Novels leap from Web to silver screenThe mass appeal of the MBC drama “Rooftop Cat,” based on an online story of an unmarried man and woman cohabiting, has brought Internet-based prose into the limelight.
The first film based on an online novel was “Toemarok” (The Soul Guardians) in 1998. With 700,000 viewers, it showed online fiction’s commercial potential. But “My Sassy Girl,” which drew 4.9 million viewers and ebullient responses from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, took it to another level. “My Tutor Friend,” filmed earlier this year, pulled in 3.2 million viewers, virtually assuring online novels’ permanence. Filming for 10 online novels is now under way. The JoongAng Ilbo spoke with four popular authors, whose online stories will be filmed.
Lee Hyun-soo: People around me are forcing me to treat them. They think I raked in big bucks with my novel and its copyright, but it’s not true. The money for the copyright, 10 million to 15 million won ($8,500 to $12,750) is split with the publishing company. After sharing, it’s not big money. And my books don’t sell well these days.
Na Young-joon: I feel sorry for the publishing company. People think that when an online novel is broadcast on TV the authors collect a lot of money.
Kim Yu-ri: People pay attention to me because my novel “Rooftop Cat” is being televised. But when I talk to those people, they end up asking my income. Honestly, it is quite unpleasant. If I made some money, I would not feel that bad. But it’s nominal.
Lee Won-young: Online authors experience fierce competition. Hundreds of other writers’ works pour onto the Internet daily. We wrestle with them to get readers’ attention. Some people criticize online novels for the dominance of romantic comedy in their content. There is a realistic reason for this: Readers do not relish serious stories, but they respond immediately to humor and light-hearted fare. That’s why many authors stick to stimulating subject matter.
Na Young-joon: Young guys, who dominate the Web, identify themselves with the story. Because we target young readers, romance is the preferred topic of an Internet novel.
Lee Hyun-soo: How hard it is to live these days! Many young university graduates are struggling to land a job. They get through enough hard times in reality. The serious and gloomy story, they avoid.
Kim Yu-ri: Personally, I prefer the mystery and horror genre. However, comedy’s strong point is that it can approach serious matters in an easygoing way. “Rooftop Cat’s” success is an example.
Na Young-joon: Once an author gains some measure of fame, other authors start backbiting through the Internet.
Lee Hyun-soo: There are now many author-training Internet sites. They try to cultivate their own authors. So when a writer from another site gets popular, they stir up rumors.
Lee won-young: I think the Internet author should behave with civility. I don’t comment on reader’s letters or opinions on the Internet. If I do, they interfere in my private concerns. Quite a lot of authors quit this job because of that.
Lee Hyun-soo: When some readers sent me gifts on my birthday, I was pleased.
Lee Won-young: I didn’t intend to become an author at first. I joined a literature lover’s online community. After I read others’ stories, I tried it. And then I ended up publishing a novel.
Na Young-joon: My story is aimed at the 30-something office worker. When I meet fans, we just drink alcohol.
by Lee Young-ki