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23 Spring 2014

Special Section

Picture Books

Children’s Book Author Kwon Yoon-duck
Novelist Choi Jae-hoon
Spotlight on Fiction
The Gaze at Broad Daylight by Lee Seung-U
“Pale Shadows of Old Love” by Kim Kwang-kyu
Theme Lounge
SNS, the Double-edged Sword

ISSN 2005-2790
K O r e A N

Dreams Come to Life

Through Picture Books
The world is growing smaller. We can travel to a country on the other side of the world in
just one day. There are plenty of ways to talk to someone anywhere in the world if you set
your mind to it. We can easily access information from all over the world. It seems there is
no place we cannot reach, and nothing we cannot learn in this world.
But is that really true? There are times when we really do not know anything about
something that is closest to us-something we think we know better than anything else.
Something we do not know, but we think we do, is children. It has been said that the
lamentation, “Children these days . . .” was found on a Sumerian clay tablet written 5,000
years ago. Those same words are uttered today.
Adults who were once children themselves lament that they do not understand children
today. Why is it that children are so misunderstood? How can adults so completely forget the
fact that they, too, were children once? Are children not the most important subject for us to
study, understand and communicate with? Is it not important to understand how children
are prone to be lonely, sad, greedy, vulnerable, and fearful–and how we were once the same
We should remember that when we were young, how easily we were pleased with little
things, how willingly we offered to share what was ours with another, how quickly our
psychic wound healed, how fast we made friends, and how we could always discover new
energy and hope. On the other hand, we should also acknowledge how heartless, one-sided
and oppressive adults can be. If we can be faithful protectors and mentors to our children,
should we not be more devoted to these tasks than to anything else? Would the world not
be a better place if adults and children came to understand each other better, forgiving the
negative and embracing the positive? Could misunderstandings and quarrels between tribes
and nations not be resolved in the same way?
Children’s book writers are those who dream such dreams and children’s books reveal the
dreams of writers. In this special issue, we present you with the dreams of Korean children's
book writers. Today, Korean picture books are drawing worldwide attention. More and
more Korean illustrators are receiving the Bologna Ragazzi Award or Biennial of Illustration
Bratislava (BIB) awards. Among them, we would like to introduce six young artists in this
issue. Through unique and experimental works, they show us where we are as a society,
how children and adults can come to understand each other, and how they find the desired
direction for the future. Through their ingenuous illustrations, you can see how children’s
dreams bloom and fade. You can find the beauty of a tranquil city in their illustrations
influenced by Eastern traditional painting. At the same time, you can sense an apocalyptic
warning in incredibly detailed images, depicting a dark future. You can meet a lovable child,
© My Ball, Yoo Jun-jae, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.

moved to tears after hearing about other children in the world who lead difficult lives. You
can read a touching story about a father who devotes himself to raising his children, and a
son who reminisces about his affectionate father. From time to time, _list has introduced
picture books of Korea in previous issues, but this special issue is special indeed. You won’t
be disappointed.

by Kim Inae Sujung

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 1

Vol.23 Spring 2014
A Quarterly Magazine for Publishers




EDITORIAL BOARD Bok Dohoon Literary Critic

Kang Yu-jung Critic
Kim Ji-eun Children's Book Critic
Kim Mansu Professor, Inha University
Pyo Jeonghun Book Columnist

OVERSEAS Choi Kyeonghee University of Chicago

EDITORIAL ADVISORS Bruce Fulton University of British Columbia
Christopher P. Hanscom UCLA
Theodore Hughes Columbia University
Kim Yung-hee University of Hawai'i
David McCann Harvard University
Michael J. Pettid SUNY-Binghamton University
28 38
Janet Poole University of Toronto
Dafna Zur Stanford University

DOMESTIC Brother Anthony Sogang University

EDITORIAL ADVISORS Steven D. Capener Seoul Women's University
Poetry Horace J. Hodges Ewha Womans University
Charles Montgomery Dongguk University
58 “Pale Shadows of Old Love” by Kim Kwang-kyu Emanuel Pastreich Kyung Hee University


