The Korea Herald


‘Black Rubber Shoes’ creator, cartoonist Lee Woo-young dies

By Kim Da-sol

Published : March 12, 2023 - 18:18

    • Link copied

Scene from the theatrical release of the “Black Rubber Shoes” movie released in 2022 (Saehan Production) Scene from the theatrical release of the “Black Rubber Shoes” movie released in 2022 (Saehan Production)

Cartoon artist Lee Woo-young, one of the creators behind the original hit comic book and animated series, “Black Rubber Shoes,” in the 1990s and the 2000s, was found dead at his home in Incheon, according to police Sunday.

Lee was discovered by his family member at around 7 p.m. on Saturday, in what was an apparent suicide. Lee’s family said that he was going through a rough time due to recent lawsuits regarding copyright issues. An autopsy will not be conducted at the request of the family’s request.

The 51-year-old cartoonist was reportedly involved in a lawsuit with a local animation firm over the latter violating the copyright of his “Black Rubber Shoes” and releasing the episodes on OTT platforms like Netflix.

While Lee argued that he has received no copyright fees from the firm, the firm claimed that the character used in their animation was different from that of the original comic book, so there are no issues to settle.

After dropping out of Kongju National University’s cartoon and comics major, Lee debuted in the local comic scene with “Black Rubber Shoes” in 1992, a comic that depicted the poverty and difficulties of life in 1960s Korea, featuring main characters Gi-young and Gi-chul.

The brothers’ stories inspire nostalgia and memories and have garnered huge popularity regardless of age or gender.

“Black Rubber Shoes,” created together with Lee’s younger brother, cartoonist Lee Woo-jin, and writer Lee Young-il, ran from 1992 to 2006 in the biweekly magazine Comic Champ.

It was made into an animated film in 1999 and broadcast on KBS2.

If you’re thinking about self-harm or suicide, contact the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s helpline 1393, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. -- Ed.