Interview

<Afterschool War Activities> Ha Il-gwon, greetings by war

임하빈 | 2019-09-11 11:12

<Afterschool War Activities> Ha Il-gwon, greetings by war

 

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Life-and-death war activity was decided by simple and clear numbers game. Extra admission point for university, which high school seniors exchanged for 1 year of reserve military service. War activities are harsh for 19-year-old boys and girls, but it was seen as an efficient and reasonable strategy for test-takers if they can survive. 

 

The enemy students with guns have to face is an unidentified purple cell. Cells that appeared from the sky one day like a lie completely changed the lives of students who were struggling for entrance exam in the classroom. Seongdong High School was organized as Seongdong High School battalion and 3rd grade class 2 was organized as 3 company 2 platoon. They are put in an operation to fight off cells that attack people. Students grown in the classroom, which was a fence for college, are standing in front of immediate death to be closer to the future of college students. 

 Students who were struggling for competitive college prep in a square classroom don’t even afford to look up a sky together. They don’t even face classmates properly, who will almost gone beyond the memory if they don’t open the yearbook. The classroom they have shared for a year didn’t make any memories. <Afterschool War Activities> shows the fellowship of students in 3rd grade class 2 formed by experiencing the war with unpleasant setting of war and extra admission points for university. The trust in each other made by participating in irrational and inhuman war forms a sense of separation about ‘Is the reality we live better than the war?’. The reason why they became to see the landscape where the cells, which took their friend’s lives’ are floating in the sky as beautiful is probably because the repetition of conflicts and trusts experienced in the chaos of war become a fellowship and are penetrated into them slowly. 

 

 INTERVIEW

 

Congratulations on winning at ‘2013 Today’s Cartoon Award’. How do you feel? 

It’s good of course. (laugh) I really appreciate this great prize on the work not yet completed even though there are many other good works. I will take it as an advice for me to work harder.  

  

I went to see the ‘2013 Today’s Cartoon Award’ on the Day of Cartoon (November 3) and I saw your fans even making banners for you. What is the secret of popularity of idol (?) Ha Il-gwon?

I was also surprised they’ve even made banners. (laugh) I’m not an idol, but I’m very grateful that they think me like that. I thought I’m drawing a cartoon with the taste of male readers, but it was quite amazing that the female fans came. I think many people remember my works since I published the work every year without any break since my debut in 2006. 

  

As you mentioned, you never had a break, but published new works every year starting from <Sambong Barbershop> (2006) to <Pure Love of Boss> (2007), <Three-stage Union Kim Chang Nam> (2008), <Pitpat Pitpat> (2009), <Anara Sumanara> (2010), <The God of Bath> (2011) and <Afterschool War Activities> (2012). What is the secret to publish work regularly every year? 

I think my desire to show cartoon I plan as soon as possible is the biggest driving force. During the publishing like these days, I feel tired and hard, and sometimes think I want to take break for quite long time. But when publication is over, I can’t do it because I become anxious. I worry that there are countless good works every day, and I would be forgotten by the readers if I take a break. So, I’m going to work harder. 

  

As you regularly publish the work, I don’t think you’ve worked with long-term series for more than a year. And your books just end in about 3 volumes. Do you have any plan to work with long-term project? 

I don’t think I can do it for a while because I’m quite tired now. I’m usually getting tired of things very quickly, so sometimes I even wanted to do other works even during working one series. I think this is why I can’t publish work for long. 

 

You also acted as story writer for <Hero INC.> and <Carnivorous Princess Yegrina>. What’s the difference between making cartoon alone and working as story writer?

There are advantages and disadvantages. First of all, I can be relaxed physically. (laugh) Since collaboration is made by people, sometimes we can’t deliver requirements properly and sometimes the expression I intended in the course of writing are not expressed as I wanted. On the contrary, the artist’s direction sometimes covers what I couldn’t think of. Such kind of interaction in the collaboration was very attractive to me. I would like to try once again if there is good partner. 

 

What is your favorite work among the ones we talked so far?

After completing <The God of Bath> and as soon as I start to publish <Afterschool War Activities>, I totally forget about <The God of Bath>. This is just to focus on <Afterschool War Activities>. I usually draw cartoon about what I’m most interested and have fun at that moment. I’m always making my best effort to the current work. So, if you want me to pick just one work, I will pick <Afterschool War Activities>. Basically, I like all of my works because I always draw things what I want to draw the most at each moment.  

 

There are many works with unique themes such as barbershop, robot, water polo, magic, bath person, etc. Where do you usually get the ideas? 

There are no special know-hows to get the subject. I just use things that come to my mind in daily life. The idea about <The God of Bath> came up when I went to bathhouse. Because of occupational disease, I always try to find subject while eating or meeting someone. And if I meet someone funny, I remember him or her to use as a character in next work. I didn’t make any notes before, but I’m trying to make a memo these days because I’m getting more forgetful. (laugh) I don’t need to bring pens or papers. I can just save contents in the smart phone 

 

I’m wondering why you always use the subject of ‘school’ among other novel subjects. 

