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Korean Authors


Writer Yun Jung-Eun

A Writer that Delivers “Happiness That Will Eventually Come”




In 2023, one news thrilled Korean literature fans at home and abroad. It was that Marigold Mind Laundry (Book Romance), a bestseller in Korea recognized as a “healing fantasy novel,” has signed a high advance contract with a major international publisher. For Korean fans, it was a moment of excitement to feel the power of K-literature again, and for international fans, it was a moment of anticipation to read K-literature in their own language. The book’s writer, Yun Jung-Eun, said in an interview that she hopes readers will find their comfort and happiness through reading her books. From that short answer, it was clear that even people who live across borders and speak different languages are connected by a thin but strong thread somewhere in their hearts. Following is an interview with writer Yun, who shares the joy of life with those close to her and spreads that happiness afar through her stories.


Writer Yun Jung-Eun



It is a pleasure to have you with us on K-Book Trends. Please say hello to our subscribers with a brief introduction of yourself.


Hello, everyone. It’s a pleasure for me to be able to meet you all through this webzine, which is thanks to all the readers of Marigold Mind Laundry and Marigold Mind Photo Studio (Book Romance). It’s even better as it’s spring, the season of hope.


We heard that Marigold Mind Laundry has sold over 300,000 copies in Korea and has been exported to many other countries, including Penguin Random House in the UK. Congratulations! Please tell us more about Marigold Mind Laundry.


Thank you for the celebration. It’s still unbelievable, and I feel so grateful. I think the export to various countries, including Penguin Random House in the UK, was more of a lucky coincidence than a result of my writing being particularly good. Marigold Mind Laundry is a novel that started with the idea of what it would be like to erase, iron, or just keep the stains on your mind, and what it would be like if you could take out your broken heart and launder it clean. The story revolves around Ji-Eun, the main character, who runs a laundry in a town named after the flower “Marigold,” with the name meaning “happiness that will finally come,” where she laughs and cries with the villagers.


Is there anything in particular that you pay attention to when your books are published in multiple languages internationally? Also, there must be some similarities and differences between Korean and international readers’ responses to your works. How have the international readers reacted to your books?


There was nothing in particular that I did for overseas publication, but I had a lot of communication with the translators in each country during the translation process because I wanted the message I wanted to deliver to international readers as well as Korean readers to be as accurate as possible. For example, the French translator requested a meeting, and we met at a cafe to check whether the age of the characters in the book was international or Korean. It was because the age-related images in the West and the East are different. I thought it was important for the book to be loved in Korea first, and it would be more natural and good for international readers to enjoy Korean sentiments. I’m also curious about the reaction of international readers after the publication, as not all of the countries that I signed with last year have published the book yet. I am looking forward to the overseas publication as well, with hopes that a flowery wind will blow in the hearts of overseas readers as well.


『메리골드 마음 세탁소』

『메리골드 마음 사진관』

Marigold Mind Laundry and Marigold Mind Photo Studio



The popularity of Marigold Mind Laundry brought a sequel, Marigold Mind Photo Studio, which is set in a different location, a “photo studio.” Did you have a sequel in mind from the beginning? How did you come up with the idea for the sequel?


At the end of Marigold Mind Laundry, Hae-In takes a picture of Ji-Eun and says, “Welcome to the mind photo studio.” I envisioned that if the story revolving around a laundry is beloved, I might want to write about a photo studio. I thought, if the mind was cleaned of stains and wrinkles, wouldn’t we want to see the true shape of the invisible mind? Sometimes, I wonder what color the mind would be or what shape it would be. The mind is shapeless, but it seems to be the hardest part of the body. I have long wondered what the mind would look like, because it can withstand all the pain of life and still feel pleasure and happiness. Both Marigold Mind Laundry and Marigold Mind Photo Studio are based on propositions that I have been slowly thinking about and unraveling over the course of my life, rather than on a sudden idea or concept.


Both of your works are set in places that we can easily find in our everyday lives. Why did you choose these “everyday places” as places where magical things happen? What message did you hope to share with readers through these two works?


I think the most mundane things are the most beautiful. I mean, how hard, effortful, and precious it is to have the most mundane, common, and typical things in life? Yet, life doesn’t seem to sparkle up close. It’s full of sleepy, irritating, depressing, exhausting, demanding, and necessary tasks. And often, we are hungry. But, living with these feelings, feeling joy and pleasure in every moment, and living my life right now, is magic to me. Just as life is happiest when we are attached to our daily routines, I wanted to express this sense of relief in familiar places like the laundry and the photo studio.
If I have a particular message for readers, I think it’s to keep it in my heart. As soon as the letters leave my hands as I write, they belong to the readers. Just like how reading a book at different times often leaves a person with different, not necessarily the same, impressions, I hope that my readers will take away different messages from the book, each one unique to their situation.



