Internet novelist Lee Yoon Sae, better known by her pen name Guiyeoni, shook Korea in the 2000s with her sensational online fiction series. Published with the dawn of the Korean internet era, Guiyeoni’s romance novels gained extreme popularity among Korean teens.
1. He Was Cool (2001)
Guiyeoni published “He Was Cool” first in 2001. This romance novel is about Ji Eun Sung, the male protagonist who is one of the four most popular students at school, and Han Ye Won, the female protagonist who is silly but cute, falling in love with each other.
When “He Was Cool” was first published, it received as much criticism as attention, for its shocking use of emojis, online messenger style sentences, and experimental punctuation.
Regardless, “He Was Cool” was widely loved and turned into a movie featuring actor Song Seung Heon and actress Jung Da Bin.
Watch the first bit of the movie here:
2. Temptation of Wolves (2002)
“Temptation of Wolves”, possibly Guiyeoni’s most successful work, was published in 2002. It is about a countryside girl, Jung Han Kyung, who moves to the city to find two boys, Ban Hae Won and Jung Tae Sung, who fight over her. This story had a massive plot twist that had the readers crying day and night about the characters’ misfortune.
This novel was also turned into a movie featuring actress Lee Chung Ah and actor Gang Dong Won, whose fame skyrocketed from their roles.
Koreans still associate Gang Dong Won with the ever-famous umbrella GIF from this movie.
3. Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do (2003)
Guiyeoni’s third romance novel, “Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do” was published in 2003. This fictional story centers around the relationship between a band vocalist (Shin Eun Kyu) and a bullied girl (Yoon Jung Won). Though the novel has a happy ending, the ups and downs throughout the story had Korean teens completely devastated.
Actor Jang Keun Suk and actress Cha Ye Ryun appeared in the movie version.
Unfortunately, the movie did not do as well as the other two Guiyeoni-nove-based movies.
You can watch a bit of the movie here:
4. To My Boyfriend (2004)
“To My Boyfriend”, said to be titled after the song by Fin.K.L, was published in 2004 and had the most readers of all of Guiyeoni’s novels. Critics have also cited “To My Boyfriend” as Guiyeoni’s best writing: without the overuse of emojis or internet jargon, but full of emotions, and a great build-up to the story’s sad ending.
“To My Boyfriend”, a love story between Lee Kang Soon and her dying boyfriend, Kwon Eun Hyung, was turned into a musical in 2016.
5. Outsider (2005)
Guiyeoni published “Outsider” in 2005. This novel is about an outsider girl, Han Seol, who falls in love with a boy named Kang Ha Ru who mistakes her for another girl who had actually passed away. Kang Ha Ru’s brother, Kang Eun Chan, falls in love with Han Seol. These three characters, unable to control their feelings for each other, battle loneliness and heartbreak throughout the story.
This sad romance novel actually gained a tremendous amount of popularity in China!
6. Syndrome (2007)
When Guiyeoni announced the beginning of “Syndrome”, in collaboration with Big Hit Entertainment, the novel became highly anticipated. “Syndrome” also generated quite a bit of buzz as it was to take on a sensational new format: a cartoon-and-novel style publication, released twice a week on various Korean websites, including Naver and Daum.
The agency cast real life high school students to represent the novel’s male characters, who are delinquent students with a strong friendship.
Despite the effort to involve multimedia and attract more readers from different fan bases, Naver stopped publishing the work within two weeks due to heavy criticism regarding the quality of the work. Other sites stopped after five to six weeks. Only MelOn and Daum Webtoon completed publishing the series.