Before you published “Moving”, you showed great determination on SNS. I always feel this way. My determination is always great! (laugh) Is it self-confidence or is it anxiety? It’s anxiety. To be honest, I’m absolutely not afraid of other writers, but readers always scare me. Some say creation is a fight with yourself, but I don’t. It’s a fight with the reader. I’m trying to entertain the reader, so I must make the reader surrender. If the reader isn’t entertained, I fail. That’s why I’m always anxious.
You divided your previous works between “romance manhwa” and “chilly mystery manhwa”. However, you said “Moving” is an “action manhwa”. The first half looks like a romance but not the second half. It’s not mystery either. I called it an action manhwa because there’s a bit of action in the second half, but I’m having some regrets now (laugh). From the beginning to the end, the main character doesn’t do much. I mean, he can’t (laugh). But it will end with a bang. There’s action in 3/4 of the overall scenes. I might get criticized a little bit for that (laugh).
But why is it titled “Moving”? If the title had been “Action”, it would have been necessary to show a hero with great flying ability and who goes through big stuff. However, I wanted to make a story that moved just a little. The characters, the plot. To be honest, I don’t think a lot about the title when I’m choosing one (laugh). Anyway, I wanted to make a hero who flies in the sky and I wanted to try to create a hero that would fit in the Korean reality. Even if it could have been a hero like Iron Man that you can see in the US, his skill would have been too much in Korea. And it’s nice that there’s a nuance similar to “Timing” in which there were characters able to control the time.
In that case, what kind of supernatural power a hero living in Korea can have? To be honest, there’s no better background to tell a story about a hero than a story taking place in Korea. If there were someone with supernatural powers in a divided country where you still don’t know if a war will break out, it’d bring a lot of interest, regardless if it’s North Korea or if it’s South Korea. It’s something I heard from expert journalist Joo Jin Woo, but people working at the Agency of National Security Planning also said that someone with supernatural powers woul be useful to obtain intelligence.
You also consulted Professor Jung Jae Seung. I asked him about supernatural powers because he’s a brain specialist. When Jae Seung-hyung was at KAIST, he said he got a lot of weird requests. He said there were people who claimed having supernatural powers, so he got them tested, but in the end none of them had supernatural powers.
But why did you choose the ability to fly among all supernatural powers? Because flying in the sky has its charm. Many people dream of being able to fly in the sky.
Your recent work is greatly memorable because it deals with themes based on unreal stuff. Even romance manhwa “Any Moment of Yours” or “Witch” are filled with an outlook on zombies or on the occult. The older I get, the more I want to tell lies. I mean, these are stories I can tell because it’s a manhwa. I feel no charm from realistic stories. That’s because the reason I like ghost manhwas is also because I like telling lies. No matter what you say, there is a big space for creativity because these are “lies” [t/n: he uses a slang word]. It’s the same for supernatural powers. Marvel’s super heros are unreal. Ant-man is completely unrealistic (laugh). However, this is what makes the story fun. I wanted to try to make this kind of comics because I think it’s the writer’s share to make these wild stories look real.
Before “26 years”, the gap between each manhwa was up to two months. Starting with “26 years”, it took 6 months. And now, your standard is a manhwa a year. I didn’t publish at all last year. I was writing a story, and the blame goes to my committment slowly growing bigger. To be honest, for what I published before “26 Years”, if I was in a comfortable financial situation, my committment didn’t go further than that. However, when I didn’t publish, I had pull up my sleeves and get down to work to publish something. Right now, I’m more comfortable than I was back then, so I’m taking my time. However, it’s my first time taking a break over a year.
I don’t know if you taking more time between two projects isn’t because you’re being more ambitious too. It might be because I’ve been doing this for so many years, but I’m a person too and I do get influenced by the comments readers leave. If there are a few hundred comments saying it’s boring, it makes me want to bring out the climax that was coming up. There are writers who throw everything away because the story structure isn’t stable. That’s why you must complete the story before you start publishing. That’s the way to keep going and pulling the story together and trusting yourself. Besides, I’m not as good as other manhwakas when it comes to drawing, so I can’t afford to slack off even on the story. I think the story is my weapon, so my committment about that is growing. I’m keeping my principle of going into publishing only when every line is perfect.
