Author Choe Hyeon-jin
/Photograph by Seo Yoo-jeong
Six Donggukians won a prize in the annual spring literary contest this year. One of the prizewinners Choe Hyeon-jin won a prize in the Hankookilbo children’s book field. The Dongguk Post interviewed her to hear about her life as a young author.
Q. Please introduce yourself.
A. Hello, my name is Choe Hyeon-jin and I am twenty nine. I majored in Korean Language & Literature and Literature and Creative Writing, both in Dongguk University and Dongguk Graduate School and graduated in 2016.
Q. Can you introduce your awarded debut literary work?
A. The title is “Dugeun Dugeun Dudeureogi” and it is a fantasy story. The main character gets nettle rash and when he scratches the rash the letter monster comes out. He fights against the monster with the girl, his classmate. During the fight he starts to have a good feeling about her and realizes what love is. I think nowadays love is the most significant interest in teenagers' life but adults are reluctant when it comes to love. I wanted to tell teenagers it is just a natural thing and not to avoid their feelings.
Q. Where do you usually get the ideas for your works?
A. I am working as a Korean Language and essay teacher in an academy. I always meet students and get ideas from them. I also like observing myself and my surroundings so I can find lots of subjects to write about. I think that is why I can work on writing several stories at one time and I usually finish them in three months.
Q. When did you start writing?
A. I liked writing since I was little. When I was an elementary school student, I found out that combining words and making my own stories were interesting things to do. I also loved to get compliments from teachers. Naturally, I entered an arts high school and then Dongguk University to study writing and literature.
Q. How could you overcome any problems you had while preparing your projects?
A. Writers commonly have a difficulty on external environment. In my case, my parents opposed my career as a writer. They thought it is unstable and has economic hardships. Furthermore, I felt I was left behind in the society and anxious about my dream because my dream was quite different from those of my friends who prepare for employment period. Though, as there is a proverb, flowers bloom in a harsh environment, I focused on my dream and did my best. Now I have a job and write at the same time. When I became financially stable, my parents finally accepted my dream and I became stabilized too. I really want to tell the students who want to be an author to have another job. Almost every writer has a different job other than the writer these days and being locked up only on writing will make your life difficult.
Q. Do you have any special memories in Dongguk University?
A. The most memorable lecture I took was ‘Theories of Modern Korean Poet’ taught by Professor Kim Choon-sik. He taught me how to think and act as a writer. I still have notes I wrote down and sometimes read them not to forget the stance of learning. I also loved to stroll around the school. It was refreshing and helped me organize my thoughts.
Q. Did you have favorite writer or a book during your school days?
A. Yes. I got lots of help from the book “Byeonduri(suburb)” written by a children’s book author Yu Eun-sil. I had many times feeling that I was left out from the society. In the front page of the book it says “I devote this book to all of the left outs. I am a left out person but in the space I am left out, I am the center.” I could work on what I wished to.
Q. How do you think about literature and its role of literature?
A. The most attractive thing is that I can talk about my stories since I think literature is for me not the readers. Moreover, I feel worthy when readers sympathize with my stories. In addition, there is no definite direction that literature should aim. Writers have their own values and represent their characteristics in various styles of writing.
Q. What kind of author do you want to be remembered by readers?
A. My stories are focused on teenagers. I want my stories to make teenagers recall their experiences and solve the worries. Finally, I want to offer them chances to look back on themselves. Now I am working on a story about the environment to arouse attention to environmental pollution.
Q. Do you have anything to tell the students who are heading for their dreams?
A. Do not compare yourself to others. Make your own standard and control yourself. Students who cannot get along with colleagues or are not diligent or not close with professors do not have to worry. It will not make any problem in your future life.
Seo Yoo-jeong firstname.lastname@example.org
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