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Korean Authors


Writer Kim Won-Young

Write, Dance, and Desire




There are diverse uncharted spaces in our worlds. Unfortunately, many have biases against unknown areas or make reckless decisions about what they see from the outside. In times when the few have little ground to stand by due to the views of the majority, there are those who dream of an era in which anyone can desire. Writer Kim Won-Young continues to change desires into reality as he transforms himself into a lawyer, a stage actor, a writer, and a dancer. He listens to the voices of people in the margin, including those with disabilities, supports their voices wholeheartedly, and hopes that everyone is the subject of their beauty. Following is an interview with writer Kim Won-Young who ceaselessly writes, dances, and expresses his desire for everyone to be harmonized and recognized as they are.





We are happy to have you in our webzine. Please introduce yourself and say hello to our readers.


Hello, everyone. I am writer Kim Won-Young, and I wrote The Case for ‘Wrongful Life’ (Sakyejul Publishing) and others. Other than writing, I work as a lawyer, but I pour most of my time into writing and performing.


You are actively working in diverse fields as a lawyer, a stage actor, and a writer. However, we believe there are commonalities in your roles as you express and represent others through law, performance, and writing. What does your role as a writer personally mean to you?


Sometime in the past, I felt like I was representing some social stance or being, but not anymore. Each role has a separate foundation – whether it’s my livelihood, my interest, or events in my life. It may sound somewhat abstract, but all the roles fundamentally share two themes I am interested in: rights and beauty.
I would say that my role as a writer is of utmost importance. Writing is the most fundamental act of considering diverse social phenomena, experiencing the life of an individual with disabilities, reading diverse books, directly and indirectly linking various law-related problems, naming issues and interests that arise in the process, linking the issues, and integrating all of the factors mentioned above. In addition, being able to meet diverse readers through writing is an amazing benefit.


You stand for the marginalized, including people with disabilities, through your works: Desire Instead of Hope, The Case for ‘Wrongful Life,’ and Becoming a Cyborg. Is there a reason you decided to write books? What do you care about the most as you write?


Each book has different motives. I wrote the draft for Desire Instead of Hope (Prunsoop Publishing) in the mid-2000s when I was in my mid-20s. At that time, Korea cared far less about people with disabilities, such as me, than now. Even if people showed interest, they were only curious about someone who became successful in overcoming their disabilities. I wanted to grab people’s attention and especially more so in my 20s. I had a strong desire to share my unique experience, unfairness, and marvelous moments that often occurred to me.
If the first book was written out of a desire to share my story, the second one, The Case for ‘Wrongful Life,’ was to answer two critical questions about my life. The first one was, “If a person with an extreme disability should be dignified, why so? Not because it is a morally right thing to do. If a person is truly a dignified being, what are the grounds?” And the other question was, “Can a person with serious physical limits or deformities become the subject of beauty in the era of lookism?” So, the book The Case for ‘Wrongful Life’ shows my answer to the two questions. The book rationally argues why you and I are all dignified, have the same rights, and can be the subject of beauty.
My writings released after Becoming a Cyborg (Sakyejul Publishing) started with the intention of making people think of issues that I want society to ponder upon together. Regardless, what I aim to achieve through my writings is the same. It is about answering this question without conscience or religious belief: “How can my and your body become the subject of the same rights and beauty?”





Desire Instead of Hope, The Case for ‘Wrongful Life,’ and Becoming a Cyborg



You wrote Becoming a Cyborg with writer Kim Cho-Yeop. You have limited physical functions, and writer Kim Cho-Yeop has difficulty with hearing. So, how did you two unravel a story together?


Writer Kim Cho-Yeop is an earnest and bright person. I had the experience of dealing with non-fiction, but she did not. However, she started to study many topics under different themes, while still meeting the deadline for the script we worked out together. Looking at her efforts, I was stimulated to work harder on my book. There were no significant differences in how we worked. Still, Kim Cho-Yeop refrained from referring to a personal experience in non-fiction, while I freely related to my experiences.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 19– Go to the interview with writer Kim Cho-Yeop


In Becoming a Cyborg, you expressed concerns about ableism underlying science and technology. How should technology and science move forward if it is to harmonize with a disability, not get rid of it?


