On Yaseng Tokki and His Demon


I started working on Yaseng Tokki and His Demon in 2003. Initially I wanted to write a thriller about the business of contemporary art; largely based on my professional experience working with one up and coming contemporary artist in London. My initial idea was to write a satirical guide about how to invest in contemporary art and make a killing.


I worked on it over weekends and late nights, but I lost my interest in the story when the first draft was completed. As a result, for the next 6 years I focused on other projects.

It was only when my writing caught the attention of a New York literary agent that I decided to approach Yaseng Tokki and His Demon with a commercial goal in mind. I felt it was about time to finalize a project up to a publishing format and take the business of writing more seriously.


I always felt I had a story to tell, and somehow, I also wanted to be heard. But rather than starting a new project I looked at the endless number of stories that I had parked over the years. Yaseng Tokki and His Demon was the project I decided to rescue from oblivion.


I picked Yaseng Tokki and His Demon because it had a simple pitch: ‘Famous art investor starts buying art from a famous contemporary artist in great quantities. Contemporary artist doesn’t know if it’s because his work is appreciated, or if investor wants him killed to sell his stock for a massive profit upon his death.’


Around 2013 the novel reached the format it has today. I felt I had written the novel I always wanted to read, and that was a satisfying and fulfilling thought.



Initial reception


The initial reception dazzled me. Some people advised me to keep writing, others were quite appalled, almost disgusted, with sections of the narrative.


Since it has never been my intention to disgust readers, I decided to soften a few sections of the story, but there was little I could do about it. Yaseng Tokki and His Demon is a story set in the world of contemporary art and in most cases, people are simply at odds with it.


However, contemporary art is an important aspect of living in a community. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. Which is one of the reasons why I am hoping Yaseng Tokki and His Demon will help to bridge the gap between the production of art these days and our lack of understanding about it.



Korean words


Yaseng Tokki means ‘Wild Rabbit’ in Korean.


In 2010 I visited Seoul, and fascinated by Korean culture, I decided to incorporate a few Korean words in the novel. As the writing evolved, these words ended up having a bigger role in the conclusion of the story than I had initially envisaged.



Present day


Towards the end of 2017 I started to edit the concepts about contemporary art that are discussed in the novel; and decided to add illustrations to several chapters, although this is still work in progress. I also published my initial sketches for the cover of the novel on Twitter.


Nevertheless, regardless of what Yaseng Tokki and His Demon may look in the future, the current version is ready to be shared. As such, I invite you to read it and let me know your thoughts, either you like contemporary art of not.


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