Cho Seok’s webcomic series The Sound of Your Heart came to an end this year after its 1229th episode. It had a run that spanned 14 years (2006-2020), making it the longest-running webcomic in Naver Webtoon’s history. In celebration, What to do in Korea has asked me to make a list of my top 10 favorite episodes of The Sound of Your Heart (between #1-200).
The series follows the exploits of a fictionalized Seok, his family, and his girlfriend Aebong. It’s something between a gag cartoon strip and a sitcom. It’s hilarious and will make you laugh out loud, but its characters are also real enough to make you feel an emotional connection to them. To a foreign reader, the comic also doubles as a window into the culture of the Korean family (in a manner similar to how The Simpsons gives foreigners a window into American culture).
Cho Seok’s Unique Drawing Style
Seok has a unique, rough, lively drawing style. His drawings feel like a punk rock rebellion against other webtoons, which tend to follow current stylistic norms very closely.
Seok’s drawings are also hilarious. A lot of the humour from the comic comes directly from his drawing style (which is one of the reasons why I thought the Netflix show based on the comic couldn’t quite capture the mood of his work). The way Seok is able to convey his fictionalized self’s anxiety, Aebong’s brutality, and Mr. Cho’s apathy through facial expressions and body language will often lead you to laugh before the gag’s payoff is revealed. The surreal and humorous way in which violence is depicted in the comic might be where Seok’s drawing style shines the most.
Cho Seok’s Writing
The main goal of Seok’s writing is to make the reader laugh. He succeeds at this by coming up with many creative gags that will catch you off guard. A typical episode will contain 5-10 gags, all revolving around the same theme.
Seok’s strength as a writer, however, extends far beyond his ability to make you laugh. He is somehow able to depict everyday Korean life in a very honest way, while still irreverently satirizing it through surreal and over-the-top comedic situations.
Seok is also able to convey very real, multidimensional relationships between his characters, even though these characters rarely talk about their emotions. The episodes mainly consist of gag setups and punchlines, but there is a strong feeling that the characters are living full lives outside of the weekly gags that get posted to Webtoon.
When reading the series, you may be confused by the disjointed way in which Seok shifts backwards and forwards in time without giving the reader any notice (I was – the adult and child versions of the characters often look exactly the same ), but you will get used to this.
Top 10 Episodes of The Sound of Your Heart Between #1-200
I would only recommend that a reader start The Sound of Your Heart from Episode #1 if they are interested in seeing Cho Seok’s progression as a cartoonist. For most readers, I would recommend beginning the series at Episode 14, The Compliment Man – this is where Cho Seok finds his grove. For those of you who are not interested in reading the whole series, but would like to get a taste of it, here are the top 10 episodes between #1-200:
Episode #22 – As Naturally as Possible
Seok tries to act “as naturally as possible” in order to avoid embarrassment.
Episode #31 – An Eye for an Eye
Seok and Aebong have a snowball fight that lasts way too long.
Episode #47 – Technologically Challenged
Seok’s mom needs some help getting new devices around the house to work.
Episode #54 – Never Go Full Lotus
Seok’s dad gets into trouble while exercising in a park.
Episode #87 – Why Did I Ask You to Play With Me
A young Seok spends some quality time with his dad.
Episode #135 – God
Seok’s friend gets a job at a bathhouse.
Episode #164 – Two of Everything
Seok gets revenge on his brother.
Episode #169 – Underworld
Seok finds himself in a bathroom stall with no toilet paper.
Episode #171 – The Siege
Seok and Aebong have another battle.
Episode #173 – My Day of Anger
Seok accidentally burns off his eyebrows and has to make do.