New Books
68 Recommended by Publishers
Alex Jisoo Baek

Steady Sellers EDITORS Kim Stoker

Shannon Doona Heit
73 Lee Mun Ku’s Gwanchon Essays
ART DIRECTOR Choi Woonglim

Overseas Angle DESIGNERS Jang Hyeju

Kim Mijin
74 Conveying Cultural Nuance in the Chinese Translation
of Gwanchon Essays PHOTOGRAPHER Lee Kwa-yong
76 Seoul: First Impressions of a Book-loving City
78 The Transcultural Bridge Between Korea
and Spanish Speaking Countries
80 The World of the Text
Date of Publication March 21, 2014

Meet the Publishers list_ Books from Korea is a quarterly magazine

published by the Literature Translation
82 Seoul Selection Institute of Korea.

84 Hollym Corporation Publishers All correspondence should be addressed to

the Literature Translation Institute of Korea
112 Gil-32, Yeongdong-daero (Samseong-dong)
Afterword Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 135-873, Korea
Telephone: 82-2-6919-7714
86 The Korea That I Discovered and Grew to Love Fax: 82-2-3448-4247
87 Contributors
88 Featured Authors Copyright © 2014 by Literature
Cover Art © Noh In-kyung
91 Index Mr. Tutti and 100 Water Drops, Translation Institute of Korea
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp., ISSN 2005-2790

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 3

These totals are based on sales records from eight major bookstores
and three online bookstores from October to December 2013,
provided by the Korean Publishers Association.
The books are introduced in no particular order.

Inside the Mind of It's OK The Bath Fairy

Suh Cheonseok

Children's Books
Letters for My Daughter Comic Maplestory 67 It’s OK
Han Sung-hee, Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. Song Do Soo; Illustrator: Seo Jung Eun Choi Sook-hee, Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd.
2013, 284p, ISBN 9788901158594 Seoul Cultural Publishers, Inc. 2005, 28p, ISBN 9788901052922
The author, a psychoanalyst with 33 years of 2013, 196p, ISBN 9788926395387 Through stories of animals, this picture book
field experience under her belt, has compiled 31 Since the first volume came out in 2004, the books encourages children to be brave and do whatever
psychological reflections that she wants to share with in this comic series have smashed bestseller records. they set out to accomplish. Well loved for its bright
her daughter. She asks her daughter to refrain from While reading about the adventures of various colors and strong visual impact, It’s OK has been on
trying to be good at everything and stresses that a distinctive characters defending Maple Island, bestseller lists for nine years.
sense of anxiety is merely proof of life. children learn about friendship, courage, and
consideration for others.
Don’t Be Angry and Talk Politely
Inside the Mind of Suh Cheonseok An Miyeun; Illustrator: Suh Huijeong
Suh Cheonseok, Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc. The Twenty Questions Detective Sangsangschool
2013, 435p, ISBN 9788934964421 and the Magician (Vol.2): Attacks 2008, 24p, ISBN 9788996023449
Suh Cheonseok is a psychiatrist who has gained on Cats on the Street This picture book teaches children to express
great popularity through the television show, “Suh themselves effectively by helping them to understand
Cheonseok's Mind Center.” The book endeavors Heo Kyobum; Illustrator: Ko Sang-mi
their own feelings and the feelings of others.
to go beyond empty messages on healing and BIR Publishing Co., Ltd.
consolation and present a true understanding of the 2013, 192p, ISBN 9788949195810
The Bath Fairy
human mind based on objective research and the This is the sequel to The Twenty Questions Detective Baek Heena, Bear Books
philosophical principle that “real consolation starts and the Magician, which won the inaugural Story
with knowing one's self and understanding others 2012, 44p, ISBN 9788993242706
King prize. The detective, who solves cases in 20
accurately.” questions or less, has a hidden past that is revealed. An old woman and a young girl meet and kindle a
The plot deals with the plight of abandoned cats and friendship against the backdrop of an old bathhouse.
dogs. Overcoming their age difference, they come to
An Incomplete Life (Vol. 9) understand each other’s loneliness and help each
Yoon Tae-ho, Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd. other in times of trouble in this gentle tale.
2013, 256p, ISBN 9788960866201 The Birth of Ilsu
The ninth installment of An Incomplete Life Yoo Eun-sil; Illustrator: Seo Hyun Mr. Confucius’ Bakery:
completes the publication project of the popular BIR Publishing Co., Ltd.
serialized webtoon, which holds the record for 2013, 124p, ISBN 9788949121543 Story in Liberal Arts for Beginners
earning top reviews from readers over the longest Kim Seon-hee; Illustrator: Kang Gyeongsu
This children’s book was selected for the IBBY
period of time. The comic artist juxtaposes the fierce Honour List. Ilsu’s parents had high expectations of Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc.
competition of the Korean board game baduk with him when he was born, but he grew up to be very 2012, 159p, ISBN 9788934956082
the cutthroat struggle of office workers for survival ordinary. He is already an adult when he finally This book presents the virtues outlined in Confucian
in a dog-eat-dog world. The series has fondly been comes to terms with his own identity in this book philosophy in a way children can easily understand
called “a textbook on life” and “a bible for office life.” packed with humor and satire. through dialogue between Confucius and a little boy
called Hwan-hee.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 7

