A daily and emotional writing mobile application developed by two students is much sought after these days. It was even selected as “The Most Beautiful App of 2016” by Google Korea. The app Sseum provides topics that people can write freely about. People nowadays enjoy communicating simply with pictures and they have fun sharing their lives with photos. In this respect, the writing app is quite unique. Sseum’s feature, that tranquilizes mind, has attracted people.
Sseum has achieved remarkable results in just two years. The average number of users per day has now reached 16,000. The two men who like to read and write granted people a personal space where they can feel free to write whatever they want. The Argus met these two college students who made texts gain ground through their writing app.
The Argus: Could you please introduce yourselves briefly?
Lee Yun-jae: Hello, we are the developers of the writing app Sseum. My name is Lee Yun-jae and I am 27 years old. I major in Design & Human Factors engineering and minor in Computer Engineering at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST).
Lee Ji-hyung: I am Lee Ji-hyung, 24 years old. My major is Computer Engineering and my minor is Industrial Design. I am now working on the app Sseum with Lee Yun-jae.
The Argus: Please introduce the app “Sseum.”
Sseum developers (Sseum): Sseum is an app that enables daily writing. We offer writing materials such as “seasons” and “entrust” every day at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Users can write anything related to the given words. People can decide on whether to make their writings public or not. Users can read other people’s stories and can also subscribe if they want to follow the writer’s work. However, there are no likes and comment features.
The Argus: Why did you become interested in developing apps?
Sseum: Ever since we were in high school, we had the dream of one day creating our very own app. We noticed that physical products and merchandise tend to have limits when they spread across society, but software, especially apps, have a relatively powerful ripple effect.
Apps can influence a lot of people through a small, virtual space called Play store and App store. We wanted to share our experiences and thoughts. To fulfill this, we thought an app would be a perfect fit.
The Argus: Why did you develop an app about writing of all things?
Sseum: To be honest, we had invented many other apps before Sseum became successful. After a few failures, we started to focus on things we like and what could be truly meaningful and useful for the people. Then, we came up with the idea of writing. Within the limits of our skills, developing a writing app seemed most appropriate to realize our common interest in the form of an app.
We felt the necessity of an app like Sseum. There are no spaces to write comfortably. Social media is too open and a notebook is a burden to carry all the time. Some even have difficulty choosing what to write about. We wanted to help those who have similar concerns.
The Argus: What do you think is the charm of writing?
Sseum: Entry barriers to writing are comparatively low. Pictures and photos are not very easy things to deal with and they have certain limits when expressing sophisticated thoughts. However, in terms of writing, anyone can write and it is effective in conveying feelings. The depth of the expression is outstanding, too. We can write, revise and ruminate over the words we have written.
Writing is also a perfect form of communication. It is not instantaneous which allows it to be more complete. The reason we like books can be understood in the same context. By talking, people get to know what others think, but a speaker cannot fully deliver everything during a conversation. Meanwhile, books cover the limitations talking has, in that the writers can convey their message in the most refined and organized way.
The Argus: How did people react to Sseum?
Sseum: Many users are showing us warm and supportive reactions. Although we cannot meet with every user to ask what they think about Sseum, we can feel their positive attitude toward us, through reviews posted on Play store or App store. Many people felt very good about writing down things that could not easily be said.
Some said that thanks to Sseum, time spent in writing became an important part of their daily routine. We are proud to see people using our app in the way that we intended. People often gently suggest improvements for our app. We always feel affection for Sseum in those regards and we do not want to let our users down.
The Argus: Were there any difficulties in developing Sseum?
Sseum: It was hard for us to study and work on the app at the same time. After taking classes, we met up at the cafe and we talked and worked for hours. It was the final exam period when we launched Sseum. To work with the app and study all night, we often fell asleep during our classes. The collision of two different egos was difficult. In the beginning, we were able to work as a pure creator, not a company operator. However, once we started to provide service, we had to work as businessmen. Although we have had some difficulties, we overcame them with our firm sense of duty and responsibility.
The Argus: At what moment did you feel rewarded?
Sseum: We feel rewarded when we see people using our app. We think making an app is a performance that lets others experience certain feelings and events we have designed. We are thrilled when we find out that people are enjoying Sseum as we intended. Some make use of Sseum in greater ways than we anticipated.
The warm support of our users is absolutely rewarding. We met some active users the other day and they worried about our livelihood. They wondered whether it is a profitable business and they were even frightened about the possibility of Sseum disappearing. We exist thanks to such users.
The Argus: What is your plan for the future?
Sseum: As users, not developers of Sseum, we often admire some stories and want to let those writers know that someone really likes their writing. However, it is impossible. The function for communication was excluded at first because we wanted people to focus solely on the writing itself, not on factors such as likes and comments.
Nonetheless, we are now planning to make it possible by interpreting the meaning of interaction in our own way. We have provided a virtual space for free writing that did not previously exist in the meantime. Our goal is to become an indispensable companion when someone wants to write.
The Argus: What would you like to say to your readers?
Sseum: It may sound like a cliche, but life is not always fun. Almost every day is full of hardships, but occasionally there are moments of joy that give us the power to keep on going. We sometimes think of the paths we have not walked. There may be easier paths.
What we are doing right now is creating apps. There are no manuals in this field. Failed cases fade away and only successes remain. Sometimes, we do not know where we are or what we are doing.
However, when we get a positive response from the people who enjoy the fruit of our hard work, we gain the courage to walk on difficult paths again. We want this feeling of happiness. We hope readers do not miss the rewards and joy in life to continue hidden behind their hardships.
They have experienced the benefits of written words in communicating. To share that experience with others, they created a place called Sseum. When the reporter asked what writing means to them, Lee Yun-jae said, “What is writing? I cannot easily answer that.” Finally, he replied that writing is difficult.
Writing is complicated for them too, but they made Sseum in the hope that others would have a good experience in writing, like they had. To help people get close to and be more familiar with writing, they are working hard.
Reporter of Culture Section