▲ Agne Latinyte with the beautifully illustrated Badang Badang Photo by The Jeju Weekly
There is a natural phenomenon around the coast of Jeju. As the tide goes out, fish get caught in the rocky pools created by the lack of water.
Usually, any fish that gets caught in a tide pool either gets quickly devoured by the other sea creatures inhabiting the pool or suffocates slowly due to the heat and lack of oxygen in the water.
Much like a fish that gets drawn to Jeju by the tide of the ocean, Agne Latinyte was drawn to Jeju by the tide of life. Unlike a fish, however, instead of being devoured or suffocated, Agne thrived. So much so, that she has recently illustrated a children's book.
Originally from Lithuania, Agne came to Jeju around two years ago to take a Master’s degree in Design and Management. The book, titled Badang Badang (바당바당) is one of many projects she has completed on the island.
Badang Badang came about when Agne met marine biology researcher Lim Hyoung-mook. The two met through a shared love of scuba-diving and, wanting to find a fun way to get kids interested in the sea, decided to write the book using the story of the pool tide.
Worried, however, that the scientific ending to the pool tide story might not make the best ending for a children’s book, potentially ensuring that any child who reads it would never enter the sea again, they decided to focus on the various characters Mel meets in the pool.
These colorfully illustrated characters then work together to help Mel escape before it’s too late.
There is a strong Jeju theme throughout the book. Each page is filled with a photo of Jeju’s coast (taken by Hyung-mook on his scuba diving trips) with Agnes's watercolor paintings superimposed over the top. They combine beautifully to move the reader into a colorful land that is part real and part cartoon.
As well as this, Jeju language is brought into the story through the naming of the characters. For example, Mel (멜) is the Jejueo word for Anchovy. Agne said that this was a great way to add Jeju language to the book without making it too difficult to understand.
At the moment the book is only available in Korean, although Agne and Hyung-mook do have plans translate it into English, hopefully sometime within the year.
The book is currently available from the independent bookstore Like It in Chilsungro, Jeju City as well as directly from Agne herself every weekend at Seogwipo Artist Market. You can also contact her on her Facebook page to find out about getting a copy.
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