Bestselling Korean-NZ author attributes power of K-content to freshness and richness of culture

By Park Sae-jin Posted : March 22, 2024, 16:28 Updated : April 9, 2024, 08:34
Graci Kim Photographed by Park Sae-jin
Graci Kim [Photographed by Park Sae-jin]

SEOUL, March 22 (AJU PRESS) -- In 2021, Graci Kim's debut novel "The Last Fallen Star" from her "Gifted Clan" trilogy gained worldwide acclaim for its fusion of Korean mythology and folklores, featuring enchanting characters like the "Gumiho" (nine-tailed fox) and "Dokkaebi" (mischievous goblin).

The "Gifted Clan" trilogy follows the journey of an adopted South Korean-American girl delving into the magical realm in search of her roots. For the 38-year-old New York Times best-selling author, the themes of identity, family, and belonging are deeply personal, stemming from her own experiences growing up as a Korean girl in New Zealand. The Gifted Clan trilogy has been translated into multiple languages, including the Korean version scheduled for release in 2025. 

Reflecting on her multicultural upbringing, Kim shared her thoughts with Aju Korea Daily at a cultural event hosted by the New Zealand Embassy in the Republic of Korea on Thursday. "I was born in Korea, but I was raised in New Zealand. At times, I felt like I wasn't Korean enough when in Korea, and not Kiwi enough while in New Zealand. It was a struggle to find where I belonged," she said after her welcome speech at the New Zealand Residence near central Seoul.

She described a pivotal moment in her life when she realized she didn't have to choose between her Korean and Kiwi identities. "I thought that, 'what if I just flip my thoughts?' and realized that, I didn't have to choose. I can be fully Korean and fully New Zealander and that is who I am." Kim explained.

This realization inspired her to craft stories that celebrate Korean culture, often perceived as challenging for foreigners to grasp. Despite this misconception, "The Gifted Clan" trilogy received widespread recognition, with features in prominent media outlets like TIME Magazine for Kids.

Kim's novels have ridden the wave of "Hallyu" (the Korean cultural wave), alongside K-pop, K-drama, and K-film. She acknowledged the rich storytelling tradition of Korean culture, comparing it to renowned mythologies like Greek, Roman, or Egyptian. "Our stories are just as captivating, but they remain largely undiscovered by the world," she remarked.

Expressing pride in her role as a storyteller, Kim sees herself as unearthing hidden treasures and presenting them to a global audience. She believes that K-content will continue to resonate with fans worldwide as they uncover the vast array of Korean narratives waiting to be explored.
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