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First, a confession: I’ve never read manhwa before. Second, this disclosure:Mijeong was an absolutely beautiful place to start.

This book is a collection of seven short stories from artist/writer Byun Byung-Jun, who has become a fast-rising star in his native Korea. All of these stories have been published more than five years ago, and apparently are now being rereleased to capitalize on the author’s new success. Mijeong is Chinese for “pure beauty,” which is an apt description of the striking illustrations inside. The press materials for the book recommend listening to the blues while reading the stories, which deal with loneliness, reflections on youth, death, prostitution, and the evil people inflict upon one another.

Still, it would be wrong to describe this as a “dark” book. No one would call it uplifting, but there are bright spots that showcase Byung-Jun’s talent for laying humanity bare. The book breaks briefly into color in spots, but for the most part, black and white suffices to convey the spirit and tone of the work.

Mijeong is definitely an adult work with its overt themes and depictions. While it’s not for younger readers, older ones will find much to contemplate and ruminate on here.

Reviewed by John Hogan on July 6, 2012

by Byun Byung-Jun

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing, Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 1561635545
  • ISBN-13: 9781561635542