CLAMP Interview – CLAMP No Kiseki vol. 11 – Shin Shunkaden (July/2005)

© CLAMP/ 講談社

© CLAMP/ 講談社

How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Ohkawa: When we lived in Osaka, I found several books about Korean customs and legends. Thus I discovered the original of The Legend of Chung Hyang and set out to take the story to manga. Actually, I knew her from a very young age; I was told by friends from the neighborhood who were of Korean origin. In addition, I always wanted to make a manga about the Japanese series Mito Komon[1] (laughs), that’s why Mong Ryong has ended up behaving as if he were the protagonist, imparting justice.
Igarashi: That of Mito Komon or that of Onmitsu Doshin? (laughs)
Ohkawa: More like Onmitsu Doshin (laughs).

Did the publisher put on any conditions?

Ohkawa: They asked us for a story that had some element of mystery, but it wasn’t necessary for it to have detectives. We asked them if we could adapt The Legend of Chung Hyang and they said yes. Then they just checked the plot development, I think they didn’t change a lot of things.

I guess the title derives from the original.

Mokona: Yes. Although in Japanese, the original Korean should be read Shunkoden, we thought it sounded too loud, that’s why we chose the Shunkaden reading for the title, which is Shin Shunkaden in Japanese.

The personality of Chung Hyang is very different from that of the original story.

Ohkawa: The original Chung Hyang was difficult to capture in a visual format. It was a compendium of feminine virtues and that is always a bit tedious when telling a story using images (laughs).
Nekoi: In the manga it is her mother, Myonghua, who is closest to the original character of Chung Hyang.
Mokona: That is not the only difference, here Mong Ryong is an official who also knows how to do magic (laughs).
Ohkawa: Yes, of course.
Nekoi: For some reason, this version of Chung Hyang has become more popular in Japan than the original.
Mokona: I guess it’s because we have introduced aspects of the art of Ying and Yang.

Did you know that story would be limited to a single volume?

Ohkawa: No, it ended up like this due to change of magazines (laughs). At first, the idea was for Chung Hyang to go with Mong Ryong to meet “that person” he was talking about. There were several adventures and in the end they reached the capital and discovered who “that person” really was.

So the story, at this point…

Ohkawa: It is in a dead end. It is a story that ended when it had just begun.

The research must not have been simple.

Ohkawa: We had a hard time finding reference works. The hanbok (Korean traditional costume) is a bit like the kimono, it is impossible to know how it is worn if you don’t wear one yourself. So I ended up visiting an acquaintance to show me how it was.
Mokona: Yes, because the way to move and sit is not like that of the Japanese.
Ohkawa: And to get up they bend the knee.
Nekoi: For the first chapter, set in Ryonhi, we didn’t have enough material, but we tried to compensate for it by correcting movements and postures for the second part, in Suweol.
Igarashi: In the end we tried the hanbok ourselves (laughs).
Mokona: We also didn’t know what kind of landscapes to draw (laughs).
Ohkawa: We rely on the photos of a traditional tourist town. It was the only thing we had… (laughs). But even with that we still didn’t know what the houses were like inside.
Mokona: Same as castles. In the end it turned out to be a mix between Korean and Japanese (laughs). Fantasy has those things (laughs).

The first chapter is drawn with a brush, like Shirahime Syo. Did you want to repeat the experience?

Ohkawa: Yes, although the truth is that we realized that with the brush it was difficult to do the small details well and in the scenes in which magic is used, in particular, it was impossible to use only the brush. So from the second chapter we decided to use a marker for everything.

A lot of time passed between the magazine’s chapters and the volume edition, is there any particular reason?

Ohkawa: When we took out chapter two, they asked us to redraw the entire first chapter with a marker, so that the effect would be the same and they didn’t mind waiting until we could do it. The problem is that a lot of time passed and by then our drawing style had varied so much that redrawing it turned out to be very strange and in the end it stayed as it was. The truth is that I prefer it that way, we clearly see our way of drawing at that time.

A story drama CD was also released.

Ohkawa: Yes, it seems that the producer liked the story (He already liked it ever since it was a simple project). So there was a drama CD before there even was a compilled book (laughs).

The script of the CD is from Ohkawa, but who was responsible for choosing the actors?

Ohkawa: That was the producer. The only thing I did was to suggest Akiko Ikeda for the role of Chung Hyang’s mother.

Do you have plans to continue the story?

Mokona: I would like to continue it if I could.
Nekoi: Who will be that person she should meet?
Igarashi: Everyone must be asking that themselves (laughs).
Ohkawa: Ah, but that’s a secret (laughs).


[1] Mito Kōmon (水戸黄門) is a Japanese period drama that was on prime-time television from 1969 to 2011 making it the longest-running in Japanese television history. The title character is the historic Tokugawa Mitsukuni, former vice-shōgun and retired second daimyō of the Mito Domain (Wikipedia).

Translated from Spanish by Chibi Yuuto.


Interview originally published in CLAMP No Kiseki vol. 11 (Kodansha), page 23, released on July 22, 2005. Original text available upon request.

If you found mistakes in this translation or would like to contribute with translating other interviews, please contact me.