There is still discrimination against oppression, and alienation of women while at the same time there are social structures and conventions that maintain it, which cannot be easily broken. Some people pluck up the courage to support women's free choice by trying to knock down these structures. Their solidarity makes women stronger. Here is a cartoon artist who reveals the problems related to women's human rights in our society through cartoons. SMT met the cartoon artist 'Il' who is loved by her readers for her fresh insight and attractive drawing style which may further change the world little by little.
Before we start the interview, please introduce yourself to Sookmyungians.
Hi, I'm the cartoon artist 'Il' who published <Days After Throwing Off the Corset>, <B's Diary> and <A Giraffe's Piquant World>. I'm currently serializing Instatoon on Instagram @offthe_0931 and expressing my opinion through my cartoons. Nice to meet you.
Starting with <Days After Throwing Off the Corset>, you then published <B's Diary> and <A Giraffe's Piquant World>. Please briefly introduce each book.
<Days After Throwing Off the Corset> is about 'us who go corset-free' that started serialization in the summer of 2018. It was my first work, and many people sympathized with it and liked it, so it was my most memorable work. Also, <B's Diary> was a spin-off of <Days After Throwing Off the Corset> and brings up a 'non-maritalism' issue more deeply. I wanted to deal with the contradictions of marriage in Korean society and how the patriarchy traps women. Finally, <A Giraffe's Piquant World> is not a complete fictional creation, but a work that focuses on my story. It is in a light Instatoon format that humorously reveals the awkward points of our society and expresses my experiences and the importance of solidarity. I think it has the liveliest atmosphere among the three works.
What made you decide to create your first work, <Days After Throwing Off the Corset>?
The spring of 2018 was when my corset-free life began. Upon the new semester at university, I resolutely cut my hair. Due to that, I realized that people like me could be an object of ridicule. I created <Days After Throwing Off the Corset> to comfort us when we are having a hard time psychologically. I wanted to give readers a cool feeling of exhilaration and empathy by drawing what I felt after taking off the corset. In addition, I wanted to convey that our choices and decisions are never wrong.
While <Days After Throwing Off the Corset> focuses on taking off the external corset, <B's Diary> goes one step further and deals with the issue of 'non-maritalism,' which has served as a psychological and mental corset for women. Is there a reason why you wrote that story as a sequel?
The most firmly supporting tool of the patriarchy is the marriage system. Perhaps non-maritalism will damage the patriarchy more than the corset-free movement. So, I wanted to deal with that topic and this is why I created <B's Diary>.
<A Giraffe's Piquant World> records the path you have taken as a feminist. What is the unique characteristic of <A Giraffe's Piquant World> that is different from your previous works?
I think the distinctive characteristics of <A Giraffe's Piquant World> is that I myself actually appear as a character. My presence was not seen in previous works, but this is an essay-type cartoon in which the cartoon artist appears as the main character and delivers messages directly to the reader. So, I think it is meaningful to convey that the main character's talk about social problems is not just a story in a book, but a vivid reality around everyone.
<Days After Throwing Off the Corset> achieved the highest sponsorship amount in the book category of a crowdfunding site, and <B's Diary> has recorded 2.23 million cumulative views. You are loved by countless readers, and what was the most memorable response from your readers?
It was when I finished the serialization of <Days After Throwing Off the Corset> and was preparing for <B's Diary>. I ran into a reader who said to me, "Don't be too impatient. Don't feel pressured." She was the first person who told me not to feel pressured, though that was the first time we met. When I reflected on myself after hearing that, I saw myself suffering from the compulsion to be as successful as I had been with my previous work. I'm still grateful to that reader for giving me the most helpful advice.
In the work, you deal with the idea of being corset-free, non-maritalism, and solidarity of women, which pinpoints the sense of incompatibility between reality and ideals regarding women's rights and expresses new perspectives. Do you have your own way of writing this?
I try to think critically without getting used to the dangerous reality for women. If I am verbally abused or get discriminated against in some situations, I would rather use it as an opportunity for me. Then, when I think of an idea, I write and refine it.
Please tell me if there is a line that you remember the most among the characters in your work.
A line from <Days After Throwing Off the Corset> is the most impressive: "Sorrow for a short time and rage for a long time. Anger itself is an individual revolution, so be relieved that you are angry." It's the line that the most readers liked, but I think it also captures the emotion of the character, Roa. Furthermore, I think it implicitly captures the path I have taken as a feminist.
In your work, there are many scenarios that show your experience. Among them, if there is any episode that you hope the readers never miss, please tell us.
In <B's Diary>, there is a scene in which Jeong Dowoon, Do Suri's boyfriend, hits her hand saying that her fingerprints are on his new car. This actually happened to me. In time, I realized that there was more than one man who would do such a thing. Why on earth is a car more important than a lover? Is it really worth it to be close to him, who prefers to strike a person's hand than to clean a car? That's what I thought. I described it very briefly in the book, but I hope many people don't miss this part.
What is something that has impressed you or influenced your work?
I think I couldn't choose just one because I have been strongly influenced by the creations of many people. All women's experiences and stories, and works created by women have helped me grow up. Mostly, things that are not outdated boring concepts, have definitely had a strong influence on me.
After throwing off the corset in the wake of the 2016 murder at Gangnam Station, you said that you felt helpless in the unchanged world at first, but have eventually found a way to be happy as a feminist over time. Can you tell me what that is and how you found it?
Doing what you love longer than being angry is the way I found it. As I mentioned earlier, there is a line in <Days After Throwing Off Corsets> which says, "Sorrow briefly and rage for a long time," but I actually want to tell you to love for a longer time than to rage. It may seem a little childish, but the object of love I'm talking about here is myself, my daily life, and my life as a woman. Even if I'm discouraged by the harsh reality, I get the strength to get up again when I slowly think of the things surrounding me and take a rest.
What have the seven years from 2016 when you learned about feminism to now been like, and what do you feel has grown or changed in you when comparing before and after you published your work?
It was a time that changed my whole life. It's been seven years since I discovered the most valuable thing, and it was the seven years of collecting only the least regrettable moments in my short life. I was proud of myself for completing a piece of work. Also, I realized that I had clearly conveyed the topic that I was trying to say to the reader and that there were women who had changed because of me. So I gained a lot of confidence. I witnessed us struggling as best we could, found myself locked within the patriarchy without realizing it, tried to get rid of it, and finally fell in love with myself who could unite with women.
Many students are eager to study feminism, but they don't know where and how to start. Please let me know if you have any recommendations for students who want to study feminism for the first time.
If you're interested in feminism, it's ideal to look at books about it and reflect on your own situation. How did I find my way to feminism? Has there really been no discrimination in my life? Haven't I even witnessed it? Where can I find the answers to the frustration I feel? If you constantly explore these questions and look for clues, you will find the answer you want.
Please let us know if you have any future plans for your work.
I want to focus more on my Instatoon on Instagram from now on. I've been thinking about a new type of webtoon serialization, but I'm still only in the planning stage. I'll show you various sides of me. Please look forward to it.
Lastly, are there any final words you would like to leave for Sookmyungians?
I want to tell you that you're already doing well enough. We've experienced a lot. I'd like to thank all of you who do your best.
- 2019, <Days After Throwing Off Corsets> Published
- 2021, <B's Diary> Published
- 2022, "Guerrilla" Online Lecture <A Story That Can Catch Popularity>
- 2022, <A Giraffe's Piquant World> Published
Kim Lee Jiwon / Society Section Reporter
Ju Kim Jiyeong / Reporter