The various findings in “Chicago Typewriter”: translations on the manuscripts + famous authors quotes resonate with Yoo Ah In

“Chicago Typewriter” has reached episode 4 with moderate ratings (which is not bad, though, as long as the writing is doing well!), and it especially garners more positive comments from Korean netizens as the story progresses.

Translated by Kpople:

Episode 3: “Chicago Typewriter Yoo Ah In Made Go Kyung Pyo A Ghostwriter, Im Soo Jung Came Back Again”

[Note: 73% female, 38% 30-something readers]

1. [+905 -234] So fun, really fun. Today’s episode is insane. Tsundere

2. [+753, -199] Yoo Ah In’s so cute being jealous

3. [+718, -199] Is this a different drama from the first and second episodes? It has gotten so good all of a suddenㅜㅜㅜㅜㅜㅜㅜ

4. [+616, -178] Ah It was so heart fluttering that I was about to die. ‘Tsun Tsun’ [tsundere] appeal ㅜㅜㅜ

5. [+593, -179] This is really fun, but why is he using a ghost writerㅠㅠ It’s Yoo Ah In’s dream, so can’t he just write it himself.. That Gal Ji Seok? Is he lying or something ㅋㅋ Yoo Ah In’s so handsome and Lim Soo Jung’s so pretty

Episode 4: “Chicago Typewriter Yoo Ah In, Kwak Si Yang, Ghostwriter and Im Soo Jung”

[Note: 74% Female, 29% 30-something readers]

1. [+2126, -130] It was so funny when Yoo Ah In asked how he looks in person ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

2. [+1950, -203] Yoo Ah In’s head shape is pretty, so he even looks good with that kind of hairstyles…

3. [+1665, -164] As expected of Yoo Ah In, he’s so good at ranging scenes

4. [+1450, -188] This drama gets better as it progressesㅠㅠㅠ

5. [+1135, -157] How do I wait till next weekㅠㅠ

6. [+432, -51] The burning papers at the end looked so awesome…

7. [+427, -52] This drama gets more interesting as it moves on… and Yoo Ah In’s good at acting~

8. [+403, -54] As expected, Yoo Ah In is Yoo Ah In.. his acting skills are superb

9. [+371, -44] Looks like the drama is really starting now. Anticipating

10. [+350, -41] When I first started watching, I couldn’t really understand Han Se Joo’s emotions and it looked like it was too exaggerated, but now I can understand why after watching her story.

One of the things that I lurrveee about “Chicago Typewriter” is Writer Han Se Joo’s house interior design. It is filled with books in nearly every room! His library and writing room have towering giant bookshelves touching the ceiling. The alcoves and the corners are filled with books too. That house is a heaven for every bookworm! I wanna live there!

(source: drama staff instagram)


Another thing that I LOVE about the drama is the quotes taken from the world’s famous authors, including Yoo Ah In’s favorite Andre Gide, and these quotes intertwined all the aspects and the idea of the characters. If you notice closely, most of the quotes provided from episode 1 to 4 relate to “writer’s block”.


Episode 1

“Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.” – Steve Martin (1945~ )

“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” – Stephen King (1947~ )


Some writers believe writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s just another word for fear- fear of failure, of being exposed as a fraud, or feeling your writing isn’t good enough. In Han Se Joo’s case, after the stalker’s suicide incident, although he denied it out loud, deep down inside he feared that his writings [“dangerous writings”, as his father put it nicely] actually gave severe influence on his readers.

At the beginning of the series, Han Se Joo was touted as the Korean Stephen King. King is one of the key figures of Gothic, which was closely aligned with Romanticism in literature world. The Gothic concerns itself with elaborate tales of mystery, suspense, and superstition with physical and psychological settings. Today the word “romantic” evokes images of love and sentimentality, but the term “Romanticism” has a much wider meaning. Romanticists emphasize intense emotions, such as apprehension, horror, terror and awe–especially the beauty of nature and the glorification of all the past. King was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Besides King, the Gothic representative figures like Emily Bronte and Arthur Rimbaud, were also influenced by Poe. Poe himself was inspired by Lord Byron, the British poet.