Skeptical of the government campaign, “Read Many Books,” Kim is an author who knows how to uncover the intrinsic energy
Kang Chang-rae responded by writing The Spirit of Books. Kang and vitality of adolescence, as well as the hopes and dreams of the
questions if people can really come to love reading just because young.
books cultivate the mind, or if certain books should be prescribed Another up-and-coming writer is Choi Seokyung, born in
as a form of mental exercise. Kang, of course, refutes this idea, 1994. Choi, winner of the 3rd Munhakdongne Youth Literature
saying that reading must be enjoyable. Critical of injunctions Prize for her book, Know-it-all, is now a university student. She
to read the classics for their ancient truths and transcendent says she wrote the first draft of the book during her second year
values, he takes Plato and Confucius as his subjects and discloses of high school. The book tells the story of three young people,
unknown facts. It is an interesting work that contains many and grownups are described as people who do nothing more than
unexpected anecdeotes. Although Kang does not state exactly how pretend to “know it all.” The poet Ahn Do-hyeon described the
reading can be made enjoyable, at the very least, it is a joy to read novel in his review as, “providing relief by making a mockery
his book since it is filled with exciting stories about the classics. of the insincere kindness and boastful nature of the older
In The Revolt of Books That Were Never Classics, author generation.”
and classical scholar Jang Yoo-seung provides commentary on Thanks to prolific young writers who are actively including
individual books from the Joseon period. The author vividly the voices of young people in their work, the traditional approach
explains the value that these books had before they fell out of of trying to instill morals or teach through reading is slowly
circulation. By sheer luck (or lack thereof), they didn't fall into the loosing its grip on youth fiction.
hands of Korean craft paper collectors and were doomed to spend
centuries as inconsequential sheaves of paper. He intersperses by Shin Soojin
his accounts with examples of how the books were produced,
circulated, and consumed during that era. Of course, a familiarity
with the background of these books does not suddenly make
them valuable treasures. As Jang states, books that were previously
regarded as nothing may now get a slightly warmer reception,
but an effort should be made to welcome both contemporary
publications as well as discarded books of the past.

by Kim Bum-soo

Children's Books
New Trends for
Young Adult Fiction
For most people in Korea, the teenage years are an especially
problematic and angst-ridden time. With the dread of looming
university entrance examinations, power struggles between friends
that result in bullying, and the endless uncertainty about the
future, there is a whole host of worries weighing down on the
everyday lives of adolescents. As if singlehandedly attempting to
tackle all of the social pressures faced by Korean youth, many
young adult novels with teenage protagonists deal with loaded 3
topics such as school violence, running away from home, and
suicide; recently, however, young writers in their 20s have been
creating a new wave in young adult literature.
1. Our Egg Tart
The author at the forefront of this new trend is Kim Hyejung.
Kim Hyejung; Illustrator: Choi Hyewon
When she was still a middle school student, she had already Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd.
written The Runaway Diaries, and she has continued to write 2013, 192p, ISBN 9788901161174
refreshing young adult fiction, with five new books published in 2. Know-it-all
2013 alone. Among these Dorothy in My Pocket (Gimm-Young 1 Choi Seokyung
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.
Publishers, Inc.) and Time-Shift (Prunsoop Publishing Co., Ltd.) 2013, 180p, ISBN 9788954622578
are fantasy books for children. The remaining three are novels for 3. Dorothy in My Pocket
young people: Our Egg Tart (Woongjin ThinkBig Co., Ltd.) is Kim Hyejung; Illustrator: Bae Seul Gi
a tale about the adventures of girls in the fifth grade who figure Gimm-Young Publishers, Inc.
2013, 164p, ISBN 9788934965589
out their dreams for the future and put them into action; Ten-Ten
Movie Club is a portrayal of the efforts of a group of young school
dropouts trying to make a film; and Let’s Love is the story of a group
of unremarkable middle school boys who go to great lengths to
find girlfriends. All these titles have received enthusiastic reviews.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 9

