Penpal Kitchen

Penpal Kitchen is an interactive narrative VR comic and game about cooking and love. Stranded apart from his girlfriend Dabin for months, Xander was tantalized by the ever fading memory of a particularly delicious dish they'd eaten together called gimbap. Its smells he could never smell, its tastes he could never taste. Until, suddenly, a magical letter whisked him away to Penpal Kitchen, where the two could reunite at last and cook and eat together again.

  • Dabin Lee
  • Xander Lucas Lazar Thornborough
  • Cooper Yoo
  • Seokjun Hong
  • Project Type:
    Student, Virtual Reality, Game, Interactive Film
  • Genres:
    Cooking, Romance, Webtoon
  • Minimum Runtime:
    7 minutes
  • Maximum Runtime:
    25 minutes
  • Average Runtime:
    12 minutes
  • Variable Runtime Details:
    As an interactive experience, the pace the user chooses is largely up to them, and the game section especially could vary. If they try to go as quickly as possible, ignoring the context, it might be over in just a few minutes. Played more normally though, it usually takes more like 10 or 15.
  • Completion Date:
    January 19, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    750 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Korea, Republic of
  • Language:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Korea National University of Arts
  • Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival
    Korea, Republic of
    July 1, 2021
    World premiere
    BiFAN x Unity Short Film Challenge
Director Biography - Dabin Lee, Xander Lucas Lazar Thornborough

Dabin Lee is an animation student at Korea National University of Arts, having also graduated from Korea Animation High School. Her current focus is on stylized, cartoon-like augmented reality content, but she also works in illustration, VR, webtoons, and animation.

Xander Thornborough is a game design student at Parsons School of Design, focusing on the intersection of games, history, and teaching. His work focuses on the potential of games and interactive media to educate, both as didactic tools and simply during play. He hopes to use them to help make the study of history accessible and engaging.

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Director Statement

Over the years, more and more people have been choosing to use the internet to keep up with friendships and relationships. With COVID-19, this has turned from a choice to, for most of us, an inevitable fact of life. With Penpal Kitchen, we wanted to give a spark of warmth and connection to the distance this can so often make us feel, and tell our story as an international couple, trying to create memories with each other while being unable to be together in person.