You don’t seem stressed when you say yourself you can’t draw. Just a few years ago, i was a complex. However, I learned that drawing and manhwa are two different fields. When you look at my illustration, it’s true that my drawing is somehow weak, but my storytelling has no weakness. Thinking like that made my complex disappear as time went by.
You said the plot was your weapon, but isn’t it more about precise characters? I think readers give their support to characters’ behavior thanks to the way most of stories make them love the characters. That’s why my work was becoming boring. I take a lot of time to introduce the characters. For “Moving”, I still couldn’t pass the characters introduction even at episode 6. There was almost nothing happening. However, this is the process that guarantees the entertaining aspect of my work. The success or the failure of a story depends of how close the readers feel to the main character. You need to organize the emotional sympathy to make readers understand a character. Instead of an introduction with indecisive, passive characters, I show each circumstance one by one to make the situation look indecisive and passive. It’s an ignorant method, but this is what leads to emotional sympathy in the end. Once the character is explained as best as possible and can be understandable, it brings strength to the story. In the end, you must keep going while looking at the story’s resolution. That’s why I must keep up with my plan because I prepared the story perfectly and I must not be wavered by anything anyone would say.
In most of your stories, there aren’t more than 2 couples as central characters and the story gets entangled and revolves around them. I like the sitcom “Friends” and you can see there are 6 characters in it. In a sitcom that runs a little bit over 40 minutes, the episode is based on two couples each time and three events. It can only be funny. I use a similar strategy for the couples I write in my stories. I like stories that draw a big line with the association of non-strong characters.
Unlike your previous works, the focus on the relationship between the characters Bong Suk and Hee Soo in “Moving” leaves a deep impression. The second half of the story is about Bong Sukie and his parents as well as Hee Soo and her parents. That’s why it turns into a 3-couple story. It’s the first time that I divide the plot responsibility half-time.
Many stories recycle the death character trope to create a tragic emotion. I wondered if it wasn’t because you were sensitive to death. Novelist Kim Joong Hyuk had the same question. This answer may not seem like it, but killing off a meaningful character when you’re stuck is a hole (laugh). Your story keeps going with the other characters trying to fill this hole. When I think about it, I think I’ve always thought a lot about death since I was a kid. My father was a minister, so it happened that I followed him to the funeral hall of someone who passed away. Back then, I couldn’t understand people laughing and chatting at a funeral service. I understood when I got older. It’s something you can’t help when you’re trying to stay up all night. Nothing can provoke a tragic feeling like death does, but people end up going back to ther lives in the end.
There’s this feeling of isolation in most of your stories. Be it physical isolation or emotional isolation, it often turns into the story of a lonely person. Having characters paying attention to this loneliness or offering a hand is a way to keep pulling heartstrings and make people cry.
Many of my characters are poor. That’s because my family was poor when I was a kid. And it made me turn to loneliness. Starting from my second year of high school, friends I used to play with in elementary school and in middle school curiously got money and had fun. It wasn’t about gathering at someone’s place or playing basketball. It was going out and having fun in coffee shops, pizza places, collatecs [t/n: it’s like a night club for teenagers]. But I didn’t have pocket money. I only had money for the bus fare. I was very poor. However, it happened that my friends treated me to a meal once or twice. It made me feel uncomfortable. That’s why I distanced myself from them as time went by. Still knowing they were being considerate of me, things turned out this way. Unless you’re the person concerned, you can’t know. My youth back then was a sensitive period of my life. Still, I got along very well with the other kids when we were at school. Then, I went to the library all by myself after school.
You mean you went to the library because you couldn’t have fun with them? Starting from my second year of middle school, I had fund reading books at the library. I liked stories, and especially the erotic stories (laugh). Kim Sung Jong’s original “Eyes of Dawn” was very erotic. Yeo Ok was no joke (laugh)! And there are many mystery novels which start with a dead naked woman. I like popular mystery novels, popular novels, martial arts novel, but I was impressed by Kim Yong’s “Young Woong Moon”. When it comes to history novels, I really admire Jo Jung Rae’s “The Taebak Mountains”. Saying that I read every book of the library makes you wonder how much I didn’t study, right? However, my mom thought back then that I was studying very hard (laugh). Still, it seems that I went rightky astray in such environment.
‘TO BE CONTINUED…’
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com