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A Genre for All Generations: Young Adult

The evolution of fiction, scalable to different media

 

2021.12.06

 

The genre of fiction is limitless in its scope. Any source that can be narrated into an interesting story can turn into a novel. A particular genre that brought a new sensation to the publishing market, infusing energy into the fiction market, is YA (young adult). The genre of young adult, which was regarded as an off-mainstream genre in Korea as it did not have a distinct feature, has come to the center of the spotlight with various works. Young adult fiction refers to a type of fiction for all age groups, maximizing the fun of reading and often based on fantastical elements. The greatest charm of the genre is that it embraces all generations as well as its primary readership (teenagers). As a type of genre literature or a mixture of its elements, young adult fiction can be categorized by its fast flow and strong power to engage, portraying the growth of the main character through stories of hardship, adventure, and love. As a result, the genre has emerged as an important part of the publishing market, which can be reflected in the creation of a “Genre Literature Award for Young Adult Fiction” and the production of popular young adult titles.

 

The birth of a fiction that embraces the sympathy and diversity of generations

 

The mainstream of young adult fiction in the US or UK, where the craze preceded Korea, was romance fantasy that transcends reality or enabled characters to escape from it. However, the recent trend in the genre has changed to stories in which the teenage protagonists stand at the harsh crossroads of life and death. The best young adult fiction series that turned into Hollywood movies, receiving much love from the audiences in Korea, include The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, and Maze Runner.

 

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Wandeuk, Elegant Lies, The Wizard Bakery

 

 

It’s been a while since young adult fiction started in Korea. The best examples are Wandeuk (Changbi) and Elegant Lies (Changbi), written by Kim Ryeo-Ryeong, familiar works to Koreans which also turned into films. Another example is The Wizard Bakery (Changbi), written by Gu Byeong-Mo. With teenagers as main characters, these books feature social pains and many stories they experience as they grow up. Also, Wandeuk and Elegant Lies have a common point in that they showed the influence of the young adult genre as the popularity of their novels led to films. The characteristic of young adult fiction is that it can evolve into other fields with unique fun and the compelling story is another competitiveness of the genre. As it is recognized as a literary genre that accepts the generational characteristic in which people pursue new things and yearn to experience various cultures, more readers are interested in young adult fiction. With multiple titles announced one after another, young adult as a genre has become a superstar in the publishing market.

 

Young adult fiction broadens the scope of K-content

 

The representative book that is recently leading the young adult market is Almond (Changbi), the acclaimed young adult fiction written by Sohn Won-Pyung. The book, which sold 800 thousand copies since its publication in 2017, won the 10th Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction. It features a special coming-of-age story of a boy who has become indifferent to others’ emotions, unable to feel empathy. The book intriguingly describes the stories taking place among Seon Yoon-Jae, a 16-year-old boy having trouble with feeling emotions, Goni, who has a deep pain in his heart, Dora, who has a crystal clear sensibility in contrast, and Dr. Shim, who wants to help Yoon-Jae. It features how Seon Yoon-Jae, who cannot properly feel anger or even horror due to the small amygdala called “almond,” meets Goni, whose emotions got crushed after a terrible accident that took away his family on his 16th birthday and Christmas eve, and changes by questioning his own feelings and empathizing with people. The book lets readers think once again how difficult it is to understand others’ feelings but how precious it is at the same time. The book Almond has been a hit in overseas markets, translated and published in 20 countries across the world up to date. It underwent a 20th printing in Japan, and a 5th print run was also made in Spain.
The Cat Moon (Attibom) series written by Park Young-Joo and illustrated by Kim Da-Hye cannot be left out when discussing young adult fiction. The series has been beloved by not only teenagers but also adults for 8 years since the first edition in 2013. It is a coming-of-age fantasy adventure about a boy that goes on an adventure to search for the cat moon that vanishes all of a sudden. The book features stories about the cat moon in the night sky which was the only place Noah could rely on when he would feel frustrated by being unable to achieve his dreams while he helps others achieve theirs. Noah and a girl with the eyes of the cat moon he met under the cat moon hill share moments both happy and sad as they look at the cat moon, becoming friends, lovers, and a family. However, one day she disappears into thin air, and Noah wanders throughout the universe searching for her. The intriguing storyline surrounding Noah’s adventure triggers readers’ imagination.

 

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Almond, Dollagoot Dream Department Store, Snowball

 

 

The popularity of Dollagoot Dream Department Store (Sam & Parkers) published in a physical book after the mega-hit record of its e-book published through a new crowdfunding strategy continues to soar. As a full-length novel written by newly debuted writer Lee Mi-Ye, it is a representative young adult fiction that continues to be praised by teenagers and those in their 20s. It is a compelling fantasy featuring the stories of the main character Penny, who works at Dollagoot Dream Department Store, managing a dream inventory and moving bottles filled with emotions in the dream storage.
Full-length novel Snowball (Changbi), written by Park So-Young, who won the grand prize at the 1st Changbi X KakaoPage Young Adult Genre Literature Award, has drawn a sensational reaction from readers as soon as it was published. The award has been news as it was co-hosted by Changbi, the front runner of young adult fiction in Korea, and KakaoPage, a no.1 genre literature platform. The story takes place from the viewpoint of Jeon Cho-Bam, an ordinary 16-year-old boy who works at a human resource center, living outside the “Snowball.” In a world with an average temperature of minus 41 degrees Celsius, the warm dome “Snowball” is a place of envy for all. The book Snowball describes teenagers striving to keep their human nature and ego through the main character Jeon Cho-Bam who walks step by step towards his dream in life. The book, which excellently expresses the troubles and conflicts of young adult fiction, gives sympathy to many people.
Young adult fiction captivates the minds of adults, let alone teenagers, immersing them into the fun of reading books through imaginative stories that you cannot experience in daily life. It also provides profound insight and enlightenment to teenagers and adults who still need to grow. Also, through consolation and encouragement, it is steadily expanding its spectrum by filling the emotions of all people who suffer from growing pains with the themes of dreams, growth, and adventure.

 

 


Written by Kim Young-Ihm

 

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Kim Young-Ihm

#Young Adult#YA#Fantasy#K-content
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