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Korean Authors


Writer Yoo Sun-Kyong

Facing Your Emotions and Naming Them




We express our feelings through writings in the form of journals or texts. While writing, we think of words to describe the emotion with the question, “How am I feeling now?” and organize our thoughts. Words like angry, sad, or happy are used to express emotions. Still, we need more diverse expressions and phrases to describe the feeling in detail. Yoo Sun-Kyong, an author who is loved for her best sellers Emotional Vocabulary (Annes’ Library) and Vocabulary of Adults (Annes’ Library), focuses on putting names and expressions on feelings and lets readers face the feelings they disregard. So, let us take time to listen to her stories and see what our emotions tell us.





We are happy to have the writer Yoo Sun-Kyong in our webzine. Please introduce yourself to our readers.


Hello, readers interested in Korean publications. I am Yoo Sun-Kyong. I write essays and books on humanities and also work as a radio program script writer. I enjoy imagining, fantasizing, and being deep in thoughts as much as I love reading and writing.


You recently released a book named Emotional Vocabulary. The book became a hot topic in the industry and was ranked as one of the best sellers. This shows how much Korean readers are interested in your books. Please tell us how you feel and introduce your book to readers in other countries.


To summarize the feeling as a writer who released a book after struggling for about a year, I would say it was ambivalent. I was glad and proud to have a result in my hand, but it also felt very hollow and lonely at the same time. It feels complicated for a month or two after the release. I thought I was the only one who felt that way, but it turned out that writers around me felt similarly after publishing their books. I think the gap in writers’ hearts is filled by readers. Thanks to readers who responded warmly to my works, I could continue my work as a writer.
Emotional Vocabulary is literally a book about how to express emotions in words. One might wonder if lexicon, vocabulary, or word mean different things. Lexicon covers words and vocabulary. For a long time, I was interested in human emotions. So, for around 20 years, I studied psychology and psychoanalysis from time to time. I realized that many parts of sufferings in life derive from emotions rather than an accident.
Specifically, people suffer while denying and suppressing emotions, not the emotion itself. As a result, we get lost in our feelings. Socialized adults are accustomed to concealing or fooling their feelings. In that process, they lose many things. The most significant loss is a sense of oneself and the signal showing how one should live.
There is no right or wrong to a feeling. It is not a subject for evaluation. I believe one can deal with many difficulties in life as long as one understands the state of one’s emotions. The way to figure out the feeling is to give accurate wording. I referred to learnings from psychology and psychiatry to describe how one feels. Regarding vocabulary, I collected 181 types of words related to emotions per situation.



While suppressing and denying feelings,
one should recognize emotions to not lose the sense of oneself.



Your previous work, Vocabulary of Adults, and the recent one, Emotional Vocabulary, are all under the theme of vocabulary. Many have seen books emphasizing the power of speech or thinking. Still, barely any books highlighted the importance of wording. What meaning do words have in our lives?


The importance of words is growing stronger as communities are fragmented and individualized quickly. For example, when people lived and worked within a few kilometers range of their birthplace, people could understand each other with only demonstrative pronouns like this and that. People’s interpretation of a single word was no different. This is because the world was small, and people shared the same experiences. However, we can no longer say that the speaker’s intention and the listener’s interpretation are the same. Thus, using an accurate term with minimal room for interpretation helps reduce miscommunications among people.
The significance of words is well reflected in the expression in my book: “The limits of my world are as small or large as the limits of my language.” I slightly modified Ludwig Wittgenstein’s pronouncement: “The limits of language are the limits of my world.” For instance, when an unfamiliar word shows up, the level and the speed of recognition and understanding of the context and content are highly dependent on whether the person has knowledge relevant to the word. In some way, the foundation of building strength in speech and thinking comes from the lexicon. However, it is not something that improves by memorizing expressions in dictionaries. Lexicon is determined by one’s interest in the world’s phenomena, objects, and matter. Once one becomes interested in a subject, one wonders how to express it. Lexicon can only improve when one desires to learn and use the expression for the item.




Emotional Vocabulary and Vocabulary of Adults



For 30 years or more, you continued writing every day as a script writer for a radio program. It seems like writing every single day would not be easy. In what mindset do you write, and where do you get inspired?


