It was seven years in the making, but Tsuyoshi Kusanagi (36) has finished translating a best-selling Korean book into Japanese which will hit stores on February 4, it was revealed on January 8, reports Sankei Sports, Sports Hochi, and Daily Sports.
Fans of the pop star have long-known Kusanagi can speak Korean, and using the name Chonan Kang, the singer has already published how-to-speak Korean books in Japan. However, this is the first time Kusanagi has translated an existing book into Japanese.
Titled "月の街 山の街 (Tsuki no Machi Yama no Machi)" in Japanese, it has been reported Kusanagi had spent around a year working on translating the book's 29 short stories. Each story depicts real life events from people living in Korea's slums.
"I'm very happy that this book is now within everyone's reach," he said.
The original book was released in several volumes in Korea between 2000 and 2004 and has sold more than 3.6 million books to date.
It has been reported that in 2003, Japanese publisher Wani Books had approached Kusanagi and said they were willing to wait years for the book to be finished if the pop star would accept the translating job.
"It was a book that warmed your heart with its depiction of kindness and happiness. I wanted to do it," Kusanagi said.
After making some changes to his work schedule, Kusanagi had started working on translating the stories from spring 2010 and spent his free time in between jobs, in the middle of the night, or early in the morning working on the book.
"The way people put their family first and how they show affection are expressed in a characteristic Korean way in the book. The way they think and feel are different from Japanese people and even if people find some of their ways uncomfortable, those 'good uncomfortable' things are what fascinate me about Korea. I enjoyed my time translating this. I learnt a lot and I hope to be involved in more Korean projects and meet more people," he said.
What makes this book release exceptional was that although many other singers such as Hikaru Utada (27) have already translated books, these have mainly been from English to Japanese and not Korean to Japanese. Another point is many books translated by other celebrities have generally been children's books, making Kusanagi's involvement in translating a non-fiction novel another achievement.