Ableism looks at disability as something to eliminate, and only puts value on a uniformly-defined normal body. Many think that the challenges and suffering of a handicap are natural for a person to experience. Still, I wanted to show that disability is more than a simple physiological pain through the book. Disability should be respected as an identity of a person.
Technology is not a complete product. It is a process of developing skills, systemizing necessary information, verifying empirically, testing before manufacturing, and sharing with society through diverse promotional methods. We focus only on the overall process. Who decides what technologies are necessary for people with disabilities? How is the idea formed through the approach reflected in the bodies of people with disabilities when the concepts are systemized? Was there anyone with physical limits who participated in the verification process? If so, what are their qualities? There are many types of disabilities, and the range also varies. What about the way the technology is advertised after its release? I support all efforts to respect the lives of people with disabilities and offer invaluable technical support to those in need.



Disability is not a simple physiological pain,
but an aspect of an individual to be respected as a part of one’s identity.



Is there any piece that you care about more than other books you wrote? We would like to know how you feel about the book or if there was any special episode related to it.


I write a book every few years. So, I pour a lot of time and effort into writing every piece. It’s embarrassing to read my first book, Desire Instead of Hope, again now, but it holds a special place in my heart as the book reminds me of how I was in my 20s in the 2000s. At that time, I was stressed out, thinking, “this is too full of ego,” and was sometimes surprised by how I could write down for a few days while skipping meals. It felt like I was playing a long classic piece without any mistakes. Sadly, I can no longer write like how I was back in the day, and those writings are often of low quality when reviewed after a few days. Nevertheless, it is too bad that I cannot write like in my 20s.


In the book Desire Instead of Hope, you mentioned, “Everyone deserves a life and should be free to desire.” But unfortunately, the world calls the current era the era of hate. So, what kind of attitude do people need if we are to make it the era anyone can desire?


I believe that people caught in such lives who bravely express their desires are politically committed enough. Suppose one is on the side of listening to others’ desires. In that case, stopping before reacting to the desire with hate or support is necessary. It is because the biggest issue of our society derives from responding too fast. If you want to stop the hate, stop and listen. Even if you wish to address ones who do not agree as haters because you strongly support an idea, stop and listen. Talking about one’s desire and reacting to one’s desire after some time and delicately are the two things we need.


We often feel helpless about unsurmountable conditions, such as gender, family environment, appearance, and disability. The Case for ‘Wrongful Life’ is a book that argues for the ones who cannot fully embrace themselves through an official language named “law.” What is that one thing you want to deliver to people who may be hiding as a lawyer and a writer?


I want to say that “no one needs to be a monster.” People sometimes think that the only way to embrace oneself is to become a monster that tears down walls of reality. Living as who I am is pretty challenging for the minority, and it makes one feel powerless. It often makes people feel like they want to be a monster to change reality. What should we do? I am unsure if there is a perfect way, but I recommend writing and dancing. These are the very two ways of not turning into a monster in the face of cold and harsh reality and of embracing each other. The two become the foundation for protecting, giving forms, and justifying thoughts and bodies.



The two stances we need now are expressing one’s desire and
responding to desires after deep thought.



Is there any new theme or area you want to cover? Or is there any profound message you wish to deliver regarding your works? Please share your future plans and goals.


I formerly stated that one of my core themes is beauty. I have recently thought a lot about the beauty of a dancing body. Throughout the history of performance, especially dance, the concept of beauty changed steadily. Outsiders who do not belong to society alter the idea of beauty. For example, there are renowned Asian or Russian dancers in Europe (Paris). However, those dancers were only considered beautiful from the “European perspective.” Once the dances went against the accepted beauty and showed their beauty as “outsiders,” fans in Europe turned away from them. Dancers with disabilities share similar histories. I am writing a book showing the story as I find documents relevant to the story and writing down experiences I have as I perform.
I think I’ll get on with writing and dancing. At the end of August 2022, I performed in a piece called “Becoming – A Dancer” during the Tanzmesse Festival in Dusseldorf, Germany. It is unclear how long I would be able to survive in the two worlds of dance and language (writing), but I hope to meet my readers and audiences for a long time. My readers and audiences are why I endure, not turning myself into a monster.




#Kim Won-Young#Dancer#Lawyer#Disability#Ableism
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