Campus Reporting
A New Syndrome In and Out of Cyberspace
Lee Jeong-min Reporter  |
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승인 2004.09.01  00:00:00
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리


Editor's Note



A COMMON girl began to write a fiction on her Internet cafe. Everyday many people access her Internet cafe, and the members of her cafe are close to eight hundred thousand. Her fictions were published, and cinematized. More than 1 million people bought the book, and the audience of the film exceeded 2 million. A common girl become famous at an eye blink. She is recognized as one of important contributor to make online novel syndrome.
   Nowadays, online novel gains a great popularity. However, some people question the online novel on the matter of language use and whether or not it is literature. Regardless those controversies, it is true that online novel has become a key code of cultural trend in this society.
   This month's "Cover Story" is about online novel; present state, effect and possibility as a cultural content. Let's jump into the trend of a new online culture.

 By Yoon Hyoung-jung, 

"YOU ARE responsible for me! -_-♨"
"What? ㅠ.,ㅠ"
"You are the first one who kissed my lips!-_-^ Be responsible for me you freak!!"
">_<lol, holy cow man, how the heck can I believe that? Ha ha ha  ...>_<"
This is a piece of writing on the Internet. Most sentences are relatively short, and made up of simple words. In addition, they consist of lots of emoticons(smileys) and slang. The writers often break the rules of grammar and express emotions with signs. These days, people call these articles "online novel". Online novel is a hot issue not only online but also offline.

From a piece of writing to a syndrome

   The start of writing novels on Internet sites began at the end of the 1990's. "Fanfic", a compound word of fan and fiction, was the beginning, and it meant fiction written by fans of popular celebrities or works. In Korea, the fans of H.O.T., a famous male band, began to spread fanfics. After that, the formation and development of "online novel" can be said to have been much indebted to fanfic. The online novel gradually won popularity over the Internet users, increasing in number of specialized writers, fan-sites and homepages. Along with the increase in popularity, anti-online novel sites also came into existence.
   Online novel is not limited to the cyberspace: it advances into the off-line market as well through books, movies, and television dramas. "My Sassy Girl (2001)", "My Tutor Friend (2003)", "Cat of Penthouse" and " Temptation of Wolves (2004)" are examples. Online novel has also become an important axis of the pop culture. Especially, "The Guy Was Dandy", a famous online novel by a writer, Guiyeoni, having a fan base of over 1 million, sold over one million and 2 hundred thousands copies. Moreover, she became a hero of a movement called, "Guiyeoni syndrome".


Development through the Internet

   The boom of online novel has prospered with the growth of Internet culture. The formation of personal places that people can use freely together, combined with the fact that people have a calling for writing out their thoughts and replying to others' writing were able to bring about the advance of online novels.
   Furthermore, the development of online novel is affected by people using the economical merit of the Internet. The Internet is a very useful tool for people who have studied since they were young, but do not have enough money to spare for literature. That is to say, the birth and development of literature on the Internet means availability of literature without economic difficulty, which facilitates the spread of literature to the public.







Sharply divided Opinions

   The interest in online novels is very high, and the opinions related to the online novel boom are also really various. The teens are the main users of online novels, so people treat them as matters connected with teenagers. Some say that because almost all novels follow the cultural codes of teens, it can satisfy their own desire and help the formation of youth culture, especially for teenagers. Though the stories act as an emotional escape for teenagers afflicted with an entrance examination, they also cause worry about having a bad effect over susceptibility of the teens because the contents of most fictional works are false and unreal, such as "Cinderella Complex". A great portion of the other works also beautify things yearned for by the teens obscurely, like violence, drinking, and sex.
   People also discuss the effect online novels have on the use of language. There are many smileys disjointed Internet language and slang. In case of smileys, it is convenient and easy to use when delivering emotions, but on the other hand, it may cause a generation gap between the young and the old, because they have a different understanding of the use of smileys. The characters use expressions such as, "ㅠㅠ ㅠㅠ ㅠㅠ ㅠㅠ... Oh my god! ㅜ.ㅜ" Although people who do not know smileys cannot understand that sentence, those who know smileys can comprehend the character's feeling without long word. In addition, people are anxious about the destruction of Korean language and literature due to the disjointed Internet language, and slang.
   Taking a step forward, there are also contrasting opinions about the influence on the literary and publishing field. This is a problem with the literature's popularization. Online novels are referred to as the public literature, because most online novels are written by the public at their own accord. The contrasting opinions exist with some saying that the boom comes from pure public power, while others insist that the online novel boom is only a condition begun by a commercial stratagem of the publishing companies.

