Webtoonist interview - Kim Meng-gi <My ID is Gangnam Beauty>
[My ID is Gangnam Beauty]
Kim Meng-gi | Line
1. Introduction and Debut
Q. Hello. Could you give a brief introduction?
A: Hello. I am Kim Meng-gi, the author of
Q: What was your first encounter with cartoons?
A: I’ve read comic books since childhood. There were always many comic books at my house. I regularly bought and read comic magazines such as Mink, Chance, and Booking. That naturally led to me drawing cartoons and dreaming of becoming a cartoonist.
Q: From what I’ve heard, you majored in cartoons at university. Did your parents raise any objections?
A: I always wanted to go to a humanities college. I was interested in majoring in cultural anthropology or sociology, because I wanted to study those to draw cartoons! (Laughs) I steadily drew them on my own. My parents were actually happy with me drawing cartoons. Regardless of cartoons, they were more on the side of letting me do what I wanted.
Q: How did you debut as a cartoonist?
A: During my sophomore years in college, I heard there was a college cartoon competition opening and thought a lot about whether I should participate. I actually wanted to debut as late as possible. I wanted to enjoy myself while I was still young, learn more and begin a full-length series after that. On top of that, the material I prepared for the competition was similar to the previous year’s winner…so I was thinking of not participating, but I thought up the story of Gangnam Beauty and thought it was fun, so I came up with the story and decided completely a few days before the end of the contest application period. I’m really glad I decided to give it a try back then.
Q: I’m curious of your work schedule/cycle.
A: First, I write a short plot line based on the synopsis I put together until the end of the chapter. Based on this, I create the scenario for that chapter. I make the dialogue and presentation a little more detailed. This takes a day or two. I then put together a continuity from the scenario, and this doesn’t take long since I think up the presentation during the scenario stage. This takes a few hours with some concentration. I then work in the order of inputting dialogue-pen touch-under color-background-wrap up.
The time this work takes various according to the size, content, and my condition. This usually takes 5-6 days, and for something like the last episode of the first season there’s so much to do that it takes over a week…
Q: You took a break because of your health. Are you okay now?
A: I was told not to use my hands no matter what at the hospital, so I’m not using them. I haven’t drawn a single thing after announcing my break. My wrists don’t hurt during day to day life, but various parts of my body, especially my arms hurt sometimes due to constantly sitting and drawing for a year. I’m going to begin on my manuscript soon, so I hope I get better. (I’m trying not to play Pokemon Go anymore. Haha.)
3. Recommendations of authors
Q: Tell me what your favorite comics are!
A: It is hard to pick because there are so many comics that I like. The first one that comes to mind is
Q: Can you recommend some webtoons?
A: I read a variety of webtoons so it’s hard to pick this one as well. Even if I list all the webtoons that come to mind right now, I’ll probably regret it later thinking, “Oh, I should have mentioned this one too!”
I’ve always liked
4. My ID is Gangnam Beauty!
Q: Could you tell me how you first came up with this story?
A: The first time I thought up this story was during class. I am a cartoon major, so I took a class on character creation as a freshman. The class was about putting together your own character after being given a keyword. Most of the keywords were things like ‘shy princess’, or ‘delinquent high school student’. One day, one of the keywords given in class was ‘Gangnam Beauty’ (Gold digger). I got really annoyed after seeing that. I couldn’t understand the connection between plastic surgery and gold diggers and why someone had to be ridiculed for spending her own money on plastic surgery and expensive items. So out of rebellion I created the character of ‘Gangnam Beauty’ with a cool and confident personality, which was the beginning of this character. I would never have thought I would debut with this character, and the personality of this one and the Mirae of now are completely different. I guess it would be like Mirae in the special episode. Later, when I entered a contest as a sophomore, the character was reborn with a shy personality according to the growth story plot.
Q: The feelings you get from subtle evaluations on your appearance and the feeling of being uncomfortable but unable to speak were feelings I could empathize with. Are these stories about appearance based on personal experiences?
A: The topics I was most interested in until now were appearance and gender. The reason I wanted to go to the department of cultural anthropology as mentioned earlier was because there are many studies on whether personality is based on gender or if it is created as one grows up. Because of my interest, I’ve spoken a lot about looks and gender with acquaintances and searched about the topic. I had the thought of myself using this subject for my debut, and I really ended up making my debut story on gender and appearance.
I don’t think of myself as an expert on this subject. However, didn’t professor Jin Joong-Kwon say, “Books should be written in the state of adequate cluelessness. You can’t write if you are too clueless or too smart.”? I greatly agree with that statement. Once Gangnam Beauty is completed one day, it might become a piece of history I regret. I still want to do my best to put what I want to say in this webtoon.
Q: Which character would you pick as the most like yourself?
A: All the characters are a little like me, but I don’t think there is a single character that thinks the same way as I do. It’s easier to write character dialogue if their values are like mine, and harder if they are too different…Do Kyung-Seok was really difficult at the beginning and Yeon Woo-yeong was relatively easy. Yeon Woo-yeong may seem like a flawless character, but that would be overlooking some things (This will be explained in the webtoon). I don’t completely disagree with his thoughts. I also like good looking and pretty things, consider them important, and am interested in beauty (Laughs). Of course, you shouldn’t ignore social context based on your taste and interest.
