animefringe november 2003 / feature
Animefringe Coverage:
My Sassy Girl - What's love got to do with it?

Life was looking up for Geon-woo. Not only had he finished his term in the South Korean military and been discharged, but his hair was finally growing back to a normal 'civilian' length. College was even going fairly well for him and his mom didn't have any problem with him living at home for a while. Yes, Geon-woo's life was going fairly well...that is, until she caught his eye.

Geon-woo was catching the usual afternoon train when he noticed a young lady with long reddish-brown hair leaning on a wall and making some 'unusual' noises. He paused, as did nearly everyone else. She was dressed in yellow sweatshirt and a pair of pink jeans that, needless to say, accented her shapely rump when she hunched over to collect herself. As the girl headed for the train, Geon-woo followed and continued mentally undressing her with his eyes. It was then that she started wobbling. Her face contorted, her lips went outward, her cheeks got puffy, her eyes got tight, and then it happened -- she barfed all over this bald guy who was quietly sitting and reading his paper! Backed into a corner, without explanation, she reaches for Geon-woo, calls him "honey," and in short order Geon-woo's life takes a nosedive. Since then he's become little more than a dog on a leash, forced to jump through hoops and drop everything just to fulfill his demanding girlfriend's every whim, and strangely enough...he likes it. Talk about a strange masochistic twist!

Doesn't sound like your average Japanese manga, now does it? Well, Ho Sik Kim and Dae Hong Min's My Sassy Girl isn't manga. In fact, it's the latest Korean manwha to make it across the Pacific and into North American bookstores. And best of all, it's in full color. But did you know it's actually based on a movie?

The movie My Sassy Girl hit Korean theaters in 2001 and stayed there for six straight weeks, ultimately making it the second highest grosser of that year. However, it's doubtful that many Americans have ever even heard of it.

My Sassy Girl is the classic 'opposites attract' type of story, but told with a comedic slant and some very cleverly positioned visual tweaks such as Warner Bros. eye-pops to super-deformed speedy legs.

While Korean manwha isn't anything new to North America, it still is relatively new to ComicsOne. Prior to My Sassy Girl and NOW being licensed, ComicsOne's only other Korean title had been Mina Hwang's Redmoon, which according to Nicole Curry, "did pretty well at the beginning," but mainly because there was a computer game in the works. When the company that was creating the game went under, the "sales pretty much ended."

Since then, ComicsOne has managed to expand their Japanese manga lines and Chinese martial arts books, a line that recently split from the company. When asked how ComicsOne decides what series they go after, Nicole replied, "if we see something we go after it." And as Nicole summed it up, they are "definitely looking for more."

What about the blockbuster motion picture though? As of yet, no company has even considered picking up the rights to the original movie that this book series is based on. However, Dreamworks is working on a remake and it is possible that the original could end up on DVD. Even so, MTV recently acquired the rights to the Korean live action high school martial arts flick Volcano High, so there is still hope for other Korean films to make it to North America.

Before you rush out and snag a copy of this book, there is one rather interesting thing worth pointing out. Geon-woo never actually asks his newfound friend what her name is in the first graphic novel. The only real clue the reader is given is when Geon-woo goes through little miss sassy's purse and discovers her ID. "Gyung-Ghi-Do" might be her name, or it might just be part of her address. That part isn't quite clear, but Geon-woo isn't sweating over it and neither should readers. Just sit back and go with the flow.