use of animated characters - this time to highlight issues around doping in sport.

At the website www.unesco.org/shs visitors can follow the adventures of Rattus Holmes and Felis Watson in a story published by UNESCO with EDGE G3 Ltd.

Entitled "The Case of the Spoilsports," the comic strip, inspired by the famous detective stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, will trace how twin athletes react differently to the pressures of competitive sport.

One gives in immediately to the pressure put on him by his trainer and teammates while the other athlete suffers as a result of the use of performance enhancing drugs by his competitors. From one sports event to the next, the plot leads the audience to the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

ENDS

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