Emoticons (Smileys)


^-^      Smiling
ㅠ.,ㅠ  Crying
-_-;     Embarrassed, 
           Scratching one's head
>_<     Screaming or Ouch!
-_-♨   Angry
o_o      Surprising

Effort for the better future

   As the interest in online novel boom almost reaches the climax, there are also various opinions being aroused. While some think that this boom is only a temporary trend, others say that it will come to stay as a part of cultural and literary genre. Although the judgment is uncertain and the boom may remain only as a trend, people in various positions should strive to develop the writing as a recognized culture.
   In order to make online novel a culture with quality, the writers should try to improve words and contents, considering its effect on the readers and society. Online novel is often rated high for its freshness and vividness in the contents of a story. However, it needs more than these to be valued as great pieces of work. The novel having good quality may be guaranteed not only with popularity, but also recognition from the public. "My Sassy Girl" is an example valued as a cultural content for as long as five years. The fiction was cinematized and became a famous movie in Korea, and also succeeded in New York as well as in Asia.
   Although the writer's endeavor is very important, it is of no use without the effort of the public. "If the public is not concerned about the online novel at all or accept it thoughtlessly, there is no choice for the boom but to pass as only a passing phenomenon. Readers are also responsible for settling this trend as a culture," said Jang Hyun-sook, the system manager of Iyagibada, an online novel site.
   The publishing world has to work towards the growth of the online novel culture, too. It should not issue works only for profit. Excessive commercial greed without consideration for literature may disturb the successful establishment of the online novel culture. It can be explained by the fact that there are over two hundred books issued, but only a few are making profits.
   To find and cultivate online novels of good quality, an official system between the Internet and offline production is necessary. Nowadays, most publishing companies invest in profitable fictions rather than the works of excellent quality. Naturally, publishers should take the quality of works into consideration, however, the absence of the official system is also a problem. "To gain good novels through public subscription is one of the solutions. It enables works to be selected carefully before publishing and cinematizing. In addition, the system between the Internet and offline production will allow people to experience whatever they want to select: a fiction on the web, a published novel, or a cinematized work," said Jang.

Time to talk about online novels

   The territory of online novels is already being magnified out to society from the Internet, and the concern about the novel is absurd. While parties consenting and opposing online novels are confronting each other vigorously, online novels have already become a trend all around the world. The translations of "The Guy Was Dandy" and "Temptation of Wolves" have already been published in China, Thailand and Taiwan. Japan and Germany are also planning to import these novels and movies. Of course, Guiyeoni became a celebrity in China this year, and her works are bestsellers in the Chinese literary market. The word "online novel" became a cultural code, and now it makes people enthusiastic both online and offline. At the same time, there are apprehensions regarding the rapid increase of scale before construction of a firm base. Now, for the development of online novel trend toward a more expansive culture, first of all, people should strive to know what the online novel is and build the foundation to be recognized as one of the literary genre. Now is the time to acknowledge about the online novel itself and the effect of the online novel syndrome.




Jeong Jeong-ran
Pres. of Hwangmae Publisher, Co.

Q: What made you publish online novels?
I found that readers have turned away from the existing publishing world, and I wondered what the reasons were. Especially, I was worried about teenagers who do not read. At that time, I came to know Guiyeoni, and I decided to publish her novels because her works were interesting and attractive compared to the other online novels. And that thought was right, online novels gain in public favor along with a success of Guiyeoni works.
Q: What comes to us the publishing and success of online novel?
First of all, the boom of online novel signifies the readers who are tired of the typical literary style. The prevalence of the online novels shows that the readers' literary tendancies are amplified and non-mainstram literature is possilbe to success. Above all, the publishing means that anyone can become producers of literature, as well as consumers.
Q: What do you think about the future of the online novels in publishing circles?
Online novel genre will be surely set in Korean publishing world some day. Of course, the quality and base will be good. Not only in Korea, but also in many countries, people like the novels of this genre. Therefore, the future prospect of publishing is very bright even in other countries.















Chung Sung-ill
Film critic

Q: What are the reasons and meanings of cinematizing online novels?
The answer is simple. Many online novels are picturized because they are profitable. Seeing the meaning under the situation, adults want to know about the thoughts of the teens. Therefore, producers use online novels as a means of learning the teenagers' thoughts. That is, movies having online novel as an original are the specialized works for the teens.
Q: What do you think about the movies made from online novels?
In this summer, I saw two movies made from online novels, "Temptation of Wolves (2004)" and "The Guy Was Dandy". Frankly speaking, I was disappointed on movies. I expected that I could see the cultural communication between teenagers and adults. However, adults could not understand and give the young advices. The movies were merely used as a way to gain financial profit rather than cultural interchange.
Q: Do you think the movies made from online novels can develop into a form of culture?
I do not think like that at all, and so do most people in the movie field. I think the movement is only a passing trend. Like gangster movies, the popularity will decrease within a year. Although the movies are exported to many countries, it still not a part of the movie culture and would be hard to be so in the future as well. What I only expect is that the adults and the teens can have a better understanding of each other through these movies. 




ON AUG. 14, the newspapers reported that spectators who saw a movie "Temptation of Wolves" exceeded two millions. Together with popular favor of the movie, the interest on online novels is also rising. The extent of concern about the novels is very surprising, especially I was startled when I heard of her popularity in China. When I met a translator who translates the works of Guiyeoni into Chinese, she said that Guiyeoni was very popular in China and had the fan meeting at no less than seven cities. The translator seemed to be marveled at the boom of the online novels in China. After hearing the news, the fact that online novels are spread around the world, I thought that online novels will be able to one of the Korean wave. I came to know more about online novel and the boom, and I realized the importance of that. Now, I hope people who were not interested in online novel can become intimate with the novels, think and talk about the online novels through this article. 

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