Trade Report

Seeing China Through Korean Eyes

University, received wide attention from of Renmin University of China inked
Chinese publishers. Even though the book a deal to buy Cho’s book, and it is now
was targeted at a very specific group of being translated into Chinese. According
readers, Cho sold the rights to his book to the author’s request, Renmin ha s
to a publisher in China at a higher-than- commissioned a professional translator
expected fee. to produce a smooth translation of the
Dream of China
Cho Young Nam
Cho’s next book, Dream of China, Korean text, suitable for well-educated,
Minumsa, 2013, 426p examines China’s preparations to embark e l it e C h i n e s e r e a d e r s , i n o r d e r t o
ISBN 9788937488016 on its next stage, its role in the global appropriately localize the marketing of the
arena, and the driving force for its fast- title for the Chinese market.
growing economy following years of The success of Cho’s books illustrates
Chinese publishers have recently shown successful state-led economic growth. t he heightened attention on Korea n
great interest not only in Korean literature, Shor t ly a f ter Dream of China wa s nonfiction in overseas markets outside
educational comics, children’s books, and published in Korea, China’s Xinhua News of the self-help category. Hopefully even
self-help books, but also in Korean titles Agency requested an interview with Cho, more Korean titles by experts in foreign
that describe and analyze China through indicating the keen interest in his view on politics and culture will be published
the eyes of a foreigner. China. abroad, offering sharp insights into specific
Bac k i n 2012 , D an cing with the Several Chinese publishers expressed regions.
Dragon, written by Cho Young Nam, their interest in buying the rights to the
professor in t he Graduate School of book shortly after Xinhua’s interview by Michelle Nam
International Studies at Seoul National came out. In the end, the publication unit

Korean Nonfiction Reaches Beyond Asia

There has been a steady stream of reports mentor for Asian women in their 20s and and its rights have been sold to publishers
about translated Korean fiction being 30s, has already had many of her books i n f ive c ou nt r ie s i nc lud i n g C h i n a ,
published abroad. Unlike fiction, there published in foreign markets; her latest Taiwan, and Japan. Penguin’s decision to
have been few reports about how Korean title, Man & Woman Winning Together, publish this book is widely regarded as
nonfiction titles have made headway in was translated and published in China, the first major step toward promoting the
overseas markets, or about the prospect Taiwan, and Malaysia. In addition, upon excellence of Korea’s nonfiction content
of another Korean Wave being built upon publication of their works in Korea, a beyond regional and cultural boundaries.
such titles. But as a matter of fact, exports growing number of nonfiction writers Attention is now being pa id to how
of Korean nonfiction titles have achieved have sold their Thai and Chinese rights, Penguin will present Venerable Haemin’s
meaningful milestones in their own right. including: Kim Mi-Kyung’s Dream On, clear and heart-warming words of wisdom
The overseas translation rights for Kim a bestseller in the self-help category in to readers in the forthcoming English
Rando’s Youth It’s Painful, published in 2013; perspective designer Park Yong-Hu’s edition.
2010, were sold in eight languages. The Design Your Perspective; and Draw Your
Chinese version, published by Guangxi Own Big Picture by Jeon Og-Pyo, who by Sue Yang

