So this is Shin-chan:
Scott and I used to watch the show together. Some episodes were funny, some were just strange. I never quite understood it. It seemed to be Japanese anime, but the voices were American and so were the humor and cultural references. It was definitely not for kids, although it was about a child. Lots of dirty humor, some crude cartoon nudity, etc.
I got to Korea, and saw Shin-chan everywhere. The first time I saw it was on a cell phone dongle, which I excitedly bought for Scott (assuming we'd be friends again by the time I got home. Sigh). The clerk asked me "ohhhh! You know this character?" "Yes!" I replied. "He's Shin-chan!" "Ohhhhh, this Jjanggu! He popular children's show!" the clerk informed me. Hmmm. Confused. Oh well, maybe I misunderstood, or the clerk was misinformed. Or maybe the character just resembled Shin-chan? Or maybe that was an English name for an originally Korean show, and people had totally revised the concept, and dubbed it to be dirty in the US?
Months went by. I saw this character EVERYWHERE in Korea. My students had him on their notebooks. He graced popular snack foods. His speech bubbles were clearly in Korean. He was clearly beloved by Korean children, and when I asked students about him, not one ever called him Shin-chan. I'd forgotten about this minor mystery until just now, when one of my friends on facebook "liked" Shin-chan.
Thank you, wikipedia, for illuminating the mystery. He's a dirty Japanese manga character who became a show, intended for adults but with definite culturally-specific jokes: "A typical gag involves Shin-chan confounding his parents by using the wrong phrase for the occasion; for example, saying "Welcome back!" ("おかえりなさい" "okaeri nasai") instead of "I'm home!" ("ただいま" "Tadaima") when he comes home." He arrived in the US, was dubbed with American voices and with American gags to match, and still directed at an adult audience. Meanwhile, in Korea, Shin-chan received a thorough makeover and emerged squeaky-clean and directed at children, with a new name to match: Shin Jjanggu, which means "Shin Protruding Forehead." Commonly referred to as simply Jjanggu, since Shin is the family name (and, in fact, is a common family name in Korea!) The manga, however, is still packaged for Korean adults.
This was a thoroughly insignificant mystery, but I always did wonder. And now I know, and knowledge is power!!