The Inha Times(IT): Can you give us introduction about yourself?
Lee Hak-jun: Hi, I’m 28 years old writer, Lee Hak-jun. Let me tell you my story in a time order. I was born in Gyeongju, but I hate Gyeongju, so I have been living in high school away from home. I lived in a dormitory, but school life was too much for me which was a tough life. When I attended university, I want to find what I really want to do, but the history major didn’t fit me that to enter the school with the SAT scores. As I was interested in car, I decided to listen to design lessons. After that semester, I had formal test about it, but I fell. I had to graduate in a year and a half late and led me to graduate in Korean language and literature department where I can do it, since then I had been writing.
IT: What inspired you to write?
Lee Hak-jun: It was too hard for me to study in high school because of the circumstance that only to be allowed me to study. I had to just endure it, but I felt I cannot keep on. When I graduate the high school, I felt that my body was worn out rather than feeling a sense of liberation. One day, I suddenly collapsed. The reason was epilepsy without special cause. After experiencing such a pain, I totally changed. When I went to university, I tried to play a lot, and tried to do several experiences. I majored in history at first, but I wanted to take lessons from other major. I wanted to find something I wanted to do, but what I could I do until then was to just study and try to make it visible to my parents and others. Then I suddenly came up with the idea that I should be honest with myself rather than making it up myself which made me know what I really want to do.
I lied a lot because I had a lot of complexes when I was young. However, I decided not to lie from now on to be honest with myself, and I decided that I should tell others the lies that I had done. That was the moment when I got inspired to start writing.
I began writing essays on my blog. I wrote stories of my school life, my family and my own stories. I wrote ‘My father operated a mill, which was so embarrassing to me at middle school. I was embarrassed when I gave my family introduction letter and it was difficult to interview the teacher.’ I started to write blog about stories that I could not talk to my closest friends. If you put a post in a blog, anyone can come and see it. When I posted things that have been embarrassing for over twenty years, it turned nothing to me. So, the title of the book is also named ‘It’s fine, isn’t it’ In the meantime, I met a very meaningful person. It was when I attend design class. She was in school together, and one day, she talked to me about my blog. She just said, “You must write instead of design.” I was embarrassing at first, because I wrote those things to be honest with myself, not to show. Anyway, she introduced my writings to magazine name ‘around’, and I started to write in earnest since then.
|The cover of his book|
IT: Then, how did you publish an independent publication?
Lee Hak-jun: I decided to go to Seoul with the bundle the writings I posted on the blog and send them to the publishers. At first, however, it was just a ‘bundle’ of writings without any help of designers. The cover was also made in a normal printing shop. I just picked it out in the option given by the owner of the printing shop. Anyway, after I bundled up, there were more places to sell books. It was not that I was trying to make money, but people started to read my writings and started to like that book. And somehow, one designer came and told me that he liked the book and wanted to work together with me. He suggested that we should make a proper book, and we had a long discussion about it. I thought it would be a book with only writing, but it wasn’t. There were a lot of things to care about such as cover, design, margin, etc. A book was created in search of a suitable design for writing. As I made a real book, there were more bookstores to sell, more places to communicate with, and more people started to support me. The cheering has been a force to take the next step. At first, I was embarrassed even the name of writer, but now, I will continue write for the rest of my life.
IT: What are the advantages and limitations of independent publications?
Lee Hak-jun: Nowadays, as I heard, publishers have settled on trendy contents, and find writers to write the contents they already set. How sad that these publishers are behaving. I write what I want to write when I really want to write, and publish it. Such as many independent publications, the biggest advantage of independent publications is that you can put contents what you really want to put without interference from publishers. But the limitation is that the boundaries between early publishing and independent publishing are very clear. The word ‘independent publishing’ itself means ‘under’, and I hope that this boundary will be broken down quickly. I hope many people like publications that do not borrow the power of the publishing company. I hope there will be more spaces for independent publications to meet many people, and more companies about that. I think the writer should concentrate on writing and write only. However, writers of independent publishers should write and promote their own books and marketing themselves. It is such a thing that a publishing company has to do, and I hope that a certain writer monopoly disappears.
IT: Finally, do you have anything to say for students?
Lee Hak-jun: I chose to be honest with myself to find what I really want to do. But even if you do not try to be frank, you become honest one day. When I see adults’ living, I feel they live without worrying about complexes. No matter how, writing or something. I hope you make your own vision and live it.
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