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Author Interview: Yangsook Choi [in AsianWeek]

Yangsook ChoiBeing a Kid

By the time Yangsook Choi graduated from art school, she already had her first book contract for what would become The Sun Girl and Moon Boy, a Korean folktale which Choi adapted and illustrated, published in 1997. Her advisor at NYC’s prestigious School of Visual Arts was so taken with her work that he called a few big editors on her behalf.  She got immediate results, and she’s been incredibly busy ever since.

A native Korean, Choi had a whole other career before books – as a flight attendant with Cathay Pacific Airways. She pursued her dream to study art when she moved to the United States in 1991 to attend Kendall College of Arts and Design in Michigan. In 1993 she arrived in New York to continue her art studies, and never left.

Since then, she’s produced nine picture books, some she has written as well as illustrated, including New Cat and The Name Jar, and others that she’s illustrated for other authors including Nim and the War Effort by Milly Lee and This New Next Year by Janet S. Wong. Her accumulated awards include the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award. Her latest title, Good-bye, 382 Shin Dang Dong by Frances and Ginger Park, is about a young girl’s move from Seoul to Boston and debuts in September.

AsianWeek: How much of your Korean background gets played out in your books?
Yangsook Choii: I don’t tend to think too much about my Korean background. That just comes out in my stories naturally, because that’s what I know, what I’ve experienced. A story is an experience, so in that sense, the Korean influence comes naturally. I’ve noticed that in the children’s book market, my Korean culture and background are very unique and different, which make my stories unique and different. It’s a lucky match – not because I’m Korean and I have a Korean cultural background, but because I’m always on the lookout for something new and different to write about, so it all fits perfectly. … [click here for more]

Profile: “Being a Kid,” AsianWeek, July 18, 2002

Author photo credit: Claudia Hehr Photography

TidbitYangook Choi was a wonderful guest for the Smithsonian’s Korean American Centennial Commemoration‘s fall program, “Children’s Books,” on September 13, 2003.


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