What I was worried about before the series even began was readers of younger ages thinking “Yes, it’s a bad thing to look at appearance”. That’s why I wanted the character of Yeon Woo-jeong to be portrayed positively. I personally think of him as the most attractive character in Gangnam Beauty! The other characters excluding Yeon Woo-jung have a lot of inner thoughts, but Yeon Woo-jeong has a straight personality so as the author, he’s easy to draw.
Q: Since the theme of perfume is in the story, what is your favorite perfume or aroma?
A: Sweet scents no matter what for me. I like scents that smell sweet as soon as you spray them such as ‘Demeter Sweet Baby’, ‘Ferragamo Incanto Charm’, and ‘LANVIN, Marry Me’. I used ‘LANVIN Rumor 2 Rose’ today, which is Mirae’s perfume.
I get asked for perfume recommendations and questions on perfume because I draw a webtoon on perfume, but I don’t really know perfume all that well! (Laughs)
Mirae’s Perfume: LANVIN Rumor 2 Rose.
Q: How did you end up putting in the subject of ‘Perfumer’?
A: Well…the reason is simple. I had a friend in high school that majored in chemistry to become a perfumer. I thought of that as really cool when I was young, so I kept it in mind to use it as writing material one day, and I thought of it when I was putting together the story of Gangnam Beauty. There’s an odd connection between appearance complexes and perfume, and I decided to use it because I thought I could deliver my message better with perfume.
Q: Where do you get information on perfume?
A: At first I got advice from the chemistry major friend I mentioned earlier, but now I am interested in perfume, so I look it up a lot on my own now.
Q: What is the drink that Do Kyung-seok drinks most often?
A: He usually drinks sweet carbonated drinks. It’s true that him drinking soda at the beginning was intentional.
Q: What is Mirae’s favorite perfume and what scent does she like?
A: ‘Burberry Body’ was mentioned the most story-wise, but the perfume she likes the most is ‘LANVIN Rumor 2 Rose’, which was seen in chapter 1 and 2. Besides ‘Burberry Body’, which Mirae uses because she likes it, most of the perfume she uses are cute and girly. This is because Mirae has long admired the female image of being cute, adorable and charming like Sua
Q: Which actual product is the perfume that Mirae gave to Kyung-suk the most similar to?
A: As shown in chapter 37, I think it’s of a similar feeling to ‘Finish Snowfield’ by Demeter, which is cool and light. In fact, there was actually a perfume specially for Kyung-seok like there is ‘LANVIN Rumor 2 Rose’ for Mirae and ‘Burberry Body’ for CEO Na Hye-sung. It was ‘Hermes Voyage d’Hermes’, but since it would be too expensive for Mirae…I thought of several perfume products but made it fictional. I thought it would be more appropriate for the story. I also thought up a perfume for Sua.
Demeter Finish Snowfield (Left), Hermes Voyage d’Hermes (Right)
Q: The readers realized many things thanks to you being good at picking out the problems with insignificant but rude behavior. Was there anything you used for reference when presenting such things?
A: I suppose for reference I’d obviously use the lives of the people around me and myself. I think the good responses from the readership of Gangnam Beauty would be because they directly or indirectly experienced such things themselves.
Q: What else do you pay attention to?
A: I think it’s the fact that the webtoon I draw has more ‘influence’ than I thought. The first time this hit me was the entry scene of Yeon woo-jeong in the MT arc. From then on until then end of season 1, I received ‘Thank you’ mails from many people. That’s when I think I realized that, ‘Wow, my webtoon can actually give someone hope’. That gave me a lot of strength and made me think I should do better with such scenes, because it could really affect someone.
Self-censorship got worse though…I’m also being careful not to fall into the swamp of self-censorship too much. I think it’s really good to pursue ‘politically correctness’, but I think some compromise is needed, since I’m drawing a genre webtoon. Webtoons needed to be fun first and foremost, right? During the beginning of the festival arc, the self-censorship grew so extreme I fell into a slump. Obsessing over whether even the smallest thing was correct or incorrect and focusing on censoring made drawing impossible. From then on, I decided not to censor the smaller things. I decided to draw what I wanted without damaging the message.
Q: Is there a subject or genre you want to try after completing the series?
A: Actually, before I began the series, I was always seriously talking to my friends about this. ‘I have so many stories I want to try, but what if I die before I draw them all?’ Things like that…(Laughs) Honestly, I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t have time to think of anything other than Gangnam Beauty, and the series is harder than I thought…but when Gangnam Beauty finishes and I get some rest, I believe that I could return to my past self (Laughs) Now that I’m actually on break, I can’t wait to draw the next chapter.
For just a light idea, drawing romance parts has been fun nowadays. I’ve been wanting to try a reverse-harem story where its impossible to predict who will end up with who. I also want to try a variety of looks, personalities, ages, and genders for the romance partners.
Q: Lastly, please say something to those who dream of becoming webtoon authors!
A: I think the source of cartoons comes from playing, meeting and talking to people. Do what you want without regret before your debut!!