Anyway, what if ghost writer Yoo is Han Se Joo’s muse? In the beginning, Han Se Joo indicated that he quitted writing romance or love story, but later, he got the idea of the 1930s love story [from Writer Yoo] through the dreams. His writing style changes accordingly.


Episode 2

“I have a hard and fast rule about who can read my stuff at this early stage – only my editor, my agent, and anyone who saves me from freezing to death in a car wreck.” – Misery, Stephen King (1947~ )

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway (1899~1961)

“Don’t get it right. Just get it written.” – James Thurber (1894~1961)

“Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the waters starts to flow.” – Louis L’Amour (1908~1988)


L’Amour’s complete quote: “If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.”

Lizzie Plender referring Hemingway to “raw writing”, “A kind of writing that forces you to scavenge the very essence of who you are. When you sit down to create this sort of literary artwork, you are forced to face every insecurity, doubt, and imperfection that ails you. This can be an incredibly daunting task, especially for someone who hides behind a mask of perfection. To be successful at this sort of writing, one must either be naturally uninhibited or clinically insane.”

James Thurber was best known for his cartoons and short stories, he was one of the most popular humorist of his time. Louis L’Amour was an American novelist and short story writer.

Both Thurber and L’Amor advise: don’t restrain yourself, sometimes we have to get out of our own way in order to get the words on the page. Once you gave yourself permission to write whatever scene you wanted rather than trying to stick to a timeline, the words came easier. 


Episode 3

“I just picked a book off the shelf and read it. And I put it back on the shelf. I’m already not the person I used to be.” – Andre Gide (1869~1951)

“Live always in the best company when you read.” – Sydney Smith (1771~1845)


Andre Gide is Yoo Ah In’s favorite author, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947 “for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keep psychological insight.” I still couldn’t find where his quote above was taken from, but this one is almost similar:

“I closed the book and remained, trembling, more alive than I had thought possible, my mind numb with happiness.” – Andre Gide, The Immoralist

[UPDATE] @DramaPhilosophy found the complete quote from hereAndré Gide quote was from “On Influence in Literature,” the text of his 1900 lecture. Thank you, @DramaPhilosophy 🙂

Gide’s complete quote:

I have read a certain  book; when I finished it, I closed it, put it back on the shelf in my library— but there were certain words in that book which I cannot forget. They have penetrated so deeply into me that I cannot separate them from myself. Henceforth, I am no longer the one I was before I met them. 

Sydney Smith was a British clergyman and a writer. He was also known for his humorous food poem, “A Recipe For Salad”. (Jane Austen expert Margaret C. Sullivan speculates that the character Henry Tilney, the romantic interest of the protagonist Chaterine Morland in Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” may have been based on Smith). Smith suggested to us that we should “live always in the best company when you read.” Smith’s suggestion might get explained by: “Great books enable us to learn from many teachers. Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory” – Proverbs 11:14


Episode 4

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” – Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron, 1788~1824)

“L’ecrivain original n’est pas celui qui n’imite personne, mais celui que personne ne peut imiter [An original writer is not who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate].” – François-René de Chateaubriand (1768~1848)


Byron was a British poet, peer, politician, and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. He was regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential. Byron’s complete quote: “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing. I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.”

Chateaubriand was a French writer, politician, diplomat, and historian, who is considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature. Byron was deeply impressed by his work René. The young Victor Hugo scribbled in a notebook, “To be Chateaubriand or nothing.”

Eugene O’Neill: When Se Joo asked his name, ghostwriter Yoo Jin quickly mentioned “Yoo Jin”, a play on the writer Eugene O’Neill whose painting is hanging on the writing room’s wall. At this point, we may have to dismiss earlier speculation that past Jeon Seol (Yoo Soo Yeon) is past Yoo Jin’s sister.

