Comic artist takes on ancient history

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Comic artist takes on ancient history

The famous comic book artist of “The Mercenary Team of Fear” and “The Ring of Hell,” Lee Hyun-se, 49, has taken a break from his usual adult fare to publish a comic book on Korean history for children.
It is the first time Mr. Lee has created a colorful comic book aimed at educating children. The 10-volume series is titled, “Taking an Appropriate Look at Korean History.”
“People are wondering why a cartoonist of violent and adult comic books is publishing an educational comic book for children,” Mr. Lee said in a press conference for the book’s launch.
“I wanted to let our children know the details of our true history,” he said. “The Han Dynasty in China and Gojoseon [a confederation of walled cities] in Korea existed at the same time, but while they consider the Han Dynasty to have been a historical entity, they view Gojoseon as a legendary state whose very existence is even suspect.”
Mr. Lee said his sense of history came from working on “The Legends of Heaven,” which led to a lawsuit over the freedom of speech.
“The historical period of Balhae and the Three States is a proud time if we look at it closely. I wanted to tell children about their history,” Mr. Lee said.
In the history comic series, the two main characters of “The Mercenary Team of Fear,” Kachi and Eamji, travel to the past and experience historical events for themselves.
Kkachi and Eamji, however, appear less threatening than in the previous comic books. Mr. Lee used fine-point markers to draw the characters, adding that he thought a softer look would be more appealing.
Elected chairman of the Korea Cartoonists Association in January last year, Mr. Lee noted, “I have never asked for pity in my life, but these days I meet assembly representatives and ask for help from the government.” Mr. Lee wants to create a Web magazine in which cartoonists can publish their work.
“Comic books are available for rent at off-line book shops, but this has reached its limit. Bookstores no longer stock comic books and online comic book publishing isn’t profitable.”
Mr. Lee is going to take a break from work when the serial publication of his comics on Daily Zoom and Sports Seoul ends this March. He said he plans to reflect upon his work.
Some might say he deserves a break, but his wife is worried about the couple’s finances. Mr. Lee’s rest, however, might not last very long.
“I hope to work on comics about world history and Korean history’s part in it someday,” he said.

by Lee Ji-young
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