Science & Technology Publishing House emerged as a best-selling author when over
Ltd., has sold more than 600,000 copies a million copies of his The Winning Habit
in two years. The rights for Kim’s sequels, were sold.
You Become an Adult Af ter Wavering Recently, more Korean nonfiction
One Thousand Times and Future: My authors have signed deals for simultaneous
Job, have also been sold to publishers publications in foreign markets. This is
in many different countries including a major breakthrough that illustrates the
China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and high quality of Korean nonfiction content,
Thailand. Kim is solidifying his position and will play a key role in expanding
as an internationally recognized author by the nonfiction market. Notably, Korean
offering public lectures in Korea, China, nonfiction titles are being exported not
Thailand, and other markets. only to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia,
1 2
Other Korean nonfiction titles have but also to English-language markets. For
also made inroads into overseas markets. instance, Venerable Haemin’s The Things
1. The Things We Can See Only After We Stop
The rights for Kang Se-hyoung’s Being We Can See Only After We Stop is slated to Venerable Haemin; Illustrator: Lee Young-cheol
Slow Is Not Being Late were sold to be published by Penguin U.S. Sam & Parkers. Co., Ltd.
2012, 292p, ISBN 9788965700609
Beijing Xiron Books Co., Ltd., a Chinese The Buddhist monk’s bestseller sold
more than 2.5 million copies in Korea, 2. Future: My Job
publisher. Nam Insook, a high-profile Kim Rando and Lee Jae Hyuk
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.
2013, 416p, ISBN 9788954621915
10 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014
Special Section

© My Ball, Yoo Jun-jae, Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.

Children’s Picture Books

the Best of the New
Korea has quickly become the next big thing in the picture book publishing
industry. With a spate of young authors and illustrators winning awards for their
innovation and style at international children’s book fairs, the future of Korean
illustrated books looks bright.

Korean picture books have been drawing steady attention at Then we profile three male artists who are each gaining
the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, one of the largest stages for recognition in their own right: Pak Yeoncheol, Kang Gyeongsu,
picture book artists. Ever since participating in the book fair as and Yoo Jun-jae.
the guest of honor in 2009, Korea has continued to bring home Park Yeoncheol, the author of Why Did Pinocchio Steal a
awards every year. In fact, picture book experts around the “MacGuffin”?, was selected as Illustrator of the Year at the 2007
world seem to regard Korea as an experimental stage on which Bologna Children’s Book Fair and participated in the book fair
to break through the recent stagnation of the global picture in 2013, holding a special exhibition sponsored by LTI Korea.
book market. Both Kang Gyeongsu, the author of The Stories Shouldn’t Be
Iwona Chmielewsk a’s Eyes, published by Cha ngbi True who received the Ragazzi Award in 2011, and Yoo Jun-
Publishers, Inc., was the winner of the Ragazzi Award for jae, the author of My Ball, held a special exhibition at the 2014
Fiction at the 2013 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It was the book fair with LTI Korea. These authors cross the border
author’s second Ragazzi since 2011, when she won the Ragazzi between fiction and nonfiction, using the modern methods of
for A House of the Mind: MAUM. In its 50-year history, no collage and textile art with sophistication.
other author has ever received the Ragazzi twice. Such an Finally, we examine the works of Noh In-kyung and Lee
accomplishment is a global acknowledgement of Korea’s Gihoon, winners at the 2013 BIB. Noh’s Mr. Tutti and 100
expertise in picture book publishing, since the entire process of Water Drops, in which everything except Mr. Tutti and his
publishing Chmielewska’s work, from planning to publication, bicycle is portrayed through pixels of various concentrations
was carried out in Korea. and shapes, was highly praised for its unique lyricism. Lee’s
Impressive news also came from the Biennial of Illustration The Tin Bear is a captivating work in which the reality of Seoul
Bratislava (BIB), another global picture book fair. Noh In- is recreated in a remarkable way, philosophically combining a
kyung’s Mr. Tutti and 100 Water Drops won the Golden Apple dystopic imagination and an ecological perspective.
Award and Lee Gihoon’s The Tin Bear won the Children’s Jury It is our hope that the dynamic works by these young
Award. These accomplishments by Korean picture book artists artists will highlight the present and the future of Korean
came right on the heels of Cho Eunyoung’s Run Toto! winning picture books.
the Grand Prix and Yoo Juyeon’s One Day winning the Golden
Apple Award at the 2011 BIB. by Kim Ji-eun

This special section will focus on young Korean artists who

have been actively engaged on the global stage. First, we feature
Cho Eunyoung and Yoo Juyeon, the two women who received
the Grand Prix and the Golden Apple Award respectively at the
2011 BIB. Their work is noted for multilayered meaning and
symbolism, expressed through traditional East Asian ink and
brush paintings.

