Animation in North Korea began in 1948 and has been a growing industry since. Before the Korean War, the Pyongyang animation study opened in 1948. In the same year, the north region of the parallel 38th became a communist republic. From 1948 until the 1980s, Pyongyang animation studio produced more than two hundred films.
Aside from local productions, the SEK Studio (North Korea's primary animation producer) has been providing animation services for foreign clients in Italy, Spain, France, China, Russia, Japan and indirectly for the United States. In 2003, there were 1500 artists working in SEK, becoming one of the largest animation studios in the world.
Since the early years, animation has been seen as a propaganda tool in North Korea and state-supported. Even it has been reported that Kim Jong-il was a fan of Daffy Duck. The state-owned studio has worked in local productions and collaborated with foreign studios.
In September 1957, the Korean April 26 Animation Studio (조선4·26만화영화촬영소) was founded, named in honor of the date when the Korean People’s Army was created. It's the only animation studio in North Korea.
In the 1980s, the studio employed around six hundred workers, and twenty animation directors.
As a result of the Sunshine Policy of Kim Dae-jung, between 2003 and 2005, North Korean animators collaborated with the South Korean production company Iconix. In 2005, Empress Chung became the first collaborative animation between South and North Korea through Korean animator Nelson Shin.
Outsourcing International works dropped in 2008 due to political issues. The conservative South Korean president Lee Myung-bak ended the Sunshine Policy, impeding the collaboration between North Korean companies. Since 2009, the most visible collaboration of North Korean studios is with Chinese companies. In 2014, SEK participated in the Shijiazhuang International Animation Exhibition.