I want to draw ‘students’ rather than ‘school’. One of the reasons is that main reader population is student. Since they are in the period with the most frequent changes physically and mentally, I can create dramatic characters. It is also difficult for authors to change the thinking and attitude of older characters in the work. Since their personality has already fixed for a lifetime, if I try to change it, it is hard for the readers to emphasize. But the psychological changes of adolescent students broaden the room to persuade the readers.

  

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<Afterschool War Activities> is about the school, but ironically, it is available for over 19-year-old and minors can’t read it. Given in that it was available for all ages at the beginning of the series, I think you also planned the work students can read. I wonder why you changed the level in the middle of publication. 

That is something I feel sorry about. I can’t remember exactly, but there was an internet article about the violence of <Afterschool War Activities>. At that time, they society raised an issue of webtoons with sexual assault or murder, but my cartoon didn’t have such problems. But it became a problem as the article used the image of <Afterschool War Activities>. Since there are few violent scenes in this cartoon, I discussed with NAVER and changed it to a 19-year-old level. I thought there would be violent scenes after that. 

 

So, do you feel comfortable to draw after adjusting as for 19-year-old?

Not that much. Even though it is available for over 19-year-old, I think there might be an issue, so I’m adjusting certain level. Kind of self-inspection.  

 

School days in <Afterschool War Activities> are quite gloomy. How was your school day? Is there any kind of affection or regret for it?

My school days were also gloomy. (laugh) As I went to art academy and prepared for the CAST (College Scholastic Ability Test), there were not much pleasant things. At that time, I thought I wanted to grow up quickly. But now, I want to go back those times. (laugh) I feel regret that I didn’t have various experiences when I was student. If I can go back, I wouldn’t be a cartoonist. (laugh) I already experienced what cartoonist is like. I don’t actually have something else I want to do, but I just want to do something I’ve never tried before. 

 

Do you have anything you felt sorry for the current students or do you want to advise them? 

I don’t know how to say.. sorry for them or how pity they are… Actually, I was very surprised to see full of students in the academy. I thought ‘Is that really our country? Why things happened like this?’ But I can’t advise them that something else is more important than studying. Because in the end, they should study, go to college and get a job. But I hope they can think it is not a big deal when they are grown up. Since there are more fun and difficult things to do in the society, I hope they don’t get too tired in school days. 

 

I can see that you wanted to deal with whole class of 3rd grade class 2, rather than emphasizing few main characters in <Afterschool War Activities>. Why did you make high school seniors to jump into the front? 

I wanted to draw various images of students with different thoughts. The peak point of students who are struggling for entrance examination or CAST is the senior years. So I just wanted to show how they act and change when they are in real war situation. 

 

Ironically, students who were in the front said “We begin to talk with those who seemed to be never really get along… we even get close each other.. because of Cells’, showing their dedicate emotion. I think it is like seeing the landscape of the sky where cells are floating as beautiful. Which is better reality for students in 3rd grade class 2, school or war? 

Well, I didn’t mean to say which one is better or easier. Both situations are in the war. Even if they are escaped from CAST war, they will have another war in the society… It is a series of wars. I can’t say that something is harder and more complicated. It doesn’t matter if readers have different conclusion. I just wished for people to think about this kind of war. 

 

Unfortunately, many students have been died in operation. If you can save only one student among characters dead in <Afterschool War Activities>, who do you want to save? 

 ……. I can’t pick only one since they are all pathetic. I killed them all though. (laugh)

  

Gwon Il-ha is a character used your name in reverse. What kind of your personality did you reflect to this character? 

In fact, I just used the name. (laugh) When I created characters, I imagined that what I would do if I’m in that situation. That is why my own images are reflected naturally. I think part of my personality or values are reflected to every character. I think Gwon Il-ha is a character which my wickedness is reflected. 

 

We can’t miss the character Gook Yeong-su. I think Gook Yeong-su, who is striving for the ‘university’ and ‘extra admission point’, is a character who has an important key in the further stories. What does this character mean in this work? 

I didn’t expect the character of Gook Yeong-su would be so hated. He is not that attractive, but I don’t think he is a bad character. He was a figure who was the most faithful to his own war in his senior years. He was also a student who dreamed of going to college and success. A series of situations were just things happened when Gook Yeong-su, who was escaped from the school, was trying to survive under the given situation. 

  

Is there anything you want to say Gook Yeong-su, who is hated by readers? 

I would hate him if there is someone like him around me. (laugh) I don’t think I will get along with him. But if I have to say something, I would say ‘Pull yourself together’ because he is losing his minds during the war these days.  

 

What are your plans for the future and what kind of work do you want to draw? 

I don’t have specific plans for my next work yet. Sometimes I suddenly get an idea for a new work, but I haven’t thought of anything yet. Since <Afterschool War Activities> was a gloomy story, I’m quite tired now. So, I think I will draw a cartoon that can be fun while working. Something easy and fun like <The God of Bath>. 

  

Lastly, please say something to readers. 

It may be so common, but thank you for your love. I’m really happy as a cartoonist because of readers who love me. I will make my best effort to show you more interesting work as much as the love I received. 

 

 


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