12 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Special Section

Children’s Picture Books

Picture Books Are Art!

The new generation of young writers is proving themselves to be different from their
predecessors, no longer concentrating their efforts on spreading traditional culture
and history or writing picture books to teach children life lessons.

In the fall of 2011, it was announced that two picture books new generation of picture books is worthy of being called art,
from Korea had received the Grand Prix and the Golden and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that today’s picture
Apple Award at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB). book authors have played an important role in gaining that
In the spring of the same year, a picture book from Korea also recognition.
received the Ragazzi Nonfiction Award and an Honorable
Mention at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Koreans with an Cho Eunyoung
interest in picture books, such as picture book writers, editors,
The winner of the Grand Prix was Cho Eunyoung’s Run Toto!,
researchers, and readers, cheered at the news. The two young
a book depicting humans and horses as seen through the
female authors that won the awards probably didn’t fully
eyes of a girl who goes to the racetrack with her grandfather.
comprehend how much joy and confidence they had inspired. According to the judges, the book “shows different styles
Their awards confirmed that previous accomplishments at in a fresh and expressive way. It tells a story that catches the
Bologna weren't merely due to chance or luck. Rather, it attention of readers, enriching each page with a surprising
substantiated that Korean picture books had gained new clout layout indicating a great personality.” Run Toto! is indeed
through its new wave of writers. striking for its free forms, vivid colors, and bold layout. The
For the up-and-coming generations of artists and writers, faces and gestures of the diverse types of people who flock to
creating picture books is about expressing the way children the racetrack are portrayed with great originality. And how
see the world. It is also more important for these new writers free and dynamic the horses look, standing at the starting
to find their own methods of expression. In other words, line! They don’t even look like horses. One of them looks
picture books are a kind of personal expression, not a tool like a hyena, another like a bulldog, and another, like a huge
for education or a medium for conveying serious issues. This shield. Take a look at the racing scene, which is twice as large

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 13

Special Section

“If art is something that exposes the dark sides

of society with honesty through expressions of
individuality, inspiration and beauty, it must also
be something that boldly reveals the unfortunate
but true realities that children face.”

Run Toto!
Cho Eunyoung, Borim Press
2011, 40p, ISBN 9788943308179

as the other scenes. The running horses look like exploding and affection cannot thrive. The last scene of the book shows
firecrackers. in a glance the gloomy situation faced by children in Korea
But it’s not just the artistic illustrations that make this today. Explaining that she can no longer recognize Toto, the
book memorable. A running theme throughout the book is the horse she once named, because all of the horses now look the
desire for money. About two thirds of the book is full of the same, the girl stands looking forlorn with her toy horse in her
faces of people who exhibit this desire. The narrator, a young arms. The story is not one that inspires children's hope and
girl, has never seen a horse before. Feeling excited, she tries to dreams, nor is it one that brings adults pride. Some readers
imagine what a horse looks like, but that’s not what everyone have expressed perplexity at the book's message, saying, “The
else is doing. Everyone else “looks at something, writes book gives the reader a lot to think about,” or “It’s a difficult
something down, or thinks about something,” and then “looks read,” which is probably the same reason the book was rejected
at the electronic scoreboard.” Finally, the race begins and horse by every publisher the author visited. This underscores how
number nine, who the girl names Toto because it looks like significant it is that this book was published and went on to
her toy horse, wins. The girl is happy, but her grandfather, receive a prestigious international award. If art is something
who didn’t win any money, doesn’t look so happy. The that exposes the dark sides of society with honesty, through
girl’s excitement, curiosity, and feelings of fondness towards expressions of individuality, inspiration, and beauty, it must
the horse are not well received by her grandfather. All that also be something that boldly reveals the unfortunate but true
exists at the racetrack is a desire for money and the reality of realities that children face. In that respect, Run Toto! could well
disappointment. The girl visits the racetrack every week with be called art.
her grandfather, but she’s no longer excited or curious about
the horses anymore. “The horses all look the same” to her now. Yoo Juyeon
The story is a satire of Korean society, which is on the One Day, the recipient of the Golden Apple Award, can be
edge of imploding with its desire for money. Korean society considered art in another sense. The book depicts the journey
does not teach children other values. Children only learn of a little bird through the ink and brush strokes of traditional
that they must study hard in order to have a well-paying job. Asian painting. The judges praised the work by saying,
In a society like this, ingenuous imagination, basic curiosity, “Limited colors and stylized shapes flow in a poetic space that