Ennui Young from Dramabeans discussion wrote an excellent analysis:

  1. The ghostwriter names himself after Eugene O’Neill, the Nobel Laureate of literature. O’Neill penned an one-act play called “Fog”, which explains the reason why the ghostwriter appears in the fog. The play depicts the encounter between a poet, a man of business, a peasant woman drifting together on a lifeboat near an iceberg concealed in the fog.
  2. his play has always been the theme of materialism and idealism of the conflict. The triad structure of “Chicago Typewriter” (Se Joo, Jeon Seol, the ghostwriter) resonates with that of O’Neill’s play. Most importantly, the tension between idealism and materialism has been a persistent theme in O’Neill’s works.

The conversation between Se Joo and Seol in SUBWAY kind of refers to O’Neill’s concern again: Se Joo got the fame, money, even deer–but does he really fulfill his dream of becoming a writer “whom nobody can imitate” as Chateaubriand envisions?

It’s also rather interesting that both of them adore Gothic/Romantic literature (both Chateaubriand and Byron are representative figures of Romanticism). The ghostwriter also helps him to write a “romantic” novel which Se Joo quitted writing after his writing was stolen. Together with the reference to Dali from the first episode, I am still convinced that the ghostwriter is the very “embodiment” of the inner trauma, his unconscious that has been suppressed even since a decade ago.

Still in the SUBWAY, Jeon Seol asking younger Han Se Joo why he writes, and he quotes Byron in reply, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad”. He wants to be a writer no one can copy. They both excitedly blurt out the originator of the quote: Chateaubriand.

Thank you for the in-depth analysis, Ennui Young! 🙂


And more best things that I found in “Chicago Typewriter” are how some lines ring true to Yoo Ah In himself, which could be the reason he picked this as his last work before enlistment.


The mountain scene

Jeon Seol’s words strike a chord with Yoo Ah In’s situation in real life [read: bone tumor and military issue]: “I heard that your talent will be taken away when you can’t overcome an obstacle.”

Yoo Ah In knows that parts of his journey will be hellish and hard, but the only thing that can make it worse is quitting. So, despite some people’s opinion against his decision, he keeps going and doing his passion (which is acting), making the struggle worth it by persisting. As Anne Bronte put it, “All our talents increase in the using, and the every faculty, both good and bad, strengthen by exercise.” This line conjures up Seol’s wishes in the SUBWAY scene.


The SUBWAY scene

Han Se Joo meets his first fan Jeon Seol 10 years ago in this fast food restaurant. Jeon Seol treats him with a free hot chocolate/cocoa and gives him encouragement words: “I hope that desperate attempt turns into something solid… I hope that it’d be just a fleeting ordeal you had to go through to be groomed into a phenomenal writer. I hope that all the suffering would just be a training process for you.”

Remember, in episode 1, Se Joo introduces himself as someone who drinks hot chocolate as a reward for hard work. Unconsciously, he still remembers the act of kindness he received 10 years ago. This scene truly resonates Yoo Ah In’s personal experience around ten or eleven years ago too, as he wrote in his minihompy.

[Ennui Young echoes my sentiment: “my favorite part of the drama so far is also the sequence between Se Joo and Seol as they walk down the alley all the way to Subway, and to the running away from paparazzi. The dialogue is wittily written and brilliantly acted by these two capable actors. The sequence flows flawlessly together, much more like a scene in the art house film (like director Hong Sang Soo‘s works) than in a K-drama. It begins with parodies and self-references to the romantic clichés popularized by internet fictions (and by K-dramas), to the heartfelt conversation on the purpose of writing and reading”]

This is the gist of the story, which I still remember, that Yoo Ah In wrote in his minihompy:

[Note: during that period, around 2006 or 2007, Yoo Ah In was still a struggling actor who loved writing. His first drama “Banolim/Sharp” (2004) was a huge hit (he had 300,000 members in his fancafe back then), but he couldn’t deal with his newfound stardom that he withdrew himself from the showbiz for more than a year, and went home to Daegu. He came back to rebuild his career alone in Seoul from the bottom, without much money or friends or connection, and almost fed up to a certain point–doubting himself and his decision to come back to showbiz]

Yoo Ah In said that he usually bought cheap food in the convenience store near his studio apartment. Sometimes he sat and ate there too [while pouring down his thoughts on his random writings]. One cold day, after he paid for the groceries with the money left in his pocket, the counter ahjumma, who’s also the owner of the store, put a chocolate/cocoa drink inside his plastic bag. He told her that he didn’t buy the drink, but she said it’s a gift because she was his fan [obviously she became his fan after watching “Banolim”]. Yoo Ah In was taken aback, since he thought nobody recognized him anymore. He felt his eyes turned hot and tears were about to come down. The lady said, “It’s been a long while. I missed you”, and prayed for his success. Yoo Ah In quickly said “thank you” and stormed out the store before she saw his tears. Yoo Ah In wrote that he would never forget her and always felt grateful for her kindness.

A simple, little kindness in the cruel city that he received certainly has restored his faith on his dream and humanity to a certain extent, and that what made him the Yoo Ah In we know now. [Note: until now, Yoo Ah In still loves hot chocolate/cocoa, just like Se Joo. Every time his fans sent the food truck to his filming sites, they always brought him hot/ice cocoa]. All in all, the SUBWAY scene is the utmost element in the drama that Yoo Ah In can relate.


The “Chicago Typewriter” manuscripts

Now, some people are wondering what ghostwriter Yoo actually wrote with the typewriter, as some pages were flashing several times in front of the camera.

@just_ahug_1 from Soompi forum translated the pages, and gave hints that the novel “Chicago Typewriter” might be actually Han Se Joo’s past biography. (Obviously, the original idea of 1930s Kyungsung love story of an activist and a writer was thrown in by the ghost writer Yoo Jin to Han Se Joo through his dream, which is not so original, because or if it is the story of Se Joo’s past). Let’s check it out~

This is just my speculation, but seems like Hwi Young [Se Joo from the past] might be more than what he lets on to Soo Hyun (past Jeon Seol). I mean Hwi Young in the past might just be wearing a mask as a cheap writer and might be actually writing something ‘good’.

In episodes 3 and 4, there are pages of the novel shown, and some interesting things from there that I’d like to share here:

The novel story, from the pages shown so far, is told from Seo Hwi Young (past Han Se Joo)’s perspective. I used third person POV in the translation just for the convenience.

1. Description of the first scene featuring the past characters, from the novel:

Starting from when Soo Hyun put the gun on the table:

“So what?” 

The words he blurted out sounded even blunt to his ears. For some reason, whenever he talked to ‘that kid’, his tone just didn’t sound very nice. Soo Hyun threw a question at him with a challenging gaze.

“Do you know the name of this gun?” 

He smiled. Of course he knew. He knew for sure, but he’d better feign ignorance.  

“Let’s see. What’s its name?” 

“It lets out sounds like the sounds of a typewriter, so it’s called Chicago typewriter”.  


2. The novel page shown in the last scene of episode 4:

This is the description in the novel of the scene showing Hwi Young rode and fell from his bicycle and met with Soo Hyun.

What I found interesting is the first three sentences:

조국은 빼앗겼지만 나에게서 문장을 빼앗을 순 없어   Even though my country has been taken away, they can’t take my words/sentences away from me.  

글을 쓸수 없다면 난 유령이나 다름 없으니까     If I cannot write, then I’m no different from a ghost. 

해방된 조선에서는 내가 쓰고 싶은 글을 미친 듯이 쓸거야     In a liberated Jo Seon, I’m going to write what I want, like crazy. [Note: this is exactly what Han Se Joo usually says, too] 

The rest of the description describes the following sequence: he rushed on his bike, and fell and Soo Hyun approaching, etc.

