Now get ready to add another item on your list, as the World Wide Web marches on into the world of the analog. Old rusty books are being transformed into e-texts, or at least being publicized through the Internet before appearing in hardcover. Moreover, online serial novels have appeared and they are creating a new culture.
About four years ago, on the PC communication site Nownuri, a person named Kim Ho-sik started publishing serials about interesting incidents he had with his girlfriend. They were
eventually compiled into a best-selling book and also put on screen as “My Sassy Girl,”or “Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo” in Korean.
Then followed “My Tutor Friend (Donggabnaegi Gwawoehagi),” also serialized online by the author, Swany, about her experience tutoring a pupil of her age. “My Tutor Friend” walked the
same path to popularity as “My Sassy Girl,” and thereby opened the golden age of the online novel series. Numerous novels are now being released on various Internet sites and clubs everyday, and several among them are waiting to be published as books, or at least have
sold publication rights, while three or four of them are also ready to be reborn as movies.
“One Percent Possibility,” an MBC soap opera broadcasted on Sunday mornings,is also based on an Internet serial.
With this boom, Internet-based novels are being treated as guaranteed box-office hits. The entry of one writer in particular, Guiyeoni, created what may be the next sensation.
Until “My Tutor Friend,”the main writers and readers of online serials were young adults, college students or older. But Guiyeoni’s novel “The Guy Was Stylish,” her most famous work, shifted the flow.Guiyeoni was only in high school. And now,elementary, middle and high school students have also become mainstream readers of online novels.
“The appearance of the new genre, Internet novels, has diversified our culture. Paper has been replaced by e-text, and this has broadened the class of readers. Also, a new group of consumers has emerged. The elementary and middle school girls, who were once isolated
from leading trends in pop culture,have come in,” explains Professor and popular novelist Lyou Chul-gyun (Korean Lang.&Lit.)about the effects of such writing. “The online novels appeared because there was a need, and I see this as a positive sign. This social phenomenon may
be transient, but experiencing diverse cultures through reading is good. I believe that this trend will keep going for a while,” adds Lyou.
However, there are side effects to this newly emerging genre. Numerous newly written novels by immature writers float around the web and achieve instant circulation. But not many readers
seek quality in these stories,making them less and less significant as literature as the quantity increases. Even the plot of each story is almost the same as the next.
Another problem is that such novels are instant and the life span is very short. The writing is just for amusement,not based on or designed to elicit deep emotions.
“I understand such criticism, but demanding traditional standards of quality from these kinds of novels is unreasonable. Society should approve the phenomenon itself and wait for the readers to grow in maturity in selecting what they read,” comments Lyou.