Monthly Archives: January 2012

A (very) late 2011 recap, part 2: Hyung Min-woo and Park Sang-sun in Brazil


I know K-pop is everywhere and that everybody is always going on about it, but despite all the music-related events that took place here in Brazil this past year, the highlight of my 2011 was, hands down, Hyung Min-woo and Park Sang-sun’s visit in November. They were here for FIQ, an international comic book festival that was honouring South Korea’s production in this area.


Exhibition of drawings from many different manhwas

At first, Park Sang-sun would be joined for Chon Kye-young, but the latter ended up not coming. Hyung Min-woo was chosen, then, and, well, I couldn’t be happier, since I’m much more into his work. Besides having the two manhwa artists participating in a discussion panel, the event held a pretty interesting exhibition with lots of drawings taken from manhwas like Tarot Café, Girl in heels and, of course, Priest.

Facsimile of a page from Tarot Café

Hyung Min-woo’s illustrations for Priest

The discussion panel was a bit empty. It was the last event on a Saturday night, so it was definitely not going to be too crowded. Two other guests were also present: two representatives from Komacon, a Korean agency that focuses on bringing exposure to manhwas all over the world. One of them had took part, earlier, in a sort of portfolio appraisal and talked a bit about how, despite drawing really well, most of those who had brought him their portfolios were heavily influenced by the American aesthetic and that he thought they should bring a bit of the culture to their work.

Tickets for the panel and sign announcing the event

Participants of the panel (the lady in red is the translator)

One other thing that caught my attention was that Park Sang-sun admitted to not knowing London, the place where all the action in Tarot Café unfolds. She explained that the city that she shows in her manhwa is the London that exists in her imagination. Slightly odd, but if it works in the comic books, then it’s all good, right?

Hyung Min-woo

Park Sang-sun

Both artists talked about how they got started in this (HMW started drawing on floors and walls, and became a pro when he was 20; PSS got interested because her parents bought her and her siblings lots of books with paintings) and discussed the connection between Asian comic books and the cinema (it’s becoming a trend, according to them). They were also both asked if Brazil had brought them an inspiration so far and answered that this sometimes happens after you go back home (HMW) and that the beautiful spirit of the people was an inspiration (PSS).

I also asked them if they see their work as a way of making Korea or the Korean culture more known all over the world. Park Sang-sun said that this is an ambition of hers. “If it wasn’t, why would I travel 40 hours to get to Brazil? I think it’s universal, this desire to know how people live in another place and know more about their culture”, she added.  Hyung Min-woo, on the other hand, says he thinks the most important thing is the story you want to tell, even if it has nothing to do with the culture or the country. “Inserting cultural aspects in a story has to happen in a natural way and I try to make the best comic book I can, without focusing on anything else”, he told us.

And that was it! My question was the last one and my brother filmed it for me, but I haven’t put any English subtitles. I’ll try to do that as soon as possible, I promise!

Anyway, it was an amazing event and the panel was really good. It was great being able to see two extraordinary manhwa artists, something I thought would be quite impossible to happen in Brazil. And, of course, my brother and I had to take pictures with them. Not that anyone cares for those, but I’ll post them anyway! 😉


A (very) late 2011 recap, part 1: Hangul Day


I had originally thought about publishing this and some other posts about Korean events that happened in 2011 before the year ended, but things were hectic and, well, I lost my flash drive with the cropped pictures. Better late than never, of course, but I feel a bit about being such a mess in the recent times. Anyway, let’s move on!

Small “shrine” to King Sejong

To celebrate Hangul Day in 2011, USP’s group of Korean studies got together with the Korea Foundation and the South Korean consulate to create the exhibition “Hangul, more than an alphabet“. The event took place in one of the university’s libraries and offered visitors information on the origin of Hangul, as well as showcasing some objects with Hangul characters, poems and kids books written by Korean authors and translated into Portuguese (great, but what about a few grown-up books, too?).

Korean kids books translated into Portuguese

The posters on how Hangul works (below) were not completely new to me, since they were the same ones featured in that cultural festival I attended months ago. That wasn’t a problem, though, because, in all honesty, I hadn’t read them before. =p

After going through them, I learnt a few things, like how the Korean language, with its 72 million speakers, is the 14th most spoken language in the world and one of the few to have its own writing system. Other interesting findings include the fact that the vowels were created based on three fundamental elements – sky, earth and man.

Seo Jeong-ju’s Beside a chrysanthemum; part of Yi Sang’s Wings; Kim Chun-su’s Flower

Of course, these facts can probably be found on Wikipedia (which has, apparently, a quite complete page on Hangul), but I do hate using the internet for reading/studying long texts – I get headaches -, so having the chance to check the posters out was quite fortunate.

Facsimile of Hunminjeongeum, the 1446 document that describes the Korean alphabet

But what I found really interesting was something else. Because of the wide range of sounds that the Korean alphabet can represent, it was deemed by linguists the alphabet best fit to render languages that have no written form. And, in fact, something like this was attempted with some of the inhabitants of Bau-Bau, a city located in the Indonesian island of Buton. Since the Roman alphabet cannot represent many of the sounds in the native language of the Cia-Cia tribe, Hangul was suggested as an alternative and teachers were even sent from Korea. Now, apparently the project was discontinued, but you can read more about it here and here.

A couple more pictures I took there:

Random objects embellished with the Korean characters