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Today, I’m going to talk about Under the Oak Tree, a web novel writte by Sooji Kim, adapted into a webtoon. I recently discovered it thanks on Facebook.
Here is the synopsis:
The daughter of a duke, the stuttering Maximilian, married a knight of lowly status at her father’s coercion.
After their first night, her husband departed for an expedition without another word.
He comes back three years later, this time as a famous knight on the whole continent.
How would Maximilian face him on his return?
Usually, this kind of advertising always makes me laugh because the script is too pathetic, but this webtoon looks very different from the others. I started to read the first 5 chapters. I liked it. I then looked for another website where I could read until the 20th chapter. Then I discovered that the webtoon was an adaptation of a web novel, and I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s page-turning.
Apparently, in Korea, they have platforms where they release many novels and webtoons like these. One chapter a week, and readers pay just a few euros a month to read unlimited novels. It’s like a series, so the more readers there are, the more money the author earns, so there’s no word or chapter limit. The author can afford to develop the story as much as he or she wants. Regular releases build a fan-base. People do fan art on Twitter, Instagram… to draw their favorite scenes or imagine the scenes they want to see. There are even interviews, FAQs with the author to ask questions and ask for certain scenes in future chapters. This is the first time I discover this concept, and I find it very smart.
Thanks to its unique history, Under the Oak Tree has been able to create a large international fan base across multiple sites and platforms, since at the moment, all translation is handled by volunteers, and we are like drug addicts on the lookout for every new translation.
What is interesting in this novel is the story. So, I warn you: at the beginning, it looks like an erotic novel (new romance or fantasy romance, even if the webtoon cuts off a lot of sexy scenes so it wouldn’t look like hentai), but the more the story goes on, the more we immerse ourselves in a fantasy world, a mix of The Lord of the Rings, The Witcher, and Harry Potter. There is also a “school” for wizards, the 7 kingdoms, a medieval castle, games of thrones, monsters to fight, battles… Everything I love! The heroine started as a fragile being, victim of parental abuse, to a true independent heroine.
Secondly, the psychology of the characters is hyper-realistic and logical. The main character, treated as a useless girl by her father, suffers so much from her inner wounds and reacts according to what she has always known: fear. Even if it is difficult to understand her husband’s (Riftan’s) behavior initially, things become much clearer and more logical as time goes by. The readers are the only ones who know the whole truth, and there are many very moving scenes where, because of each other’s inner wounds, they suffer without daring to tell the other what they really think. Some mini-details were thought to be insignificant but make sense 50 chapters later. This proves that the author is detail-oriented and, above all, has a logical framework from the beginning.
The webtoon is very nicely drawn and follows the novel perfectly. What is interesting compared to the novel is that the webtoon does not limit itself to the heroine’s point of view but allows itself some liberties from time to time, showing scenes that happen when the heroine is not there. Besides, the format is suitable for mobile. Scenes in landscape format are also tilted vertically so that readers can see them better. The drawings are exceptionally rich in detail and the dresses! ahalala, the heroine’s dresses are sooooo beautiful. Of course, the hero is super handsome, and the secondary characters are very funny. Each square is drawn with care.
For the moment, the author has released :
- The first book in Korean, with 193 chapters with Maximilian’s point of view. Available (for a fee) on Ridibooks
- A bonus in Korean with 44 chapters with Riftan’s point of view. Available (for a fee) on Ridibooks
- The second book in Korean. The first 106 chapters are out, but the author has been taking a break for several months due to health problems. Available (for a fee) on Ridibooks
- The webtoon in English, based on the first book, is currently being released, with a new chapter per week (we are at 21 chapters at the time of writing this article on 10/03/2021). Available (for a fee) on Manta Comics
The volunteers translated part of the first book. Be careful. The number of the chapters of the translations does not correspond to the number of the Korean novel. One Korean chapter = two English chapters. So I can read 1/4 of the first novel in English at Light Heaven Novel.
For the rest, as the translation is stopped, for royalties and during the negotiation to provide an official translation (and paid for by international fans), international fans must :
- either pay Ridibooks access to read in Korean (using Google Translate ahahha)
- or read the spoilers on dedicated sites and groups.
- I also read the spoilers and psychological analysis of the characters on this forum. A few bilingual members translate the most important passages and notably part of the 44 bonus chapters where the author presents the story from Riftan’s perspective.
Apparently, some Korean fans don’t like international fans that much, considering us as parasites who don’t pay and don’t pronounce the characters’ names correctly (oops). Some go as far as asking why we are allowed to enable automatic translation on Ridibooks. So the international fans are rather in low profile mode.
If an official translation exists, we will be the first to pay for access. Many of us are already paying for access to Ridibooks without understanding Korean to contribute financially.
In this article, I show you how to purchase the novel directly on Ridibooks.
In short, I highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful story to discover.
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