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French director Sylvain Chomet to cinematize novelist Hwang Sok-yong’s ‘Familiar Things’

Korean author Hwang Sok-yong’s novel “Familiar Things” is expected to be cinematized by French animator Sylvain Chomet, who directed “Triplets of Belleville” and “The Illusionist.”

The Susijn Agency, a London-based literary agency that represents Hwang, on Tuesday said that the firm is currently “in mid-negotiation” with Chomet over the cinematization of the novel. Details will be revealed after contracts have been signed, it added.

Chomet had expressed hopes to make an animation with Seoul as a backdrop during an interview with a Korean newspaper in 2016 while attending the 2016 Buchon International Animation Festival.

Author Hwang sok-yong (Yonhap)
Author Hwang sok-yong (Yonhap)

“Familiar Things” unfolds in an unnamed city’s landfill called Flower Island, based on the landfill-turned-park in Nanji in Seoul. In the 2011 novel, Hwang examines the negative effects of capitalism through the story of a 14-year-old boy living near the landfill.

“Things feel different now” after the country’s former president was impeached, Hwang told The Korea Herald in a phone interview. Hwang was one of the figures on the Park Geun-hye administration’s blacklist of cultural figures.

“The novel will do well as an animation,” Hwang said, adding, “Dokkaebi characters from the novel will be interesting figures to draw.”

Dokkaebi are friendly goblins that are often featured in Korean folktales. “Dokkaebi also run counter to the concept of mass production,” Hwang said, referring to how Dokkaebi are thought to be inanimate objects used and discarded by people that turn into spirits.

Hwang’s works have been translated into foreign languages including “The Guest: A Novel,” “The Shadow of Arms” and “The Old Garden.”

By Shim Woo-hyun (