Catch up with Yumi and all her cells at this special exhibition

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Catch up with Yumi and all her cells at this special exhibition

The main photo zone at the entrance of the "Yumi's Cells" special exhibition held at the Ground Seesaw in Jongno District, Central Seoul.[MEDIA & ART]

The main photo zone at the entrance of the "Yumi's Cells" special exhibition held at the Ground Seesaw in Jongno District, Central Seoul.[MEDIA & ART]

“The story is boring. Stop trying to grind a millstone that won’t budge.” 
 
Webtoon author Lee Dong-geun's wife doesn't pull her punches.
 
Harsh though her critique may seem, it was that throwaway comment that formed the basis for Lee's successful webtoon series "Yumi's Cells."
 
The idea that Lee was subconsciously and pointlessly "grinding a millstone that won't budge" sent him down a rabbit hole of ideas about what else goes on inside our heads. "Yumi's Cells" a webtoon about the living, moving, talking cells inside a character's brain, was born.
 
This is how the popular webtoon came to life in 2015. As one of the most beloved webtoon series on Naver, it has accumulated 3 billion views.  
 
“Yumi’s Cells” tells the a story of an ordinary woman in her 30s named Kim Yumi and the 200 different cells living inside her brain controlling her behavior in her daily life. In Yumi’s brain, different cells talk to one another to decide what action she should take. When Yumi has too many concerns and can’t get to sleep, for example, Sleep Cell appears and sings a lullaby. When the Hunger Cell appears and makes Yumi eat, Fashion Cell tries to intervene and encourage her to concentrate on her looks.
 
The photo zone at the "Yumi's Cells" exhibition shows various cells living inside Yumi's brain, including Hunger Cell, who constantly eats, and Sleep Cell, who sings a lullaby. [MEDIA & ART]

The photo zone at the "Yumi's Cells" exhibition shows various cells living inside Yumi's brain, including Hunger Cell, who constantly eats, and Sleep Cell, who sings a lullaby. [MEDIA & ART]

Winning the President’s Award at the 2018 Korean Content Awards hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Lee became one of the most successful webtoon authors in Korea by portraying realistic situations and showing how Yumi and her cells make decisions that many readers have experienced themselves.
 
The webtoon series is set to end this year, but a flurry of news stories about possible television dramas and animated films suggest it won't be going away for good. In the meantime, fans can visit a special exhibition about the webtoon that kicked off on July 15 at the Ground Seesaw in Jongno District, central Seoul.
 
“This is what the inside of Yumi’s brain would look like in real life,” said Lee, describing the exhibition.
 
In the webtoon, each cell in Yumi’s brain lives by the mantra: “We live for Yumi and die for Yumi!” Apparently, a lot of fans do as well. In the five years since the webtoon was released, fans have been leaving questions and comments for Yumi and her cells.
 
These questions had always gone unanswered, but not anymore. A special corner of the exhibition offers answers to some of the most burning fan questions. 
 
Visitors can also become one of Yumi’s cells. There is a kinetic installation — a millstone, just like the one that’s in Yumi’s brain — where visitors can grind along with the other cells. There is also a sandbag that looks like Yumi’s ex-boyfriend, Babi, so that readers who were infuriated by him while reading the webtoon can have a go at punching him as hard as they want.

 
A kinetic installation of a millstone where visitors can try grinding the millstone along with Yumi's cells. [KIM YEON-AH]

A kinetic installation of a millstone where visitors can try grinding the millstone along with Yumi's cells. [KIM YEON-AH]

The exhibition is still attractive for new fans as well, providing detailed information about each character through key moments in “Yumi’s Cells” using infographics and illustrations.
 
A short video of Yumi's story is played inside Yumi's room using a projection mapping technique. [MEDIA & ART]

A short video of Yumi's story is played inside Yumi's room using a projection mapping technique. [MEDIA & ART]

Visitors can watch a five-minute video, which uses Jaurim’s “Something Good” (2008) as background music, that sums up Yumi’s story. Visitors can skim through almost 500 episodes that are currently uploaded, like a huge trailer for the webtoon.  
 
"We made a five-minute music video that shows Yumi’s growth in her 30s in balancing her work and love," said Kim Chul-sik, a director at Media & Art, the exhibition organizer.
  
Visitors can take a short survey to find out what their prime cell — the cell that plays the most influential role in their brain — is. For instance, if you are a foodie, your prime cell will no doubt be the Hunger Cell. They can also vote for up to three cells among some 200 to be listed on the daily ranking board displayed in the center of the exhibition hall.  
 
The photo zone at the "Yumi's Cells" exhibition shows Naughty Cell giving a lecture called, "Yumi is an adult," explaining how to hold hands and how to kiss. [MEDIA & ART]

The photo zone at the "Yumi's Cells" exhibition shows Naughty Cell giving a lecture called, "Yumi is an adult," explaining how to hold hands and how to kiss. [MEDIA & ART]

Kim stressed that the exhibition is for all those people in their 20s and 30s who share similar concerns to Yumi.
 
“I think Yumi represents a Korean woman in her 30s. I hope this exhibition provides a chance to learn about oneself and that ‘I’ am the main character in my life,” said Kim.
 
"Webtoons are big Korean exports as everyone knows," said Ji Sung-wook, CEO of Media & Art. "That’s why bringing a webtoon in the exhibition industry is meaningful.
 
“We specifically chose Lee’s work because we wanted to present an exhibition that everyone can empathize [with] in their daily lives.”  
 
Since an average of 30,000 viewers read each episode of the English version of “Yumi’s Cell” uploaded every Wednesday on Line Webtoon, “Yumi’s Cells” special exhibition is attracting great interest among fans from all over the world.
 
"Currently, exporting the 'Yumi's Cells' special exhibition is under discussion, but nothing has been confirmed regarding the exhibition due to the prolonged Covid-19 [outbreak],” Ji added.  
 
BY KIM YEON-AH  [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]  
 
The main poster for the "Yumi's Cells" special exhibition, which will run until March 14 next year at Ground Seesaw in central Seoul. [MEDIA & ART]

The main poster for the "Yumi's Cells" special exhibition, which will run until March 14 next year at Ground Seesaw in central Seoul. [MEDIA & ART]

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, the "Yumi's Cells” exhibition requires an online reservation. Reservations are available on a 20-minute basis with a limit of 50 visitors per session. The exhibition will run until March 14 next year at Ground Seesaw in central Seoul. Tickets cost 9,000 won on weekdays and 12,000 won on weekends. The gallery is closed on Mondays. It opens from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit www.groundseesaw.co.kr or call 1522-1796 for more information.  

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