The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Singer-songwriter Lee Juck takes readers on poetic exploration of words

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : June 12, 2023 - 19:09

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Lee Juck speaks at a press conference held in Jung-gu, Seoul, on May 31. (Yonhap) Lee Juck speaks at a press conference held in Jung-gu, Seoul, on May 31. (Yonhap)

Singer-songwriter Lee Juck, is celebrated for his lyrics filled with introspective questions and comforting messages, and for his ability to weave profound, poetic narratives into his songs.

Following the publication of his short story collection “Fingerprint Hunter” (2005), picture books “One Day” and “I Will Wait, You Wait for Me,” Lee has recently published his debut essay collection titled “Lee Juck’s Words” (working title), published by Gimm-Young Publishers.

During a press conference held in Jung-gu, Seoul, on May 31, Lee expressed his hopes for the book to serve as a “tinderbox” that ignites the imagination and inspiration of readers.

“Readers can keep this book by their bedside and read it any time,” said Lee. “I hope it sparks inspiration and makes readers think, ‘Oh, this is another perspective I can consider.’”

The book is a collection of 101 prose pieces -- varying in length from 1 to 2 sentences, but never exceeding one page. Each piece is ignited by certain words, encompassing philosophical concepts like wisdom and time, as well as ordinary and simple words such as earphones and shoes, or some allusions to his songs like goose and laundry.

“The book starts from a certain word. Sometimes I had a story first then selected the word accordingly but essentially it contains my thoughts triggered by the word -- images, ideas or concepts.”

“As I was writing, I realized that I am better at writing short texts than long pieces. So I condensed my thoughts, leaving the rest for the readers to fill in as they read."

Although the book presents itself as a collection of essays, Lee's writing often feels closer to poetry, with rhymes or fictional narratives featuring imaginary speakers.

The book is divided into five sections: the vastness of life, the heights of imagination, the different nuances of language, the depths of songs and the lengths of self.

"Lee Juck’s Words" by Lee Juck (Gimm-Young Publishers)

Lee and the publisher began planning for the book in 2020 and while writing the manuscripts, Lee occasionally shared snippets on his Instagram account. Lee said it worked as a source of motivation to continue writing and engage with the readers while observing their real-time reactions.

"I needed additional motivation because I'm naturally lazy and have a tendency to seek attention,” Lee chuckled. “Once I posted something, people would start discussing it. It was fascinating to see how each word carries so much weight.”

He chose Instagram as the platform to share his work through images.

“The format helped me condense my thoughts into a single screen. I couldn’t make any edits once it was posted, so I put a lot of thought into refining and crafting my messages.”

“If this process didn't exist, I think I would have had some regrets after publishing the book,” he said.

His posts have attracted significant attention for their witty humor and thought-provoking messages.

The post in which he defined “success” as “a state in which one can earn a living without having to work with people they dislike” received over 25,000 likes.

Another post suggested making 30,000 won bills, so you don’t need to count 10,000 won bills or regret giving a nephew 50,000 bills. The post received 19,000 likes, and a legislator expressed his intention to officially propose the idea earlier this year.

Lee Juck speaks at a press conference held in Jung-gu, Seoul, on May 31. (Gimm-Young Publishers) Lee Juck speaks at a press conference held in Jung-gu, Seoul, on May 31. (Gimm-Young Publishers)

In February, Lee celebrated his 10,000th day since his debut in the music industry as part of the duo Panic in October 1995.

Asked about words with which he would like to fill his life, Lee said, “Laughter, comfort, love and similar sentiments come to my mind, right now.”

“I do have goals and dreams, but I am not the type who relentlessly pursues them at the expense of everything else. Such an approach can lead to a burnout at some point,” he said.

“But I do not endorse laziness. I consider myself someone who takes long breaths and carries on.”