Hot summer is coming soon, and you will need a way to cool down. There is a YouTuber who gained popularity with absorbing storytelling and contents which send a chill down your spine no less than horror movies which make you forget the heat.
Lee Seung-joo entered HUFS in 2002 and graduated from the Dept. of English for Interpretation and Translation. She is now managing a YouTube channel and Kakao TV as “Deeva Jessica,” having quit a steady job. Among her contents, “Saturday Mystery,” which tells about mysterious events of every kind in the world records continuously a high number of views each time even without subtitles. The Argus met Lee who now tells her own story and the story other people are wondering about as a creator and storyteller.
The Argus: Please introduce yourself.
Lee Seung-joo (Lee): I am Lee Seung-joo, a creator for YouTube and Kakao TV under the name of “Deeva Jessica.” I first started with English related contents. However, I thought language is something that could be enjoyed, so now I am making various contents on mysteries, daily life, movies, and current news considering viewers’ needs. I also tell stories about issues in the past and am now focusing on facts in “Friday Affair File.” Furthermore, I tell subscribers about movie story lines.
The Argus: What was the motive for creating “Saturday Mystery” contents?
Lee: It has been nearly three and a half years since making Saturday Mystery contents. I could persist for a long time because I had a lot of interest in rare mysterious stories in the world. I liked to do storytelling so much that I told the audience about American culture, and there was a big response to the story about haunted houses which I visited in the U.S. I thought that mystery contents could be a new way.
Then, I researched the YouTube market overseas. In the YouTube markets in the U.S. which is well ahead of Korea’s, the mystery contents have grown into a channel, and I mimicked those channel growth models to fit into the Korean market.
The Argus: How do you sort out topics in Saturday Mystery?
Lee: I address topics that people have an interest in. Rather than always talking about mysterious events, I include scientific and historical parts. In the process, I filter out stories that are too provocative or stories which I feel that many people in society are not curious about.
The Argus: What do you think of the issue regarding the reliability of the contents?
Lee: Saturday Mystery contents are not focused on reliability. I think there is a limit on guaranteeing the reliability of mysterious ghost stories. It could be my fault if “Friday Affair File” is unreliable.
However, regarding Saturday Mystery, I totally ignore the controversy over dependability of unverified mysteries because even the critics will be unable to tell whether the story is true or not.
The Argus: What special effort do you put into the storytelling?
Lee: I think 15 minutes of Saturday Mystery storytelling is like a short story with four steps in composition. Instead of just saying “Someone died someday” and “Someone saw something scary sometime,” I tend to tell stories to raise people’s sense of tension, concentrate on the flow, and get them interested in it like with movies and novels.
I pay attention to the details of the play so that I do storytelling in an acting tone rather than monotone. People find my contents suitable for ears, not for eyes, so I do not even add subtitles. To enhance the viewer’s immersion and maximize the mood, I also concentrate on makeup, clothes, and a separate studio which was created for Saturday Mystery.
The Argus: How do you respond to people’s reactions?
Lee: Of course I care about feedback. However, people’s feedback sometimes feels very painful and sensitive as a creator. I think I should balance that out. I am able to listen to their advice, but 100 million subscribers’ tastes are quite diverse, and I cannot please everyone. That is why I do not mind listening to their opinions, but I do not want to lose my own flair.
The Argus: Have you made any other efforts based on feedback?
Lee: There has been a lot of feedback on the length of the video. If I upload videos that are less than 10 minutes, there is feedback like, “It was too short,” and “It was insincere,” even if that original content is just short.
Because of that, I changed my storytelling technique so that my subscribers can enjoy the horror through expanded stories. It makes it possible for people to get a longer overall feeling for the story. Thus, I am starting to get good at talking 10 to 15 minutes longer, about 5 minutes per story.
The Argus: What was your most impressive memory?
Lee: Back in October of 2017, there was a seminar in the Asia Pacific region where YouTube representatives from each country gathered. This was the first time for it to be held in the Asia Pacific region.
The seminar was about how the future YouTube market will develop. There I gave a speech about my experience training co-creators and helping them build their own channels. It was the first time that a Korean YouTuber gave a speech there, and I was very proud of that.
The Argus: Do you have any concerns working as a creator?
Lee: My problem now is that I want to quit the Saturday Mystery, which is my most popular content. I grew up through it, but I am getting tired of it because it has so many dark stories.
You want to see light when you are in the dark. I want to address stories that make people feel more relaxed, warm, and moved than sad.
The Argus: What did you do before hand?
Lee: I worked for a foreign accounting consulting firm and worked at a foreign bank on accounting audits. First of all, I did not think it was interesting. It was a very difficult place for women to survive for a long time, and I thought, “I’m a little tired.”
Through the writers I knew, I got a chance to appear on a local TV program and thought, “Oh, I have this kind of talent.” I wanted to give it a try in my favorite platform at that time. Afreeca TV was an easy platform to start on and I have come this far. I moved platforms onto YouTube and Kakao TV because of their future value.
The Internet broadcasting platform is now becoming the main platform for teenagers and those in their 20s, and its emphasis on autonomy without imposing any sanctions made me think that it would be negative regarding my long-term broadcasting career.
The Argus: Tell us about your future career plans.
Lee: As I grew up as a one-man media creator, I felt that there was a limitation to working alone in order to grow the media more and more. The growth was faster when I concentrated only on the air and worked with someone who could get my 10-hour work done in five hours.
However, not everyone knows about this, so I started off with a team that could help me. I also thought that our system could help other creators by sharing a manager, editor, and photographer. I would like to build a foundation to become a bigger company with various experiences. I hope the company will grow into diverse areas in the next 10 or 20 years.
The Argus: What you would like to say to HUFSans as a graduate?
Lee: I did not set many goals during my college years. My goal was not getting a job. “To be good at English” was the only goal for me at that time, so I simply set the goal and concentrated on that. Having accomplished it, I was able to do a lot of things after wards.
HUFS is a university with a very special name, and it has the best education in foreign languages in the country. I did not know it very well until I was outside of the school realm after graduation.
I think HUFSans deserve to have the best self-esteem in studying culture, region and language. I am very proud of having come from this school. The professors are real experts from all over the world. You will know that when you graduate from school.
“I always even forget about the slump.” These words best convey her positive attitude, contrary to her mystery contents. She is a person who loves herself dearly and is not reluctant to take on challenges toward new things. She always go for a way she wants to go and knows what will make herself pleasant. She is dreaming of becoming someone’s life mentor through her story.
By Seo Eun-sol
Reporter of Campus Section