Pororo, South Korea's friendly blue cartoon penguin beloved by children worldwide, has become the subject of a paternity suit in the land of his birth.
Ocon Animation Studio said Wednesday it has brought a case in a local court against its partner Iconix Entertainment, accusing Iconixof taking credit for creating the animated character.
The adventures of Pororo, who sports aviator goggles and a flying helmet and dreams of being able to fly, have now been sold in 110 countries and spawned a tidal wave of merchandise in South Korea.
"Pororo's creator is Ocon, not Iconix," Ocon said in a statement.
"Iconix deprived Ocon and animators of recognition by marketing Pororo as its own creation and being the sole recipient of a government prize," it said.
Iconix denied Ocon's accusations.
"We have never made statements to imply we are the real creators. Pororo's co-production has always been made clear in media interviews," Choi Jong-Il, head of Iconix, told Yonhap news agency.
"It's true Ocon designed and digitalised it, but story and post-production were done by Iconix. It's absurd to claim who's the 'real creator' over co-produced works."
Pororo helped Iconix earn 27 billion won ($25 million) in sales last year.
The penguin is also owned by broadcaster EBS and internet service provider SK Broadband.