Portland, OR – Comics and graphic novel publisher ABLAZE notably expands its webtoon manhwa catalog with THE AWL, a moving and socially conscious series about the struggles of workers at an oppressive Korean big box superstore as they strive for better lives and working conditions. The work is by creator Choi Gyu-Seok, who was also the artist of The Hellbound, a manhwa series adapted into a live action show and streaming on Netflix now.
THE AWL is critically acclaimed and the recipient of the Korean Cartoon of Today Prize and caused a stir by raising public awareness about acute labor problems when it was originally published. It was also adapted to a successful TV series in South Korea by the JTBC network. ABLAZE will launch the 6-volume series in print with the debut of Volume 1 this December.
THE AWL, Vol. 1, story and art by Gyu-seok, Choi ∙ SRP: $14.99 ∙ 248 Pages ∙ ISBN: 978-1-68497-190-9 ∙ Available December 6th
Set in the latter half of the 2000s, against the backdrop of “Pureumi”, a fictional superstore chain in South Korea, the work unfolds with a focus on two protagonists: Yi Su-in, who has been instructed by the corporation to dismiss workers unjustly; and Gu Go-sin, a labor activist.
A man of principles, Su-in is someone who cannot restrain outspoken criticism and is constantly at odds with the world. Though he has quit a career in the armed forces to live quietly and chosen an ordinary job, he once again clashes against the world because the company has ordered him to drive out employees by force.
Aiding Su-in is Go-sin, a cool-headed and deft labor activist who runs a labor counseling center near the Pureumi chain. Unlike Su-in, who has difficulty getting along with people and sternly sticks to rules, he approaches others without hesitation and even resorts to extreme measures at times to accomplish goals.
Remarkable in mastery and brilliance, creator Choi Gyu-Seok (The Hellbound) depicts with finesse all the adventures of this shock of two worlds, and at the same time offers an amazing portrait of a complex Korean society, crossed by multiple tensions.
“THE AWL is a very special title, and we are proud to bring it to the ABLAZE catalog and to English readers for the first time,” says Rich Young, co-founder and publisher of ABLAZE. “The struggle between the haves and have nots, between the rich and poor, between oppressors and the oppressed is timeless and the struggles by workers all over the world continue each day. THE AWL is a testament to these workers and to how one man’s actions have far-reaching consequences to change the lives of many people.”
Born in 1977 in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, Choi Gyu-seok studied illustration and animation at Sang Myung University and made his debut as a cartoonist with the selection of his work in a competition hosted by a Korean magazine in 1998. He went on to be the recipient of Dong-LG International Festival of Comics, Cartoon, Character Design and Animation (DIFECA) for his “The Cola Man” in 2002. In 2003 He won the Comics Readers Award and the Presidential Awar Award for Outstanding Leaders of the 21st Century. He was also invited that year to the Angouleme International Comics Festival and selected among “New Cultural Stars” by the Daily Hankyoreh in 2006. His other works include “A Report on the Ecology of Marshes” and “A Sad Homage to Dooly the Dinosaur.” Currently he serializes the historical drama The Natives of the Republic of Korea in the weekly Hankyoreh 21.
ABLAZE titles are distributed in-print worldwide by Diamond Comic and Diamond Book Distributors. Digital versions of ABLAZE titles are available via most major digital platforms.
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