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Live, Laugh, Love, Follow Your Heart! Webtoon Artist Jung Se -jin

With the implementation of the “living with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” policy last month, everyone is curious whether university offline classes will be restored next semester. Jung Se-jin, an alumna of the Department of Design at Sungkyunkwan University in 2009, has been working on All I Want Is… Who?! since last year. This is a campus romance webtoon in Lezhin Comics, where COVID-weary students may get a taste of their long-awaited offline campus life. Without further ado, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) will now introduce the author to Kingos.

The Path to Becoming a Webtoon Artist

Q1. Please introduce yourself.

Hello, my name is Jung Se-jin, and I am a webtoon artist. I debuted in 2015 with the webtoon Secret Crush, and I am currently serializing the webtoon All I Want Is… Who?! in Lezhin Comics.

Q2. Why did you decide to become a webtoon artist?

When I was young, I dreamt of becoming a comic artist. I once drew a short comic and uploaded it onto the internet; surprisingly, I got more reactions than I had imagined. Nevertheless, I had to set aside this dream for a while because of my studies. When I became a college student, though, I started drawing and uploading comics whenever I could on the Naver Webtoon Challenge Comic section; this comic was Secret Crush. Still, because my studies were my priority, I could only upload only very occasionally. In 2015, I eventually entered the Cha Graduate School of Art Therapy without finishing up the webtoon properly. However, during the 1st semester, I asked myself questions such as, “Is this the right path for me?” Then suddenly, Lezhin Comics contacted me to ask if I could officially publish Secret Crush on their platform. As soon as I read their message, I became sure that this was my path. So, I dropped out of graduate school and signed the contract.

Webtoon Artist Jung Se-jin

Q3. How did your college life influence your career as a webtoon artist?

The webtoon All I Want Is… Who?! is based on my experiences at college. Although the overall plotline is fiction, small details are all based on my college life. All those nights I spent crying and laughing over love became inspirations. Also, double majoring in psychology helped tremendously. Being a webtoon artist requires one to draw all kinds of human beings, and studying psychology enabled me to view and express the world from a wider perspective.

Work Desk

Sketchbooks

Bringing a New Color to Rom-Com

Q4. You seem to prefer light romantic comedies (rom-com). Is there any reason you prefer this kind of genre?

My life motto is: “Let’s live simply in this complicated world.” Unfortunately, as I tend to have too many thoughts, I find it hard to live “simply”. So, whenever I watch movies or read novels, I tend to look for ones with a lighter mood. I draw webtoons with the hope that anybody who comes across my work will also feel the same way – have a good laugh and let go of whatever stresses you out!

Q5. How is the working process after planning the overall story?

First, I set out the larger frame. I list the important happenings, then think of detailed events that serve as transitions for each episode. The detailed process goes as follows: first, I write the dialogue, including facial expressions, emotions, and actions of each character. After this, I start working on the storyboard. With rough drawings that only I can recognize, I work out how the overall episode will be produced. Then I sketch out the details, line and color my artwork, work on the background, and add speech bubbles and sound effects. After completing the revision, the episode is finally ready to be uploaded.

Q6. Then, is there any step that you put more effort into?

I pay the most attention to the storyboard stage. Only when the storyboard is complete can I proceed with the following steps. The storyboard is essentially the “framework” of the comic. If the frame is sloppily done, no matter how fine-looking the rest may seem, the work will end up collapsing, which eventually leads to extra work.

Q7. What is the hardest part of working as a webtoon artist?

Working alone is always the most exhausting. With no one to tell me where to go and what to do, sometimes I doubt if I’m on the right path. Lezhin Comics, especially, has no comments section – this means that I’m unable to know the readers’ reactions. Nevertheless, some readers come over to my social network service (SNS) account to give me feedback. Such encouraging comments are like a ray of sunshine to my tired body and mind.

Q8. Were there any memorable episodes while communicating with fans or readers?

There are two readers that I remember clearly. Both sent me an email while I was working on Secret Crush; they told me that their situation was very similar to that of the main characters. Secret Crush is about two protagonists who happen to have a crush on each other without knowing the other’s feelings. In the end, both bravely confess their feelings and fall in love. Both readers sent me a mail saying that they had gained courage after reading my comic and had successfully confessed to their crushes. The words, “Thank you for drawing Secret Crush,” made me glad that I had decided to become a webtoon artist.

Q9. Which message do you wish to deliver through your work?

Remember that you are the protagonist of your life. All I Want Is… Who?! is a rom-com webtoon that tells the story of three characters. Here, the main character, Miseol, is unable to decide between the two men that seem to have feelings for her, but she continuously listens to the voice inside her heart. Although sometimes swayed by other people’s opinions, she finally takes the path she wants to go on. The most important part of life is listening to yourself. Constantly question which life you, not anyone else, would like to lead. There will surely be a moment when that question mark becomes an exclamation mark; just like how I dropped out of graduate school and decided to become a webtoon artist!

Jung Se-jin’s Blossoming Future

Q10. Is there any other genre you want to try in the future?

I will plan to continue drawing romance in the future because I love it so much. Although I have been watching different media content such as action and thrillers these days, romance remains my favorite; more specifically, rom-com. I wish for those who read my comics to feel the same joy and happiness I feel when I read or watch a work of rom-com.

Q11. What do you wish to achieve as a webtoon artist?

Well, I have a small goal; for one in 10 people to have seen or heard about my webtoons. I also want to draw a webtoon in which my readers can say, “Oh, that author’s webtoons are fun,” with no hesitation. Now that I think of it, it seems like a rather huge goal.

Q12. Any last words for the Kingos?

I wish for all Kingos to spend some time exploring their lives. Back in college, I was given an assignment about “me” in a psychology course. There, I had to write about who I was, what kind of person I was, what I wished to do; an essay literally about “me”. Through this process, I realized that all this time, I had no idea who “I” actually was. Even if I prefer spending more time to myself, and even if I prefer being a supporter rather than a leader, all those traits are all just “me”. Admitting that I was not “wrong”, but rather just “different” made me feel more comfortable with myself. After reading my essay, my professor told me that “You are fine the way you are,” and that “You are just you.” Hearing those words made me almost burst into tears. The experience became a turning point in my life. I wish for you Kingos to also take the time to explore yourselves. Listen to the sound of your heart. Think of what you really want to do. It’s all right if there is no proper answer; just the sole act of trying is enough. You will come to understand and even love yourself much more!

Secret Crush

김재희  serenwogml@g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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