September 16, 2020 08:40
Lee Nak-joon is a practicing ear, nose and throat doctor but somehow also finds time to be a runaway success on YouTube and as a web novelist.
Translated roughly as "Trauma Center: Golden Hour," the novel series about an emergency care unit achieved 15 million cumulative downloads on Naver and was turned into a webtoon before finally being published in paperback.
"I wanted to show that ICUs in Korea depend on the sacrifices of individual doctors, and that they can't be sustained without these superheroes," Lee (35) told the Chosun Ilbo last month.
Lee began writing web novels four years ago. "Web novels are given the cold shoulder right away if they're not interesting, so it's a jungle out there," he said. "I felt a huge sense of accomplishment because I'd started from the bottom and saw readers numbers gradually tick up."
At first Lee wrote quickly in his spare time, but now he makes more money from his online work and was able to cut down on his working hours as a doctor. But he remains a workhorse and spends eight hours a day, three days a week writing the novel.
"Like a machine, I write a set amount over a set period," he said. "I think I was cut out to be a web novelist, because I've never been stressed out about writing."
He also runs a YouTube channel. It offers bite-sized medical facts and has a relatively modest 650,000 subscribers, which was still enough for a big offline event last year.
"I expected subscribers to be health-conscious older people, so I was surprised to learn how many youngsters are interested," he recalls.
"I think there is a tremendous amount of interest out there about the field of medicine, but there aren't enough people who can explain things in a comprehensible way," he said. "I hope more people can improve their medical knowledge, and I will try to help them whether it is through a novel or social media."
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