Summer CSGC Grant Update: Raising Mental Health Awareness in South Korea

This summer, I had the opportunity to spread awareness about mental health and the suicide hotline in my home country. Initially, I had planned to campaign using physical objects like posters. However, I found a more effective way of spreading awareness in the digital space: crafting a webtoon(digital comic) and uploading it on Korea’s most prominent internet platform-Naver. Because webtoon is so popular among the young generation in Korea, Naver has a specific Webtoon section where amateurs can upload and share their digital comics online. This webtoon will be more accessible for a more extended period compared to physical posters.

I planned to make a webtoon based on a real story of a person who overcame mental illness and prospered afterward to deliver the message of hope. After my research, I decided to incorporate Johnny Cash’s suicide attempt story in the webtoon and also promote the suicide hotline in Korea at the end of the webtoon.

Making a webtoon process consists of two parts: writing a script for each slide and drawing based on the script. I planned to write a script and hire a webtoon drawer to portray the script.

I started by writing a general outline for my story. Then, I referenced examples of storyboards for webtoons and included elements such as lines, transitions, intentions of specific slides, and expected cuts per scene. Throughout this process, I researched details of Cash’s suicide attempt story. I included several lines of his song ‘Hurt’ in the script to deliver the message of hope. After communicating back and forth with the professional webtoon drawer, my webtoon was ready for its publication.

While crafting the webtoon, I also contacted Korea’s suicide hotline department. They permitted me to include their number in my story to promote the hotline.

Finally, my webtoon was uploaded and posted in the digital space to spread mental health awareness and promote the hotline on August 16, 2022. I hope that more people needing help will be comforted by my webtoon and realize the helpful resource around them.

Following is the link to my webtoon:

-Mike Lee ’24