Lastly, Hwi Young asked Soo Hyun to type for him because his hand hurt from drinking and from the glass. Did he lie or was it the truth?

The novel written in Hangul seems truly intriguing. The description in the prose conveys a mysterious and charming, inexplicable vibe beyond what images can tell. No wonder the readers are going crazy over it.

Also in the novel, it’s described that Soo Hyun thinks of Yool (past Yoo Jin Oh) as both her teacher, and the person she’s grateful/indebted to. Yool took her under his wings from long time ago and taught her stuff, assembling guns is one of them.

So far, the pages of “Chicago typewriter” manuscript just cover the first scene/conversation about the gun’s nickname, and the bicycle scene. Other than that, nothing in the manuscript is about the kiss scene or the swing dance scene yet.

Thank you for sharing the translations, just_ahug_1 🙂

Can you imagine, if four episodes have gathered a LOT of insights and increased our literature knowledge off the Richter scale (or should I say; off the Gide scale), how are we gonna have after sixteen?

Check more reviews on “Chicago Typewriter” in dramabeans, or take a sip while reading in dramaswithdrinx coz we definitely need some booze.

More photos are in our Facebook page in the album “Chicago Typewriter – Drama 2017”


13 Responses to “The various findings in “Chicago Typewriter”: translations on the manuscripts + famous authors quotes resonate with Yoo Ah In”
  1. Mari says:

    Whoaaah I love this!! CT is a heaven for literature enthusiasts like me ❤❤❤

  2. Hager says:

    I love this insights,thank you for gathering it all together.

  3. Laura says:

    Reading his convenience store story made me choked Y.Y Now I understand why YAI picked this project.
    Love the authors quotes too ❤ And thanks a lot for translating what Writer Yoo wrote!

  4. Michykdrama says:

    This is awesome! Thank you for this! Im going to be linking this on my blog, hope you don’t mind. I’m a literature simpleton and failed it miserably in school (I was/am a science geek), but this drama has really piqued my interest. I can’t say I understand everything that everyone is saying, but it has really been very very enlightening and made me love the show just that bit more knowing that it has so many nuances within the storyline.
    Thank you again!

    • Furbabe says:

      Hi Mickykdrama! I’m glad you like this post and the show 😀 Of course I don’t mind you linking this in your blog. I hope the drama gets more love as the story is moving forward 🙂 You’re welcome!

  5. Yasuyo says:

    Thank you so much for the post with deep analysis and quotes!
    Though the author’s insight and metaphor are interesting, I was surprised to know Han Seju and his past paralleling to Yoo Ah In. ”More best things that I found in “Chicago Typewriter” are how some lines ring true to Yoo Ah In himself, which could be the reason he picked this as his last work before enlistment.” I agreed! And I read the hot choco episode with tears.
    I cannot wait till Friday night. Go for more, CT!

    • Furbabe says:

      Hi Yasuyo 😀 Yes, I was really surprised and moved too when I found out that Han Seju’s past had strikingly similar resemblance with Yoo Ah In’s. It makes me wonder if the writer knew about YAI’s past too, and that was the reason she picked him for the lead~^^

      Oh, sorry to tell you this, but this week they postponed the drama due to long holidays >.< So, no Chicago Typewriter this Friday & Saturday. But they will broadcast the BTS/footage this Saturday~^^ Episode 9 will resume next week at 8:30pm KST 🙂

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Amazingly, a short while after Eunni wrote this, A Philosopher’s Chair (whose blog I follow and is amazing!) brought to my attention another amazing blog post from Yoo Ah In Sikseekland written by Furbabe on “THE VARIOUS FINDINGS IN “CHICAGO TYPEWRITER”: TRANSLATIONS ON THE MANUSCRIPTS + FAMOUS AU… […]

  2. […] The show lost its initial audience who are interested in the portrayal of writing (read here and here) but picked up a different group of audience. Turning episode 14, quite a few mocked openly that […]

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