There is a cartoon online which attracts thousands of people everyday. “Golbang Hwansanggok,” which means, “fantasy in a small room” in Korean, describes university students’ concerns. Reader’s support of the author’s thoughts can be seen on the webpage. Who draws such a powerful cartoon? It is Park Jong-won, who stands in the middle of this big popularity, a normal university student in his fourth year of school.
“It was a very sudden change in my life,” Park reminiscences about the time when he became popular. When Park finished his military service in 2005, Cyworld, a personal blog, was a big hit. Many people expressed themselves by taking photos with their digital cameras. However, Park decided to represent his identity by drawing a cartoon and uploading it instead of uploading photos like everyone else. “I was surprised that suddenly lots of people started to scrap my cartoons from Cyworld and I received many phone calls to headhunt me to regular web cartoon bulletin board. Finally, I started to draw a cartoon regularly on Naver, a portal website, in December, 2005,” said Park.
One of the reasons Park’s cartoons became famous is because they mainly deal with issues that most university students are interested in, such as GPA, the exam period, tuition fees, girlfriends or boyfriends. Park translates our normal daily lives into a funny subject in his cartoon with a sarcasm that lots of people can understand and enjoy. However, Park said he does not intend to make his reader sympathize with his cartoon. “When I think about what to draw, I do not push myself to draw a cartoon with which everyone sympathizes. I just like to express my opinion to other people and compare my opinion with that of others,” said Park.
However, because Park has two jobs; one as a student, another as a cartoonist, balancing his study and work can be difficult. “I knew that balancing two jobs would be hard. So, I only took a few classes per semester. Because of that, I have to spend one more semester to achieve more credits,” said Park. Even though Park had to delay his graduation, he does not regret having a job as a cartoonist.
As a famous web cartoonist, Park has been confronted by many anonymous people online. Like other celebrities or web cartoonists, Park struggles to deal with negative critiques. What makes Park feel sad is the situation where he cannot rebut to those replies due to his publicity. “Anonymous people express themselves way too freely and they do not even think about hurting other people’s feeling. I think that bad replies are based on the lack of education on internet etiquette,” Park said.
Although Park’s popularity makes him appear more special than other university students, he is also a typical student who is preparing to get a job after graduation. “Although I became famous for my cartoon, I am not sure about having a job as a cartoonist. Like other university students, I am also an ordinary man who is concerned about an uncertain future,” said Park. “However, I want to continue drawing cartoons. I want to draw an ‘interesting’ cartoon rather than just a ‘funny’ cartoon. I wish everyone who reads my cartoon will become happy. That is my hope that I have as a cartoonist,” added Park.