Eunsoo Jeong is an artist, color designer, illustrator, animator living in Los Angeles. Koreangry is a comic/zine series based on her daily struggle as a Korean-American immigrant woman. Eunsoo Jeong started the Koreangry comic/zine project in 2016 after the election, to cope with her anxiety and fear. As an immigrant, she needed a way to celebrate her story through comics rather than live in fear. Eunsoo Jeong describes the main character in her zine as an alter-ego "angry” version of herself. The armature, props, and sets are handmade using various found-materials and mixed-media.
How did you get interested in zines?
I was interested in making zines when I learned how limitless and boundless it could be, especially without having constraints on shape/sizes and topics. Because I enjoy creating artwork that involves using my hands, it was natural for me to dive into the hands-on process of zine-making. It’s also super affordable and not-intimidating; it’s very intimate and personal––so I thought it would be a perfect way to tell my story. When the 2016 election hit, I started writing about my feelings and made my first rage-filled zine. I needed an escape from the harsh reality and working on my zine helped me tune everything else out.
How would you describe your zines?
Having anonymity with my “Koreangry” character allowed me to more freely explore subjects I wanted to but may not have felt comfortable exploring otherwise. Koreangry is a 7-inch puppet/ doll/ armature/ character that I’ve created, sort of my alter-ego. My Koreangry zine series is an on-going search of my life told with this character––photographed with hand made props in a set I built. My zines include written excerpts, word-play, poems, comics, crude sketches, and experimental digital collages.
You bring up issues of racism, sexism, nationalism, and ignorance in your zines. Have zines been an outlet for you to channel your frustrations? In what ways?
For so long, I was unsure of how to express my feelings. I often dismissed and normalized my discomfort and anxiety that was attributed to depression because I was raised to “not make any fuss or trouble”. I saw myself caught in situations that were sexist, racist; countless uncomfortable subtle social interactions where I was unable to say anything. Sadly, growing up, I normalized the experience of hearing random Asian words, cat-calls, and racist slurs thrown in my direction. My zines have been an absolutely great outlet to share my most honest feelings about those experiences. By making zines, I have been untangling and rewriting those narratives that made up a big part of me. I have gained a lot of confidence in talking about my work, standing up for myself, and setting boundaries. I learned to translate and transfer my negativity into something productive. It is still an on-going journey but I am a lot happier and healthier :)
What kind of feedback have you gotten from your zines?
I have been getting overwhelming support and feedback from zines. But as positive as my work can be, I also experience polarizing feedback as well. It is excruciating to see my artwork being chewed up in political discourse. Before COVID-19, I traveled outside of California to attend many zine fests across the states and it has been fascinating to meet audiences who have come across my work. This has impacted my confidence in my work––It has been incredible to meet folks who relate to my work!
Your zines are so technical—how long does it take you to put together your zines?
Usually each zine takes about 4-5 months of putting content together. With each zine, I experiment with a new style and ideas so sometimes it takes longer than I planned. Also, my Koreangry character needs maintenance, so it takes extra time to rebuild the puppet and assemble it all together. The last zine issue, #8, took 6 months of research on Korean American History and was way too ambitious for me!
The miniature sets that you make are amazing! Do you also make animations with the figures?
I haven’t fully tried to make an animation with the figures, but am hoping to give it a shot someday! I was not in favor of making her move due to the amount of labor that would be required, but with all the feedback and demand I’ve been getting over the years, I have been warming up to the idea of it being animated.
You've gone digital? How has that changed the way you distribute your zines?
Due to COVID-19, many zine fests, comic festivals, and events have been canceled and it was a little rough to accept the change of schedule this year. I have a digital pdf copy of my zines available and though it’s not the same as having physical copies, I’m glad people can read and get acquainted with my work digitally. I also have educational material, like the Korean American Timeline History chart, Bully-prevention poster, open letter for Black Lives Matter (in both Korean and English), and a Know Your RIghts mini-zine comic, all available at no cost. (gumroad.com/koreangry)
Do you also collect zines? Are there any particular zines that you love or zine makers?
I have been collecting zines and I’ve learned so many stories from them, especially on issues that I am not familiar with or stories that are often forgotten or not included. I would absolutely like to mention Lawrence Lindell and Breena Nuñez! They have been a constant inspiration for me and I’ve been a huge fan of their work.
What do you think is the future of zines?
I think the future of zines are going to be thriving. Each year I see bigger zine communities and more attendees and participants. The panels and programming in zine events have been more progressive, diverse, and inclusive. We are living in a wild time that encourages us to think creatively and look into artistic solutions that can offer a healing remedy. The future of zines will include a wider range of participants making diverse content and stories. The affordability, accessibility and limitless aspects of zine-making is why zines will continue to thrive and exist beyond these wild chaotic times.
How do you feel about your zines being available for patrons to borrow at the library?
I’m super excited about my zines being available for patrons to borrow! The library has been my favorite place to be––it was like a safe sanctuary for me. It’s so cool that my zines are in the library for patrons to borrow––Thank You!