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Korean Authors


Writer Kim Hwa-Jin

The mind of reading, writing, and making books




At the start of every year, Korea searches for new stars of Korean literature through Shinchunmunye, an annual spring literary contest organized by Korean media outlets that openly accepts literary entries and promotes new writers. As long as the program has existed, it has discovered many outstanding literary figures and reflected the characteristics of each era. Writer Kim Hwa-Jin, who debuted in 2021 through Shinchunmunye and won the Korean Artist Prize in 2023 with her first short story collection, including the work that won the contest, is recognized as a young writer who best captures the current era. As a reader, writer, and literary editor, she is a person who is sincere about reading, writing, and making books. That is what makes Kim Hwa-Jin’s appearance all the more welcome to literary readers. The following is an interview with Kim Hwa-Jin, who works diligently and wholeheartedly to publish books. We heard about her work, life, and future goals.


Writer Kim Hwa-Jin



It’s a pleasure to have you with us on K-Book Trends. Please say hello to our readers and briefly introduce yourself.


Hello, everyone. I’m Kim Hwa-Jin. I’m a literary editor at a publisher, and I also write books. I published About Naju (Munhakdongne) and short story sequence The Migratory Path of Dinosaurs (Swimming Kul). It’s good to meet you all.


Last November, you won the 47th Korean Artist Prize for your first short story collection, About Naju. As you began your career after winning the 2021 Shinchunmunye with the same-titled story About Naju included in the collection, it must be a very meaningful work for you. Please tell us more about the award and what the book is about.


While I love short story collections, I am very happy to have won the prize that is only given to writers’ first book with my short story collection. I didn’t expect anything like this, and it made me feel the joy of something unexpected approaching me. Each work is a little different in what I wanted to capture, but in general, About Naju is a collection of stories that I have been preoccupied with for years: the subtle and intricate distances between people and minds. We may or may not accept others depending on our age, situations, circumstances, and conditions. I have always been curious about the invisible timing and the relationship between people who exchange influences. I guess you can say it’s a collection of stories about the different minds that “only matter to me.”


About Naju

About Naju



You are both a writer and an editor at a publishing house. Was there a particular incident that inspired you to become a writer?


I have loved the form of novels since I was about 20, because I liked the idea of something that seems similar to reality but feels a little different when you are inside it. And the sense of being contemporary with the people who create it was a sort of strange relief for me in my 20s. I joined a publishing house thinking I wanted to be one of them, and I started writing fiction after work for my own pleasure. I had thought I wanted to be a writer, but I think it was more like wanting to make use of things I created. And I didn’t expect it to actually happen, although I liked the “writing me” better than the “not writing me.”


Making a book as an editor must feel different from making a book as a writer. Are there any differences in your mindset or approach to working as an editor and a writer?


It’s completely different, but there is a pretty good separation. I feel a little more tense when I work as an editor and a little more free when I write fiction as a novelist. I like that transition - going back and forth.


The books you want to make as an editor must be different from the books you want to write as a writer. As a writer, what is the message you want to convey through your books?


It is not that different. I only want to make it into a book when the manuscript I read is good literature. There are as many reasons why some literary works are good as there are writers, and I want to make good literary works into books for their own reasons. I want my novels to be published on that basis. So, in that sense, as an editor and as a writer, I think there are two messages I want to put in my books: There are so many other people in the world, and books come to you at the right time.



When I find a book that makes me happy after reading it, it brings me joy and satisfaction.



As a part-time writer, it must be important to balance your day job with your writing. We are curious to know how you allocate the time for writing and how you balance the two jobs.


I don’t really have any other hobbies, so writing fiction in my spare time after work is still good enough for me. As long as I have the willpower and stamina, I can write the story I like and eat what I want for dinner with a sense of satisfaction. I don’t really need a certain kind of space, or it has to be quiet, or anything like that. I just have ideas for stories in my head, take notes on my phone, go to a cafe near my house and write them down in a notebook, and organize what I have written in greater detail on the days I have my laptop with me. But, that is just the way it is on the days I write, and usually, when I get off work, I just lie down. It is a bit of a shame because I don’t write super hard and frequently.


Your short story collection, The Migratory Path of Dinosaurs, published last year, is a sequence about the relationships between friends told through four main characters. Each story resonated as if it were the story of someone close to you. Do you usually find inspiration for your work from your surroundings?


I think I slowly reflect on moments like the air of one particular day that I can‘t forget over time, or moments when everyone else seems to be natural, but I’m the only one who feels unnatural. There are many things that make me feel unnatural: feeling angrier, sadder, nervous, happy for no reason, or disappointed more than necessary when I’m with people. I don’t remember what the other person was like in the memory, but the emotions were clear - I realized that I was creating characters as I thought about what those emotions were and why. So, I think I often find ideas for my works around me and within myself, as you said.


The Migratory Path of Dinosaurs

The Migratory Path of Dinosaurs



You have been mainly writing short stories until now, but do you also have plans for full-length novels? If so, what would it be about?


Yes, I’m thinking about it. I think full-length novels will likely be about similar topics and characters as short stories. One of the things I’m sure of is that I have been very awful at making friends for more than half my life. I think that’s something that I have been thinking about all along, and now that I’m writing novels about them, I’m thinking about doing a little bit more of it. I want to write about people who wanted to be friends and people who had trouble being friends. But, because I think I have written a lot of short stories about people who didn’t end up being friends, for full-length stories, I would like to write about people who do end up being friends.


“Being around what you love. That is all I want,” you once said. What are some of your favorite things these days?


I don’t know why I feel so happy and satisfied when I find a book that makes me happy to read, especially novels. Recently, I read The Eccentric Family by Tomihiko Morimi (森見登美彦) upon recommendation, and it was the best novel that fit my current state of mind perfectly. It’s about a family of raccoons that are cute, funny, sad, and even daring. And for comics, I loved Tomoko Yamashita’s (ヤマシタトモコ) Different Country Diary. For some reason, when a novelist is featured in fiction, I find myself rooting for them. It’s about a novelist aunt who takes in her nephew who suddenly loses his parents in an accident, and it was just the right blend of sweet, supportive, and ideal story for me. These are some of my recent favorites.



I want to be a person who has something that matters, even if it’s only important to myself.



Please tell us about some of your favorite writers or works.


The novelist whose next book I’m looking forward to reading is Lim Seon-U, who has published short story collections such as Through the Mind of a Ghost (Minumsa) and Green is Anywhere (Jaeum & Moeum Publishing). When Lim writes, you can’t help but nod your head without a second thought, even if people would turn into camels, jellyfish, and trees in his story (all of these are things that happen in Lim’s novels.) I think he is a writer who is good at capturing things like sadness and love that are deeply embedded in the hearts of people who don’t seem to expect anything special from life through exquisite fantasy.


We look forward to your next books as you delicately capture our society through your straightforward sentences. Last but not least, tell us about your plans and goals for the future.


On a small scale, I want to write more entertaining and reckless novels, and on a larger scale, I want to do what I want to do. To do that, I think I need to be a person who likes good things and is tolerant of other people’s judgments. I think what I write in fiction and who I want to be are probably very similar. I want to be a person who has things that matter to me, even if they are only important to me. I want to be a person who can think that other people also have such things, and I want to write novels about them.




#Kim Hwa-Jin#Shinchunmunye#Literary editor#About Naju#The Migratory Path of Dinosaurs
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