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Korean Authors


Writer Kwon Jung-Min

“Picturing” an Ordinary Scene with a Fresh Perspective




Unlike novels, which use words to create a picture in the reader’s mind, picture books allow the reader to imagine the story using only “pictures.” If you are a reader who needs a break from reading and watching in the midst of flashy digital visual media, a picture book can be a shelter. Kwon Jung-Min finds new aspects in familiar scenes in everyday life and captures the hidden aspects of human beings in a fresh way through the art of drawing. Following is an interview with Kwon, who practices looking into herself through picture books.


Writer Kwon Jung-Min



It’s a pleasure to have you with us on K-Book Trends. Could you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?


Hi, I’m Kwon Jung-Min, a picture book writer. Picture books speak a different language and follow a different logic than normal books. When you feel like you are having trouble breathing in a world dominated by written language, I encourage you to open a picture book. You will be able to breathe completely different air.


Your book, The Disappeared Dinner (Changbi Publishers), recently won the grand prize in the fiction category at the 2023 Korea Picture Book Award organized by the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA). Congratulations on the award! Could you tell us more about The Disappeared Dinner?


I would like to thank the people who have put so much effort into organizing the Korea Picture Book Award. I hope that picture books will be widely recognized as an independent genre. The Disappeared Dinner is a story of absurdity. One day, when everyone orders delivery food, a live pig arrives instead of dinner. An entire uproar erupts over this incident. I didn’t think the public would love the book because of its critical view towards humanity, but I’m glad it won the award.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 66 – Go to the article about the 2023 Korea Picture Book Award


The Disappeared Dinner, Grand Prize Winner of the 2023 Korea Picture Book Award in the fiction category

The Disappeared Dinner



The protagonists of The Disappeared Dinner, A Guide for Homeless Wild Boars (BORIM PRESS), and We Know a Little About You (Munhakdongne) are pigs, boars, and plants, respectively. It seems to make us think about the relationship between animals, plants, and humans, which we don’t think about much in our daily lives. Are you interested in non-human animals or plants, and how do you think they should coexist with humans?


I’m intrigued by moments when the hidden side of humanity is revealed. In the relationship between humans and animals, the dual and contradictory nature of human beings is revealed, and animals appear as a kind of reflection. Coexistence is a difficult topic, but speaking for myself, I think the harder it is to survive, the more indifferent we become to others and the more insensitive we are to our environment. I think we need to practice going against the inertia of our brains in order to break free from self-centered thinking.


A Guide for Homeless Wild Boars

We Know a Little About You

A Guide for Homeless Wild Boars and We Know a Little About You



“I want to persuade people using a fresh method rather than shouting at the top of my lungs,” you once said. In your books, you have made sharp satires about the underbelly of our society, including animal rights, the environment, and labor issues. What topics are you interested in these days?


What I really meant was that the way you say something changes the attitude of the listener. That is why narration is important when working on a picture book. I usually take a scene or an idea that I encounter in my daily life, stretch it to the very end, and turn it into a book. Anything can be a candidate for a topic, as even the most familiar scenes can have an unexpected story behind them. I don’t have anything set in stone, but I always feel like I want to make a new book.


The Mummy Book (Woongjin ThinkBig) was really refreshing because it was a book from a baby’s point of view about “mom,” who was born again with the birth of her baby. How can we practice looking at our daily lives from a different perspective? Where do you usually find inspiration?


Inspiration doesn’t come in spurts, but it seems that if you look at something long enough, you can see it from a new perspective. The Mummy Book was inspired by looking at myself after I gave birth and had to exist solely for my baby. Since so many social issues are woven into a person’s life cycle, it would be a useful exercise to look into oneself as well.


* K-Book Trends Vol. 59 – Go to the article about The Mummy Book’s export to China


The Mummy Book

The Mummy Book



You worked as a television writer before you became a picture book writer, but there seems to be a distance between the two. What made you decide to become a picture book writer?


Being a television writer has its own merits, but I knew I wanted to create my own work. I also had a feeling that I probably wouldn’t be able to work at a station for long with my individualistic tendencies. Sometimes, I wonder if I can call making picture books a job, but on the days when I can just work in silence, I realize that it is a dream come true.


In some ways, it seems like there are similarities between writing an entire show and illustrating a picture book with a message. Has your experience as a television writer helped you in your work as a picture book writer, and what are the similarities and differences between the two?


They both involve the interaction of images and language. It is similar to a picture book in the sense that depending on how you arrange the images, in what order and pace, and what text you put on top of them, you can convey a different message. But, a picture book is a little more free-form and solitary because it is just me on a piece of paper, and I get to blame my own drawing skills.


Recently, Korean picture books have been recognized around the world. You participated in book talks and seminars at the 2023 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. What was the overall response like? Are there readers from the book fair that you remember the most?


At the 2023 Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) organized a Korea pavilion to display picture books by Korean writers. Some audience members who stopped by the Korean pavilion shared their empathy with The Mummy Book by talking about their experiences as mothers. It made me think that the identity confusion of motherhood is a global universality. I also remember a question after the book talk event, “Where is the dad in The Mummy Book?” The question summarized the circumstances of mothers in a nutshell. Connecting with readers in faraway countries through books was a great experience that broadened my horizons beyond the confines of my small room.


Tell us about some of your favorite picture book writers and works that have influenced you.


Recently, I came across Stare (Pilmuryeop), a picture book by Kim Hwi-Hoon. My heart sank as I saw the eyes of a turtle staring into the darkness of a frighteningly black sea. The book speaks again to those who have become indifferent to the truth since the Sewol ferry disaster that happened on April 16, 2014. It asks us to stare at the truth together. I could feel the writer’s strong sincerity in trying to show the light by piling darkness on fragile paper.


Stare, a picture book by Kim Hwi-Hoon

Stare, a picture book by Kim Hwi-Hoon



We look forward to your next work, as your keen insights are enlightening and resonating with kids and adults alike. Do you have any plans or goals for the future?


Every time I work on a new picture book, I try to define what a picture book is. It is exciting to come up with a different definition each time, and I feel like the process of exploring and discovering picture books is also a process of discovering myself. I hope I can find the strength to keep going, even when the journey gets tough.




#Kwon Jung-Min#Picture book#The Disappeared Dinner#2023 Korea Picture Book Award
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