November 13, 2009 07:22
Choi Sook-hee's status in the Korean publishing industry is perhaps unique in that she is able to both draw and write.
Her books are characterized by warm, subtle pictures and simple stories with a profound message, making them popular not only among children, the main target audience, but also among adults.
Choi's book "It's Okay" rewrote the history of illustrated books in Korea. Published in 2005, "It's Okay" has sold over 200,000 copies, and was among the top 10 best-selling children's book for over two years. It was listed in the reading textbook for first graders in elementary school this year, and was sold to Taiwan and Thailand.
Animals appear frequently in Choi's books. Cats, ants, hedgehogs, ostriches and the 12 animals from Asian mythology appear on every page. To Choi, they represent different sizes, shapes, dietary habits and characteristics, and thus the individuality of each person.
"You could say it's a human-centered view, but I do believe humans are creatures that have the different qualities of all the other animals in one body," she says. "Do I like animals? Of course I do. But I can't keep pets. I love them so much that I spend all day playing with them. It's just impossible to do other things when they're around."
It takes her over a year to finish one of her deceptively simple books. At each stage, from brainstorming to writing, sketching, proofreading and illustrating, Choi puts the emphasis on looking at the world from children's point of view. She often reads books on child psychology and development to get rid of her adult way of thinking.
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