While in Korea, I had the fantastic opportunity to meet with Sora Kim-Russell, the lovely woman who translated I’LL BE RIGHT THERE by Kyung-Sook Shin. I had such a wonderful time. Here’s a preview of the interview:
STATUS UPDATE: I have returned, safe and sound, back to America. But that does not mean, I am going to stop posting. I have so much to tell you about my time in South Korea. Due to assignments and just plain busyness, posting will obviously be a little late. However, I have posts planned out and I just have to write them. Stay tuned.
While in South Korea, I got the wonderful opportunity to meet the translator of I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-sook Shin, Sora Kim-Russell. The interview was both inspiring and insightful. I’ll be posting the interview soon. However, here’s my review of I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-sook Shin.
How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, I’ll Be Right There follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief. Yoon’s formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.–Goodreads
To be completely honest, the title of this post is misleading. I am, sadly, not attending London Book Fair, nor have I ever but I hope to in the future. However, in the next few days while the London Book Fair is going on, I will be researching tons of things on what is going on over there. The London Book Fair is showcasing South Korea’s publishing industry, which is partly the reason why I decided that I should take a closer look at their industry too.
I want to keep you in the know and share with you one thing I’ve learned from my research of South Korea’s book publishing world (that is discussed at London Book Fair). Most of the information I found can be read in the PW London Book Fair Show Daily Day 1.
Webtoons (also known as comics/만화 (manhwa))
Today, let’s talk about webtoons. South Korea seems to be the king of webtoons (or maybe we can call them the hipsters of webtoons). Surely, with the Korean Wave that I’ve mentioned before, will eventually be introducing webtoons to the world soon. This is why I think it is so fantastic for South Korea’s publishing industry to be showcased in London because it is breaking out of their circle of readers and letting others know about their publishing market trends.
The lecture that is taking place at London Book Fair, is done by comic book writer, Yoon Tae-Ho. He seems to be a fantastic writer, and has received top honors in Korea Content Awards. One of his comics has even been made into a movie, Moss (directed by Kang Woo-Suk). Check out the trailer below:
I will definitely be checking this out, among the other works he has done.
I didn’t realize webtoons were such a big thing in South Korea’s publishing world. I haven’t read much comics. I only read a few mangas and some American graphic novels but from what I’ve learned from Korean media, they know how to make a good story, no matter what outlet it may come from.
If you have any recommendations of South Korean authors, comic writers, or publisher, let me know and I’ll make sure to research more about them.
Everyone has asked me the question, and I mean everyone: why South Korea? They ask for a number of reasons but the top two are because (1) they genuinely want to know why I personally choose the country or (2) they are concerned for my safety and have decided to tell me not to go but they want to hear my excuse first.
Since you, people of the Internet, don’t know me that well yet: I hope you ask why for the first reason.
My first, noticeable piece of South Korea was something that I stumbled upon on Youtube. I watched this video that started this curiosity:
Mind you, at the time I was going through the worst semester ever and coping by trying to pick a study abroad program that was right for me. Maybe this was more subliminal messaging but I am glad that I fell for it.
With the video, I was interested in the one show that I wasn’t at all familiar with and it shocked me because I was definitely familiar with Tumblr. It was a show called You’re Beautiful. When I read what the show was about, I was sold. I didn’t realize it was Korean until I started watching it.
During the worst semester ever, there were some highlights. Watching the cheesy but terribly hilarious You’re Beautiful was one of them because discussing the drama was actually how I met one of my best friends. She is an exchange student from South Korea and throughout the semester, she pushed me into putting more effort into researching the study abroad program for South Korea. And I delved into everything I could about the country, culture, pop culture, and study abroad program. And found out some awesome things that I just couldn’t say no to.
Jeanna’s Top 5 Reasons Why South Korea Is The Place To Go
1. Book Publishing
I didn’t mention before but I am studying English and Communication Arts to become a book publisher—hopefully, right after graduation. South Korea’s book publishing industry (as it seems from the research I did) is developing but at a fast pace. The country is being showcased in this year’s (2014) London Book Fair. Also, there is a huge book convention in South Korea: Paju Booksori (파주북소리) every year, which is said to be the largest book publishing convention in all of Asia. Since 2012, I have participated in Book Expo of America (BEA) but to be able to attend another convention would be amazing. Plus, there is a place nicknamed Book City (Paju).
2. the Korean Wave
I actually wasn’t even aware of the Korean Wave until I read about it, during my research. South Korea is taking the world by storm with its pop culture. Right now, South Korean musicians and bands are touring the world, sharing their music with a wider audience than ever before. I’m curious to what or maybe why this all started (and I think it must have started way before Psy’s Gangnam Style). I think it’s awesome and definitely amazing how this pop culture can become such a huge hit with an international audience. It astounds me that audiences who may not even know the Korean language are still caught in this wave of pop culture.
3. the language
This reason didn’t become a prominent reason until I actually started learning the language this semester. My first glimpse into the language was listening to the Korean dramas/ TV shows last semester but I didn’t fall in love with the language until I started speaking it. Even now, I am hesitant to say that I speak the language, because I don’t—I’m still a beginner learner with a growing vocabulary. Languages are difficult to learn but the reason, in high school, why I wanted to learn French was because it sounded gorgeous. To this day, after six years of learning French, I still think it is a gorgeous language. The Korean language is different. When I speak Korean, the language makes me feel gorgeous (can I say that, does that make sense?). I don’t know what it is. It could be the way the words flow with one another, the way the lips and tongue move, or even the way there is no expression but so much expression at the same time. Learning the language is one thing (which is what I am trying to tackle now) but experiencing the language would be amazing.
This list is winding down but I could go on for quite a while. South Korean advertising made it to my top 5 list because I am so intrigued by it. What Americans call celebrities, Koreans call idols. We can discuss idols a different day, but a lot of the advertising is done with an idol’s sponsorship. It is persuasion at its best. I mean, sure we have lots of celebrity sponsorships: Taylor Swift is promoting Diet Coke, Emma Stone is promoting Revlon. But South Korea does their advertising with a different angle, a different style. I’d love to figure it all out. (pic: Lee Min Ho with 바나나맛 우유)
5. Dramas/ TV shows
I have to put this on the list because it is what started it all. Indirectly, my watching of You’re Beautiful began my research in looking into South Korea as a place to study abroad. From there, I opened endless possibilities. The more shows I watch, the more I find myself curious about what happened in this scene and why that character did that. It ties back to Korean culture and tradition. Obviously, everything one watches in the media is not true, but one has to filter some truth out of it. The TV shows are filled with endless locations that people visiting the country can go to. It is giving me several ideas of where to go when I have free time there. (pic: just finished Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점) last week)