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?
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! 😉