I was just starting this series when I did my last Webtoons recommendation. I thought that I would have gotten into more series but… I have not. This series also happens to have enough going for it that I don’t mind making it a stand alone.
That series is “LOST in TRANSLATION” by jjolee. I started reading back in February, and quickly devoured what was available in about a day. In July, the series got a big announcement that it was becoming a Webtoons original! So congratulations to jjolee for that huge accomplishment!
Moving forward, lets take a look at the description of the Webtoons; a story of a misunderstood idol and the misfortunes that follow him. (Being moved to Webtoons originals.)
From the get-go, while the tags read drama, and slice of life; theres a lot more to this story. Were introduced to Wyld, or Jaewon actually wanting to sue the CEO of his production company for framing him. Which, is a rather unique place to start a story revolving around idols, but leads to a very unique set up and style.
Especially when I was first reading, I completely forgot the story was being told retroactively from Wyld. That’s a very serious compliment because that means all the elements are in place to really submerge yourself in whats being told. LOST in TRANSLATION (LoT) tells a very common story; your idols are not who you think they are, and powerful people will always spin the narrative in ways you’ll never know about.
I can sense some eye rolling already. I said it was a common story. However, I think with the rise of Kpop, and the focus of this being based in South Korea on a fictional boy band, stories like this are more important then ever. Kpop has a fantastical cover of glitz, glamor and success inside and outside of South Korea. These are people blessed with beauty, wealth, and opportunity! They’re model upstanding citizens that also are crazy talented, with loyal legions of fans. What could possibly be going on behind the scenes?
Then we are hit with the reality of the situation; Burning Sun Scandal, Drug Scandals (I linked TOP of Big Bangs for reference but there are many others), Prostitution (I linked G.NA’s story but again there are many others), and that is a fraction of what happens. Some of these are themes within the story, and LoT covers many more incidents that come with being an idol.
That being said, I need to make it clear that I am not condemning Kpop as being the largest offender of these crimes. Any and every music industry in the world is plagued with these problems, some even worse then you can imagine. However, given the interest in Kpop since its becoming a global power, stories like these are incredibly important to be told. The truth is much closer in fiction then we are lead to believe.
That being said, Lost in Translation is not a completely dark series. Yes, it highlights some of the worst moment but there are positive moments as well. The camaraderie between group members and label mates, the relationship between fans and bands, big and small successes and so much more! The story strikes the perfect balance of positive and upbeat moments, and darkness, much like how it truly works in the industry.
Combined with the art style, and even outside medias the author has created for Mayhem its a really fantastic story thats taken on more elements then most. The author really seems to love not only their story, but the characters and fans and it shows.
I said that I’ve mostly moved away from Kpop, and that is largely true looking at my SNS being rather barren of that content. I still have a soft spot for a few groups, and for stories like this, especially being told so well. Even if idols aren’t your thing, I hope you’ll give “LOST in TRANSLATION” a read. theres so much more then just idol that exists in the story.