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Korean Authors

 

Writer Jung Ji-Don

An Adventurer Stepping Into Uncharted Territory

 

2024.06.03

 

Although he has been a novelist for 11 years now, since winning the New Writer’s Award in 2013, writer Jung Ji-Don has never stopped attempting new things and taking on new challenges. He is also known for his diligence and consistency in writing, with as many as 8 books published last year. Drawing inspiration from everything in the world, he expands the world of his readers little by little, and for as long as you spend time reading his works, you can detach yourself from the world, concentrate, and take a journey into the book with all your heart. Following is an interview with writer Jung, who, like an adventurer who tirelessly ventures into unknown territory, is not afraid of failure and writes in the wide bounds of fiction, free from the constraints of society and the system.

 

Writer Jung Ji-Don

 

 

It is an honor to have you with us on K-Book Trends! Please briefly introduce yourself to our readers.

 

Hello, everyone. I’m Jung Ji-Don, and I write in various genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and critiques.

 

You have been very prolific in your writing, even saying you have “no interest in anything but fiction.” But, in college, you studied film. What made you switch from film to fiction?

 

Studying film, I realized that filmmakers have to be entrepreneurs of sorts: you have to secure investment, calculate profit and loss, hire staff, and, most importantly, measure the success of your business – the movie. While literature is not completely free from the commercial framework, it is much less constrained, and publishers do a lot of the work that filmmakers do. There are also producers in the film industry, but when you are a rookie director, you have to consider production.
Anyway, I didn’t see those constraints as a positive thing at the time. I valued the freedom to try and fail, and I wanted to get away from the gravity of commerciality and popularity.

 

As a novelist in the 11th year of writing since your debut in 2013, what is it about fiction that appeals to you?

 

I think fiction is a genre that has a very wide reach. There’s nothing difficult about putting poetry, essays, plays, thesis, and journalism inside it. You can do it with poetry, too, but then the work becomes burdensome and heavy. But, poetry within a novel is not burdensome at all!
Sure, if you use every inch of a novel’s reach, the downside is that your readers will have a hard time reading.

 

 

I value the freedom to try and fail.

 

 

In 2023, you published 8 books, both solo and co-authored. It sounds like you have had a very “prolific” year, writing across genres, including fiction and non-fiction. Do you have a reason for being so active? We’d love to hear about your daily routine (or writing process).

 

I think it’s a natural thing because writing is my job. I write every day. There are only 3 situations where you can write little: 1) You have a lot of money, 2) You have another job, or 3) You are a bestselling writer - and I’m not all three.
I don’t have a specific routine or schedule, I just work according to my body’s rhythm and the amount of manuscripts I have at the time. If I had to describe a characteristic, it would be that I have a reversed day and night life. During the day, I get a lot of contacts, and it’s very hard for me to focus!

 

Your new book, Brave New Human (EunHaengNaMu Publishing), was released at the end of April. The book is a reflection on the family system in a near-future society. Could you tell us a bit about it?

 

The book Brave New Human is a novel set in a near-future Korean society where artificial wombs have been commercialized, and “normal people” born through natural childbirth and “in vitro people” born artificially coexist. If a human is not born from a human body, has no family, and is produced in a factory of sorts, could they be considered the same human? Are family, parents, siblings, and children essential aspects of being a human being? If life can be artificially produced, then where is the value of life?

 

『브레이브 뉴 휴먼』

Brave New Human

 

 

You are known for writing about a variety of subjects, such as architecture, film, and science, and for taking on experimental challenges in your works. Where do you find inspiration for your never-ending experimental spirit and your works?

 

I get it from everywhere. I think it’s really EVERYWHERE. I can’t really pinpoint where or how I get the ideas; I think that’s why it is important to keep my body in a state of gentle openness.

 

In particular, the book A Compilation of Works That I Think of Vaguely as Poems on LA/Driving, Recorded on a Small Digital Recorder While Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles at Dusk (Jakkajungsin Publishing Co.), published in 2023, exudes a unique feeling from its long title and slanted cover. This is your first serialized novel on the theme of mobility. How did you come up with the idea for the series?

 

I had this idea that transportation is not just a tool, but something that defines our identity and weaves the shape of society. Then, I discovered that there is actually a field of study called “mobility.” So, I began to write short stories while studying mobility. In a way, as I continued to write more and more, it turned into a series of short stories.

 

A Compilation of Works That I Think of Vaguely as Poems on LA/Driving, Recorded on a Small Digital Recorder While Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles at Dusk

A Compilation of Works That I Think of Vaguely as Poems on LA/Driving, Recorded on a Small Digital Recorder While Driving from San Diego to
Los Angeles at Dusk

 

 

You have been covering a wide range of subjects and materials through each of your works. Is there a message you ultimately want to convey through them?

 

I don’t think I have ever thought of a message that ultimately penetrates through. I think if I wrote with a clear idea of what I wanted to say, it would be a manifesto, a treatise, not a novel. Of course, there are works where the topic is clear and the writer’s intention is explicitly shown. But for me, that just kills my motivation to write.
I write because I want to step into uncharted territory. I guess I write out of a desire to venture into places I don’t know much about and where no one else has gone before. Regardless of whether the adventure fails or succeeds, perhaps someone will be inspired by my adventure and go further - which would be great!

 

Writer Jung Ji-Don

 

 

Is there a book of yours that you would recommend to international readers and a memorable quote from it?

 

I would like to recommend reading Everything Was Forever (Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd.).

 

“I have always been fascinated by people who have been unable to do anything. You might call it incompetency, depending on your point of view, but ability is the most overrated virtue. Ability does not come from within a person, but consists of an interaction between inside and outside, and ultimately lies outside of the person. In that sense, people who haven’t accomplished anything aren’t lacking in ability, they have the ability of denial. If competence is the kind of ability that proves oneself, incompetence is the kind that proves the world.”

 

『모든 것은 영원했다』

Everything Was Forever

 

 

We look forward to your next work as you continue to break the mold and try new things. Last but not least, do you have any goals or plans for the future?

 

I don’t have any special goals or plans. Writing on deadline – that’s my only plan and goal right now. Thank you.

 

 


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#Jung Ji-Don#Fiction#Brave New Human#Adventurer
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