Most people work every day, and it is not that different for me to write every day. I write around eight months a year for a book. During that period, my working hours sometimes far exceed those of a person working in a company.
I started to read and write books at twelve. I chose to work as a radio channel script writer because I wanted a stable income source since I write something every day anyway. One change is that now I have a sense of mission after writing every day for 30 years or more. More than anything, I want to write something I would not feel ashamed of and help listeners or readers through my works, even if it is not much.
Many ask where I get my inspiration. I believe that muse or inspiration exists, but I do not rely on them. You have to write every day, but you would not be able to finish the work if you waited for a muse or inspiration to come. So, the first thing I do is to engulf myself in diverse subjects as much as possible by reading books and observing. The next step is the critical part. Once I finish absorbing, I ask myself, ‘Is what I feel or think the result of bias, prejudice, or socialization?’ Then, I try to think, imagine, and reform ideas in new ways. When the routine continues, sometimes inspiration comes one day in the morning.


There might be similarities and differences between writing daily as a radio program script writer and writing daily to publish books. What would be the similarities and differences?


There are more differences than similarities, like the difference between a poem and a novel. I write speech as a radio program script writer, and I write literature as a writer of a book. Colloquial and literary style is one different factor to count. When I write a script for a radio program, the content is what I want to deliver. Still, words and sentences in scripts are meant to help the host speak comfortably. The host’s pace, tone, speed, and oral pronunciation must be considered to make the script comfortable and easy to understand for listeners. Before all else, radio scripts have time limits. A script should never exceed three minutes, regardless of the content’s value. Especially, opening comments that signal the program’s start are expected to end within 1 minute 30 seconds. On the contrary, books are relatively less restricted than radio scripts. A general length book would amount to 1,000 pages on squared manuscript paper, meaning the writer must carry on with the task of writing with a long breath. Suppose writing on a topic cannot be continued. In that case, it is not worth the effort, even if the subject is considered a quality idea. The most significant difference is that radio scripts cease to exist after the broadcast. On the other hand, books are left on readers’ bookshelves or in libraries. The common factor is that both types of writing aim to reach someone.



The beautiful thing about books is that they connect people.



We believe that there were some impressive readers throughout your career. Can you share an episode related to them?


Recently, I recommended a book through a phone interview with the host Lee Geum-Hee on the YouTube channel My Geumhee (마이 금희). She lost her father recently, and she was deep in her loss. So, I recommended a book to console her heart, Soul Photo, written by American photographer Chris Orwig. A fan who became my supporter after reading Vocabulary of Adults watched the episode and gifted the book I recommended to Lee with a letter. The fan ran a small bookstore in her town. Lee was touched by my fan’s action and introduced the bookstore on her YouTube channel. Likewise, it was beautiful to see that my book connected two different people.


You have written a total of nine books including Emotional Vocabulary. Is there a book you would like to recommend to readers in other countries? If yes, please share.


I would recommend The Power of Mythology (Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc.) to readers overseas. I wrote this after seeing Vocabulary of Adults become a best seller. The Power of Mythology was published last year. I found answers to questions one would think once in a lifetime from Eastern and Western mythologies. Examples of such questions are “Why do I have to live?” “Is life worth living?” “Why is the world always like this?” and “What is death?” The book introduces mythologies, suggests topics on the world and life, and reorganizes myths and philosophical ideas in line with the issues. Sixty-five masterpieces contained as illustrations make it fun for readers to read through and help them understand.



The Power of Mythology



It has not been long since your new book was published, but what would you like to deliver in your next book? We want to know the next plan built by the writer who writes on a daily basis.


My next book will be released by the end of next year. Many publishers expressed interest in a notebook I kept from my middle school years until now. The next book will introduce sentences from the notebook that fit the era, and I will add comments to those sentences. In the long run, I dream of writing fiction.


Any last comments for our readers?


Though reading is on the decline internationally, the Korean publishing industry releases diverse forms and genres of books. I tend not to refer to best seller rankings when choosing books to read. When you search for newly published books from each genre, you can figure out the social trend and find books that fill your curiosity or meet your taste. Dear book lovers, I have no choice but to love you.




#Yoo Sun-Kyong#Emotional Vocabulary#Vocabulary of Adults #Emotions
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