Forest of Gray City

Forest of Gray City Volumes 1 and 2 by Jung-hyun Uhm (amazon)

Forest of Gray City has been on my “to read” list for a while. Since reading so much manga about kids in high school can sometimes get a little old, I try to keep an eye out for stories featuring characters in other stages of life. It is of course a big change to read books about twentysomething women with messed up love lives instead of reading manga about high school girls with messed up love lives. This was a nice josei series that is complete in two volumes.

Yun-Ook is a freelance graphic designer. She has a hard time making ends meet, so she decides to rent out a room in her apartment. She’s so desperate for extra cash, she’s willing to accept a male roommate. She’s sometimes distracted when she looks out the window and sees a solitary man on the bridge outside her house. She wonders what he’s doing.

Yun-Ook goes out drinking with her friends and is carded by a young waiter. Later when she’s drowning her sorrows alone, that same waiter ends up on her doorstep looking for a place to stay. His name is Bum-Moo. At first they lead entirely separate lives, only running into each other for a few minutes each morning. But they begin to share the mundane routine of daily life, watching tv, fixing dinner, and bringing umbrellas to the subway stop for each other when its raining. Bum-Moo asks Yun-Ook if it is ok if he has a crush on her. She simply says “No.” and starts to avoid him.

Yun-Ook learns that Bum-Moo’s only 17 years old, with some complicated family drama that has lead to him being on his own. He also has a habit of standing on bridges, looking at the morning break. When his long-lost stepsister shows up, Yun-Ook and Bum-Moo’s relationship starts to get even more complicated. Bum-Moo has to help out his step-sister, while Yun-Ook struggles with her feelings for him.

I enjoyed this series. My main criticism of it is that the ending felt a little rushed. I would have happily read a third volume, learning more about the characters before Yun-Ook and Bum-Moo’s relationship was resolved. There are so few manga series out there featuring working women, this manhwa is definitely worth a read if you are looking for some good josei.