DISCLAIMER: My translation of the article may not be accurate.
If it’s not yet obvious, I’m a big My Name Is Kim Sam Soon fan. Before I become a Kim Sun Ah fan, I was first a Sam Soon fan.That drama caught me off guard, made me laugh and cry at unexpected moments. Made me look at life differently. Made me shake off all my insecurities. Made me enjoy life more. In my book, it’s the best drama every written.
My Name Is Kim Sam Soon is originally a novel, written by a female novelist Ji Soo Hyun, published in 2004 – a year before the drama aired. The novel was later adapted for television and was penned by drama writer Kim Do Wo.
When I first learned the My Name Is Kim Sam Soon was originally a novel, I can’t help but be interested in the book so I had a friend buy me a copy even if my Korean then is not even enough to introduce myself properly. All I did since then is open the book once in a while, read some pages (without understanding it), close it, put it back on the shelf, and hope that someday I’ll be able to read it. Like REALLY read it.
I’m curious to find out what were the changes made in the drama version. What parts were removed. What parts were retained. How faithful the adaptation was? And, honestly speaking, I’m most curious to know which will I like better.
I’m also curious about the novelist, as much as I am curious with Kim Do Wo (and other Korean drama writers). I’ve always wondered what kind of person they both are to come up with such stories and characters. Are they married. Do they have kids. Are they romantic. Are they similar to the character/s they write? Or are they the exact opposite?
Anyway, yesterday I came across a short article – an interview with writer Ji Soo Hyun. If I’m not mistaken it was part of the “Curious about My Name Is Kim Sam Soon” series of Woman Donga and was written in 2005 (in the middle of the drama’s broadcast). The article satisfied my curiosity over the ‘mysterious’ novelist. Now she is not just a name to me.
My Name Is Kim Sam Soon novelist Ji Soo Hyun
Self-portrait of Novelist Ji Soo Hyun
As the drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon gains popularity, a lot of people became more and more curious about the writer behind the original novel, Ms. Ji Soo Hyun. She dislikes the idea of showing herself to the public, thus she refused a photoshoot and we proceeded with an email interview instead.
Blood type: B
Hobby: Eating delicious cakes
Ideal type: Someone like Hyun Bin – arrogant but with a warm heart
That’s the profile of the writer who wrote the novel from which the sky-high popular MBC drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon was adapted from. She said she is very similar to Sam Soon because she actually modeled the character to herself. She was born prematurely (7 months) and she has always been clumsy since she was a child, tripping here, falling there. And whenever that happens, she repeatedly hear her mother sigh “Aigoo! This little Sam Soon!” And even Kim Sun Ah’s (as Kim Sam Soon?) mistakes or errors in the drama, she all have experienced them.
“Since I was a kid, there were times I’ve thought of becoming a patissier because I love cakes. But I don’t have great baking skills like Sam Soon. The cakes I baked were uneven and the cookies I made were too hard you can’t even chew it.
“Just like in dramas, I’ve also experienced lots of bad lucks and bad timings. I have met a fender bender WHILE I was having a driving lesson. I went to the district office to pay my dues on the deadline just in time when the doors are being closed and locked. I even have to be rescued in Halla Mountain (alodia: this I’m not 100% sure).
“When Sam Soon is upset she bake cakes early in the morning. When I’m upset I scribble at dawn,” she said.
She took Industrial Design in college. In 2000 she quit her job, moved to Yongin Gyeonggi-do and started writing. At that time, her health was not so good. She had plenty of free time at home and one day she came across a website where you can upload your written novels. So she started posting stories she imagined since she was a kid.
Last year, her internet novel that gathered a lot of attention, “Noona and I or She and I?” was adapted to television in KBS Snow White. And just last March, her “Our 4321 days” was adapted as KBCS 18 vs 29. Other than those two mentioned, currently, television and movie production companies have purchased rights and contracts of most of her novels for TV or screen adaptation.
“Sam Soon is a character that was patterned after myself.”
“The reason why a lot of women my age, cherish the drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon so much, is that they feel that they can see themselves in Sam Soon. ‘Must go to blind dates no matter how boring it is.’ ‘Must save money for the future.’ ‘Must diet.’ They sympathize with Sam Soon who find all these things easier said than done. They also cheer for Sam Soon who works hard despite unfavorable circumstances.
The lead male characters who appeared in the novel reflect Ji Soo Hyun’s ideal types. “Whenever I write I think that to be able to reach the readers, they too must be able to feel the feeling of being in love. Creating handsome characters with good personality would be effective but it is not always the case. Men who cherish women sincerely – I make an effort to create those kind of male characters whom women would want to fall in love with,” she said.
Ji Soo Hyun doesn’t fret as to what and how many parts they exclude or edit out from her novels when they are being adapted to other mediums. She said, “I have already expressed myself the way I want it on my novel. It’s a pleasure to have my work to be adapted into a drama. It’s fun to imagine when you read a novel. And it’s even more fun to see it with your own eyes in a drama.”
“AsI watch the drama, I can see that both the writer and the director exerted efforts in being faithful with the original novel. Sam Soon is more vigorous and full of energy in the drama than in the novel, but that’s plainly her – Sam Soon. Jin Hun, I think, was almost exactly the character in the novel – not just being younger, but being simple-hearted while acting pervertly; and having a painful past. Hee Jin, Jin Hun’s ex-girlfriend, appeared way earlier than she did in the novel but I’m also curious as to how her original small role will develop into a bigger one in the drama.”
“The novel and the drama were two different fruits from the same tree,” said Ji Soo Hyun. I may be the one who provided the basic foundation, but I completely give my trust and believe the director, writer and all the drama staff,” she said.
Sadly this article (and a whole lot more out there) was not translated because most people are just curious about the drama then. Times like this I really love learning Korean! I wouldn’t have learned about this awesome writer if I don’t know Korean. 😄
I am currently downloading 18 vs 29 because it looks like I’m gonna like it. I guess more than Writer Kim Do Wo (My Name Is Kim Sam Soon screenplay writer), I’ll be stalking Writer Ji Soo Hyun more. I’m more encouraged to finish reading My Name Is Kim Sam Soon novel now that I know more about the novelist. 🙂