MANILA -- South Korean author and illustrator Kim Soo Hyun is in Manila to meet the Filipino readers who sought comfort and healing through her books “I Decided to Live as Me” and “Being Comfortable Without Effort.”
“Other than its pretty visuals, it was embedded to me that because it made me stop doubting myself. I came to understand that you need to be understood by everyone,“ Mikee Maralit, who read the former title, shared.
Kim is slated to hold her very first book-signing event in the country on Saturday, September 16, as part of the festivities of the Manila International Book Fair.
While self-help books often attempt to motivate readers to transform their lives and push themselves to be exceptional achievers, the Korean best-sellers encourage individuals to proudly, sincerely, and unapologetically be themselves.
Each photo essay in the book was boldly drawn from Kim’s personal experience.
“On social media everyone wants to show how shiny they are but on the other hand, we forget that they also have their weakness,” the author explained.
Kim admitted baring her vulnerabilities for the public was mentally and emotionally challenging initially. However, she does not regret the brave move as it has become her “most fulfilling life experience” to date.
“Of course, I feel ashamed to show my vulnerability. But at same time I very much feel relieved to show how weak and vulnerable I am,” Kim said. “My book has helped many others. This is feeding my soul.”
Publishing her personal experience also served as an embodiment of the core themes of her pieces— accepting and taking pride in oneself and journey, which includes various struggles and flaws.
“I hope they will find common emotions. They can relate to my stories and help them. This is where I get inspired to write personal stories. When I show my weakness, people will hopefully find comfort and find self-acceptance too,” Kim shared.
She continued: “When I first wrote this, I was in my 20s going to my 30s. My writing at that stage was when I was making decisions and resolutions in my life. Writing this book made me focus in myself more and to be more formed person. It has been seven years since I wrote this book but it still fills me and makes me think positive about my life.”
After selling over a million copies worldwide, the titles have undoubtedly helped readers from all walks of life navigate through their struggles as well as inspire them to love themselves more while doing so.
BTS’ Jeon Jungkook, for instance, was spotted packing the best-seller in one of the septet’s Bon Voyage trips.
According to Kim, she is grateful personalities like Jungkook, albeit unintentionally, helped boost her sales as it will help convey her message of self-acceptance to more individuals.
“I cannot believe many celebrities read my book. I'm really thankful lots of their fans are also reading my book,” she shared.
To date, her best-sellers have been translated and exported to Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
“I never imagined it would reach international readers. But I feel very much thankful I can share my thoughts with the globe. The world is connected, this is how I can show more of my thoughts with bigger audience,” Kim said.
In the Philippines, Kim partnered with publishing imprint Apop to translate her works to English.
“I feel very incredible and thankful. Sometimes I receive SMS messages from Philippine audiences. I feel overwhelmed,” Kim explained.
According to Apop head Agno Almario, he created a translation team, which includes Kristina Carla Rico and Kyung Min Bae, to ensure the essence of the original texts will not get lost in translation.
“We pride ourselves in creating a translation team not just well versed in the language but is knowledgeable in the culture. Isa sa tagasalin is a Korean national and she fully understands and makes sure that when the message is translated we keep everything,” he said.
Apart from the two titles, Apop publishes other self-help books penned by South Koreans.
“Hindi surprise na mahilig ang Pinoy sa K-drama, Kpop, dahil malapit sa atin kultura rin nila. Important dalhin [sa bansa] ang mga kwento nila dahil they are stories that in my opinion relate to us because of our shared Asian culture,” Almario reasoned.
The Apop head further explained they were motivated to publish the books as there are issues and struggles that are uniquely Asian.
“Napakanapapanahon. I think we saw a specific type na when they enter a phase in life they begin to look for who they are. They begin to discover what is out there. Perfect itong illustrated essays as it discusses how they can move forward in life that isn’t seen in the West,” he said.
The Apop booth will be at the International Book Fair in Pasay City until September 17.