Category Archives: Manhwas

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

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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.

Overview

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! 😉

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Manhwas now within reach of a broader audience

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I’ll be honest: comic books never interested me too much until I got to know mangas. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m some super fan, I just enjoy reading them more than, say, a Hellblazer comic book for some unfathomable reason. Anyway, since Japanese culture is sort of big in Brazil, their manga production is pretty much all we come by in here, so it took me a few years to become aware of manhwas. But now it seems they are going strong in the Western world and I’ve been definitely reading more about it recently.

In Brazil, Korean comic books will be the focus of the 7th International Comic Book Festival (FIQ) that will take place in the first fortnight of November, in Belo Horizonte. To make it much more interesting, every year, they pay homage to a different country and, as you might have already guessed, this is Korea’s turn. They say this choice was made because comic books are each day more present in the culture of the country, and this is probably about to increase, since Korean government has announced that it will invest more in the production and exportation of manhwas – as of now, they already spend about 3 million wons a year to divulge them. So far, the festival has announced that it will bring Chon Kye-young (from Audition) and Park Sang-sun (from Tarot Café, a title that has been published in Brazil) to the event, so Brazilian fans of the genre have a lot to celebrate.

One other reason to be jolly is that the Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) has just released Manhwa, an application for iPhone and Android that “provides English version of famous Korean comic series such as Again, Ikki, Kingdom of Winds, among others. Right now you can find about 50 different series with a free preview of 30 pages. Apparently, they will make the rest of the stories available for purchase later on (we hope!).

I downloaded the app last Friday on my iPhone and have been reading a few series and enjoying it quite a lot. Everything is in English, which makes navigation really easy. Besides that, there are quite diverse titles available, so everybody will end up finding something to their liking. Reading on the phone’s small screen is not really my cup of tea, but it’s not impossible (books, on the other hand, ugh!) and if it’s the only option available, I can live with that. I’ll try to download it on my brother’s iPad some time this week to see how it goes.

Anyway, the idea is quite amazing, because not everybody has access to all these different comic books in their countries. Of course, there are readers who would prefer reading them in their language, but we cannot have it all, now can we? And I know some people think differently, but I’m not too keen on buying everything off the internet, what with the long waiting periods, the delivery rates to Brazil and, depending on the merchandise, the taxes we have to pay when things finally arrive. So buying a comic book and downloading it to my phone/tablet almost instantly is definitely the ideal way for me. Learn more about the app here.

Finally, if you’re not thaaat interested in comic books, you could always try a movie inspired by a manhwa! There’s only one I’m aware of, though: Priest was released earlier this year and features actor Paul Bettany as the main character. The movie was loosely based on the graphic novel of the same name and actually was a bit of a flop. On the other hand, the comic book, created by Hyung Min-woo, has received good critique, especially for its art. It basically tells the tale of a priest that comes back from the dead to get revenge (for a more in-depth summary and analysis, click here.

I haven’t read the comic or watched the movie, but since it has also been published in Brazil, I’ll try to get hold of the series as soon as possible to show a bit more about it in here.

Check out more posts from this collaboration HERE.
Check out the other collaborators’ blogs here.
Check out The Korea Blog!