Korean high school students won the highest award at the National High School Manga Contest of Japan, the kingdom of comics. Jeonnam Girls’ High School students in Gwangju City ranked the top at the final round of the 31st Manga Koshien held in Kochi Prefecture, Japan on Sunday.
Jeonnam High School was the only Korean among 20 schools in the finals. When the result came out, Kim Seo-young and Song Eui-yeon (in the third year), Kim Hye-ryeong and Lee Chae-eun (in the second year) jump to their feet, crying out in pleasure with tearful eyes. When the award presenter passed the medal and the certificate of award toward the screen, the students acted as if they are receiving those in person by bending their back in front of the camera, causing laughter among the audience. “It is a great honor for us to receive such a big prize,” he said. “Two days of the finals felt long but short at the same time.”
Manga Koshien’s official title is the National High School Manga Championship. Since 1992, the event has been held as a gateway for new cartoonists as Japan’s biggest high school manga contest. Having produced the cartoonist Takashi Yanase, who created ‘Anpanman,’ the match took place every year in Kochi Prefecture, also called “the City of Manga.” This year, 179 schools from Japan and abroad joined the contest. It is a competition where students have to draw a one-page manga under a given theme for five and a half hours. Back in 2017, Jeonnam Arts High School topped the list for the first time in Korea.
In the finals held under the theme ‘Thoughtful World,’ Jeonnam students gave the message of “Judge a book not by its cover, but by its inner side,” by drawing an episode where they get lost in the subway station in Japan and receive help from a man with tattoos. At first, they feel intimidated by him, thinking, “The man might be a yakuza!” but his tattoos turn out to be a map that guides them to the contest venue.
Jeong-Soo Hong [email protected]