Jo Ju-Heon Creates a New World

기사승인 [400호] 2023.03.10  


   Being nominated to the New Year’s Literature (NYL) list and winning the top literary prize is meaningful for writers in Korea. To those not yet acknowledged by the professional writing community, a NYL nomination is a pivotal recognition of your work. Jo Ju-heon, a former student in the Department of Creative Literary Writing (CLW) at Dankook University (DKU) was nominated in 2023 to the NYL list for his novel “Self-Control" by the broadcaster Korea Bulgyo News (KBN). DKU’s CLW department has had students nominated to the list for the last 5 years.

▲ Jo Ju-Heon Who Is Elected in the New Year’s Literature by the Korean Bulgyo News (Photo from Dankook University)

   ‘Self-Control’ is a story of a man brainwashed through meditation. The story is loosely related to Buddhist ideology in that the protagonist “Jung-woo” uses Buddhist doctrines as a form of psychotherapy brainwashing the story’s main character “In-seong”. Even though Buddhist ideology wasn’t portrayed favorably in this plot, it played a key role in making an impression on the reader. This novel is written from the perspective of the main character and the reader follows along as he evolves from a rational being to a more emotional person. This change in the main character’s personality makes the plot more vivid. The novel is a short story, but it is nicely organized despite dealing with many issues.

1. What is the biggest impact this nomination has had on your subsequent literary work?

   I realized the significance of revision. These days, I am determined to write creative literary works without fear motivating me. If I revise my work, I can write anything and review it as often as I like. I think novels are impossible to complete without constant revision.

2. We heard you dealt with the topic of ‘gaslighting’ in ‘Self-Control’. When writing this short story, what sensitive elements did you pay attention to?

   I was always anxious writing pieces of literature. ‘Self-Control’ was a sensitive subject and had a suggestive aspect that I thought wasn’t suitable for the NYL. However, author Hae Yi-soo, my tutor, said successful literary works must be more extraordinary. This conversation gave me the confidence I needed to continue with my story.

3. Where did you get the direct inspiration for writing this work?

   A memory of almost a decade ago passed by in a moment. I knew someone similar to the main character 'Jong-woo' in the novel. I had an urge to write about him right away. However, he was not as vicious as my character Jong-woo. I dramatized him more and to make my novel special.

▲ 2023 New Year’s Literature Award Ceremony in Korean Bulgyo News (Photo from Korean Bulgyo News)

4. What is your favorite scene in the novel?

   I never thought about that, but if I had to choose one it would be the scene where 'In-seong' drinks ice water in a shadowy half-underground room. He was already suspicious of Jong-Woo at that time, nevertheless he texted him to say he will take the lecture, not fully realizing that it was a trap.

5. What message did you want to convey with this work?

   Jong-woo exploits innocent young people to satisfy his desires. Unfortunately, there are many adults who are intelligent and cunning, just like him. This novel mirrors life in that it is not possible to avoid all traps, no matter how aware you made feel.

6. Do you have any new literary works planned?

   I’m more at ease with my next literary work. Author Hae Yi-soo said, “An author isn’t a person who writes good sentences.” I can empathize with this idea. An author is an architect who makes plans and carefully stacks the bricks of sentences together in a meaningful way. I completely agree with this idea.

7. Please share some words of wisdom to advice those who aspire to be novelists.

   Never be afraid of pushing your ideas forward. If you remain passive, you will not fully develop. Instead, constantly ask yourself questions. Naturally, the characters inside you will respond. These habits will help you develop the final form of your story.

   These days, the content people mostly consume is videos and music rather than novels. Some people consider novels to be an old medium of storytelling and even find them boring. However, they are not. ‘Self-Control’ addresses religion, through engaging narration, an interesting story, and a vivid imagination that cannot be expressed through a simple video or music. With work like this available for you to enjoy, we look forward to Jo Ju-heon’s next novel.

윤희원, 김주연, 정영훈

<저작권자 © The Dankook Herald 무단전재 및 재배포금지>




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