I try to keep reading and writing, to keep reading and writing.



Before Marigold Mind Laundry, you primarily wrote non-fiction. Why did you move from non-fiction to fiction, and what are some of the similarities and differences you noticed between the two genres?


I think they are basically different in the way they express within the circle of writing. While novels are more free to use materials under the guise of fiction, essays are a form of self-confessional writing, where you have to tell your own story. You can move forward through self-reflection by revealing your own story, but I think essays are where you tell too much of your story that you feel like you want to cover your face. I wouldn’t say that I switched genres - I have been writing poetry, novels, and essays for a long time, and it’s just that essays are the ones that I have mainly published in the form of books. When the language of fiction comes to me, I write fiction, and when the language of essays comes to me, I write essays, and both genres are equally charming and valuable.


Shall We Walk Together

What I Truly Wanted to Hear

You Can Live as You Want

Shall We Walk Together, What I Truly Wanted to Hear, and You Can Live as You Want



Just looking at the titles of your essay collections, such as Shall We Walk Together (Fandom Books), What I Truly Wanted to Hear (Book 21), and You Can Live as You Want (Vision B&P), gives off a soothing vibe. As a writer who gives comfort to readers through books, is there a particular “healing method” that you use for yourself every day?


I write, walk together, say what I want to hear, and do what I want to do. (Laughs) I call it contemplation, and I love it so much that I consider strolling around in a daze a part of my work. I dress lightly, carry a bottle of water, put on my old, familiar, wired earphones, and walk slowly. The sights, smells, colors, and stories I see along the way become subjects for my stories. After a certain incident, I decided to turn the power of compassion inward, to the people closest to me, rather than outward. My way of healing is to say kind things to those closest to me, tell jokes, share delicious food, and laugh as we share warmth. I often don’t hear what I want to hear, so I tell myself or those closest to me what I want to hear. I think the people I need to make more eye contact with, and share my heart and love with are the ones who are close to me. And then I write. I write when I’m angry, sad, and depressed, and if that doesn’t work, I travel, even if it’s just for a day. Sharing good food, walking together, doing things you want to do, and sharing love with those close to you is the best way to heal.



I hope my readers get different messages from my books
suiting the situation they are put in.



You communicate directly with your readers through Social Media, and you also meet with them at events such as lectures and book talks. Why do you interact so much with your readers?


The most thankful people for a writer are the readers. To have readers who read and like the things you wrote, even consistently, is a great reason to feel gratitude. The reason why I communicate directly on social media is because I can’t participate in lectures and book talks as much as I used to, and my answer to people at the book talks asking where they could meet me - “Come to my Social Media” - was the beginning of it all. Since writing is my priority, I can only participate in a few of the events I’m invited to, and I communicate with readers to apologize for not being able to attend them all and to thank them for their support.
I debuted in 2008 and have been writing until 2024, so I have many memories with impressive readers, which I will always cherish like jewels. I send my deepest gratitude and hugs to all of you who read the works I release, so that I don’t write alone in the corner of my dark room.


Writer Yun Jung-Eun



You once said, “I dream of living a life of reading and writing until the day I die.” “Reading and writing” sounds easy, but at the same time, it’s difficult. What do you do to keep reading and writing?


This might be a bit of a boring answer, but I try to keep reading and writing to keep reading and writing. I don’t see reading and writing as a task or a job, but I like it so much that I don’t think I make any special effort. Yet, I often take myself to my favorite spaces, which are bookstores or libraries - I naturally get to read books. I also read or write in cafes when I have time, which is something I really enjoy doing, so I go there in a good mood to work or write. I think writing is like breathing to me, maybe it’s just something that’s attached to my body. Sometimes, I write letters instead of talking, sometimes I jot down notes or write a journal when I want to remember something. These short moments become my stories.


If you were to write your next book, what would you like it to be about (genre), and what are your future plans or goals?


I don’t have grandiose goals or plans. When I was younger, I had grand goals, but now that I grew up, the most important thing is to do what I can, what I should, and what I’m given. To be greedy, I would like to be healthy and beautiful, enjoying the happiness of aging with the people I love, while living with heart and sincerity in what I can do today. And, of course, writing stories can’t be omitted. The letters on paper become the pupils of my eyes and reflect my heart. I guess you could say my goal is to read, write, contemplate, walk, laugh, and write stories that reflect my heart.
I think my next book will probably be a novel. I still have a lot of stuff that I haven’t unpacked that I want to write about. I would love to live a life where I finish a book a year if I have the strength, or every two years if I don’t. That sounds like a lot! (Laughs)


* K-Book Trends Vol. 38 – Go to the article about the books recommended by writer Yun Jung-Eun




#Yun Jung-Eun#Marigold Mind Laundry#K-literature#Non-fiction
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