“Flyway: connecting people and migratory waterbirds” story series #9 – Interview with Ms. Serang Chung, writer in Ro Korea

Writer Serang Chung, “I like the fact that birdwatching is based on respect between birds and human”

Writer Serang Chung went birdwatching to Suncheon Bay [EAAF079], South Korea. © Serang Chung

Ms. Serang Chung, a famous Korean writer and a known birdwatcher in Ro Korea. She is loved by her novel <The School Nurse Files (보건교사 안은영)> which was made into a Netflix original series and <From attentions (시선으로부터)>. She won the 7th Changbi Novel Award in 2013, and Hankook Ilbo Literary Award in 2017.

“I was fascinated by birds that I met in my daily life and during travel. The memory of visiting Suncheon Bay was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.” Writer Serang Chung, who has actively expressed her interest and love in birds, shared her personal experiences with birds in the interview with EAAFP.

#Journey of Writer Serang Chung

EAAFP: Nice to meet you, Ms. Serang Chung. Could you please introduce yourself?

Hello. I am a writer who wrote books such as <Only Han-A from Earth (지구에서 한아뿐)>, <I’ll Give You My Voice (목소리를 드릴께요)>, <Fifty People (피프티 피플)>, <The School Nurse Files (보건교사 안은영)>, <From Attentions (시선으로부터)> since 2010. I am writing various genres of stories.

EAAFP: What kind of work are you recently doing?

I am writing a music drama script and want to write a historical mystery novel after that. I assume birds might appear in the mystery novel.

EAAFP: What motivated you to become a writer?

Working in the publishing company as a magazine editor led me to become a writer. As I was working in the midst of fast-paced magazine production by contemporary writers, I also became to want to be part of it.

Image of Ms. Serang Chung who is observing birds in Yeoncheon, South Korea © Serang Chung

# Beautiful Memories with Birds

EAAFP: In a recent interview, you mentioned that you have a huge interest in birds. What made you interested in birds?

I was able to see a lot of migratory waterbirds as the wetland passes through the middle of Paju Book City where I had worked. Especially, since I worked at the top floor, I could hear the sound of migratory waterbirds sitting and taking a rest on the rooftop. When the birds sang, I went up to see what kind of bird is making the sound, but they usually flew away. It was also an overwhelming experience to see an Eagle Owl by chance. I was also fascinated by the birds that I met in my daily life and during travel. The memory of visiting Suncheon Bay was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. Reading books about birds also allowed me to grow my interest. It is amazing that the birds, from Hummingbird to Ostrich, have been evolved in so many different directions.

EAAFP: It seemed you already know a lot of birds. Is there any bird that you like in particular? If yes, why?

I especially like Kingfishers after I was fascinated by their appearance during hunting. I wonder how that movement is possible. I have also dreamed to raise a goose in a house with a yard since the picture of the writer Kyung-ri Park with her goose was so nice. I heard goose is a loyal housekeeper. However, it might take more time to achieve the dream, because geese are long-lived and I should buy a huge land not to damage my neighbors with the noise of goose. I am just imagining a garden full of bird’s favorite wild plants, free from pesticides.

EAAFP: In the recent broadcasting show, you drew attention by comparing the host celebrity of the show to birds. What bird do you think looks like you the most?

I think I would like to be similar to the Woodpeckers. I admire their intensity and concentration, and it is amazing that they absorb all the shock with their chin, not head, when they peck on wood. Maybe I want to absorb the bumps of life bravely like Woodpeckers. I also like the fact that the nests built by Woodpeckers are recycled by other birds.

Photo of Suncheon Bay [EAAF 079] taken by Ms. Serang Chung © Serang Chung

# Message Toward the World

EAAFP: What message would you like to tell your readers about the environment or ecology through your work?

I want to give a message that everything is connected. I heard that there should be a lot of wetlands to reduce the damage from avian influenza by decreasing waterbirds’ stopover on farms. Also, a book I read a while ago said when salmon return to the upper stream and die, bugs are made, and the birds eat them to live. I want to emphasize through my literature that everything on this miraculous planet is connected and we are part of it.

EAAFP: What is your plan or hope to raise awareness of the conservation of birds?

I have donated to various organizations related to wildlife and biodiversity, and also often participated in campaigns. Mostly, I want to escape from anthropocentrism through my book. I want to contribute to helping future generations to enjoy the pleasure of meeting birds. It is always good that birdwatching is based on respect between birds and humans. I will never get tired of birdwatching, as which I look at birds quietly from 30 meters away without saying a word but brightening my heart.

Check more about the Suncheon Bay [EAAF079] that Ms. Serang Chung visited: https://www.eaaflyway.net/rok/

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