Have you ever dreamed of a Pokemon becoming your pet? Or, have you ever wished to have a Teletubby as your friend? Most people may have dreamed of their favorite characters coming to life to greet them, as children usually take them for role models. Fortunately, for the children of today, their dreams have finally come true as four real buses in Seoul turned into the four main characters of the popular Korean animation, The Little Bus Tayo.
▲ A real-life Tayo bus driving to meet different children on the street. Photographed by Kim Na Young
The Little Bus Tayo is a Korean television cartoon made completely by computer graphics. It was first aired on August 23, 2010, on Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) and was produced by Iconix Entertainment. It was aimed at little kids aged approximately from 3 to 7. After its release, it soon gained great popularity and its third season is currently being broadcasted on EBS.
Its story takes place in a small “Seoul City” where many different lively transportation vehicles live happily together. The main character, Tayo, is a friendly looking blue bus who has just qualified to serve as an urban bus. He is also playful and has great ambition to become a great and kind bus. With his friends Rogi, Gani, and Lani, he goes through various adventures that eventually lead him to develop into a better bus.
The cute little character came to life as Im Jin Wook, representative of the Donga Transport Corporation, came up with the idea. Based on his idea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, along with Iconix Entertainment, decided to hold an event on Public Transportation Day in March and made four different buses in the shapes of Tayo, Rogi, Gani, and Lani.
▲ A comparison of Gani in reality and Gani in animation. Photographed by Kim Na Young and provided by www.tayobus.com
The event was an incredible success, for many, many young children wanted to see their favorite characters in real life. In fact, some decided to go and see Tayo and his friends instead of going to kindergarten. The event was also spread through the Internet, especially on social media.
As a result of its great popularity, the Seoul Metropolitan Government soon decided to extend the event until Chidren’s Day, which is May 5. They also decided to add 96 more buses to make a total of 100 Tayo buses. Many smartphone applications that inform people about the timetables of the Tayo buses were also made and spread. Tayo buses are still running today, in order to meet citizens’ demands.
It is not only the children who are welcoming Tayo buses. Many college students also greet them happily, as they make the current environment of Seoul more lively and cheerful. “On my way to school, near the Anam intersection, I have seen a Tayo bus,” says Lee Ye Chan (’13, College of Information and Communication). “After I saw it, I began to smile, as it seemed to have brought happiness to me. Thus, I think that it is a perfect example of creating the maximum out of the minimum resources.”
In addition, many Seoul residents also agreed that the Tayo buses should be kept running for a longer time. The Little Bus Tayo fanpage on Facebook recently held a survey asking people’s thoughts about the bus. Approximately 79.5 percent of the people answered that they believe that Tayo buses should be run continuously and also further be developed as a tourist attraction.
Many corporations have also started to use Tayo fever in order to attract customers. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), which was recently opened, held a program from May 3 to May 6 where kids could see and take pictures with Tayo for publicity and Lani. The Hyundai Department store in Chunho-dong also held an event where children could actually ride Gani and take pictures with Tayo from May 8 to May 11. Child Fund Korea also used Tayo for publicity to raise awareness on kidnapping and abduction.
As well as being extremely popular, it has also had a great impact on the Korean transportation system. The sensation has spread from Seoul to other cities of South Korea. For example, Gwangju, Seongnam, Suncheon and Andong all have recently decided to establish a certain number of Tayo buses in their cities.
In addition, the Tayo bus is leading a fever over Korean animation. For a long time, Korea has not really been known for cartoons, as the ones from Japan and the United States (U.S.) have always been more popular. However, as Tayo became a big hit, other characters designed in Korea are also earning the spotlights including the cute little catepillar Larva and Hongbi, the funky cat in Cloud Bread.
In fact, the Seoul Metropolitan Government had previously reviewed the idea of turning some subway trains into the character Larva. Unfortunately, such an idea did not actually pass due to safety reasons. Moreover, Chuncheon has recently decorated buses with stickers based on the various characters from Cloud Bread. They have been reported as successes.
▲ A boy happily holding a balloon in Tayo bus. Provided by mnews.joins.com