14 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

recreates a simple narration with almost musical rhythm in changes that publishers would request.” It’s a good thing that
a quiet atmosphere. The illustrator conveys a whole world of the book was able to be published true to the author's original
emotion with minimal elements.” The bird sets out in search intent. Prompted by her artistic accomplishment, more and
of something new and different, but in the end, it does not more experimental picture books that have been noted for the
experience great adventure or enter a fantastic new world. author’s individuality have also been published in Korea.
Rather, the bird goes from the tree it was sitting on to the
middle of a city and sees the roofs of houses huddled together, by Kim Inae Sujung

tangled electric wires, cranes on construction sites, concrete

jungles, and elevated highways.
In most picture books, this type of environment would be
portrayed as hostile to little birds. This book is no different.
It seems to be warning children not to be in a rush to imitate
adults, with nature symbolizing childhood and the city
symbolizing adulthood. The book imparts the message that
one should stay in their safe, comfortable childhood, because
the world of adults is scary and dangerous.
However, although that’s what is said in words, the
illustrations say something else. They convey a message that
is different from what is seen on the surface. The illustrations,
“with a touch of modernity on traditional ink and wash
painting,” depict the city in an enchanting way, showing how
fascinating the world of adults looks in the eyes of children.
The roofs look like waves and the cranes seem to be dancing.
The concrete jungle brings to mind secret caves, and the
elevated highways become a rainbow leading up to heaven.
Typically dichotomous thinking, separating nature from
civilization and children from adults, crumbles in this book.
Such power lies in the illustrations that unfold, as the judges
explained, through “poetic space” and “musical rhythm.”
The author says that she didn’t go from publisher to
publisher with the manuscript in hand because she “knew
One Day
that they wouldn’t publish a picture book that wasn’t bright Yoo Juyeon, Borim Press
and cheerful and didn’t think she would be able to make the 2010, 64p, ISBN 9788943308162

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 15

Special Section

Children’s Picture Books

Putting a New Spin

On Stories for Kids
Author-illustators with unique perspectives are creating
provocative visual and narrative content.

During the mid-90s, illustrators and authors of children’s countries fill the book. Readers are greeted by Hassan from
books in Korea usually represented the aesthetics and traditions Kyrgyzstan, Paneer from India, Kizambu from Uganda, Elena
of Korean culture through their work. For instance, in from Romania, and many other children from around the
Sori’s Harvest Moon Day, the renowned children’s writer and world. But the facial expressions and attire of these children are
illustrator Lee Eok-bae portrays the charming story of Sori’s unusual. They seem to be around the same age as the Korean
family traveling to their hometown during the Harvest Moon boy who dreams of being a painter, but their faces convey
holiday. The book includes an illustration of people waiting sadness. The book proceeds to introduce the plight of these
in long lines to board buses heading to their hometowns. This children: being forced to join a guerilla army as a child soldier,
picture is a modern interpretation of traditional genre paintings, mining for coal in an underground shaft, dying from malaria
reminiscent of a Goguryeo era mural or a classic work of art due to the lack of funds to purchase medicine, and living in
depicting a traditional procession. However, recently published a sewer that reeks of human excrement. The boy is silent and
works represent varied, colorful themes and techniques with then he asks, “This can't be true, right?”
cartoon, textile, and animation artists permeating the children’s Through Kang’s work, young readers confront heart-
book industry and bringing more diverse styles with them. wrenching realities that shouldn’t be true. The writing is
Kang Gyeongsu and Yoo Jun-jae are two such innovators. simple and restrained while the thick, coarse pastel strokes on
craft paper illustrate the horrendous realities as seen through
the eyes of children.
Wit and Substance: Kang Gyeongsu
Kang, known for picture books that advocate human
Kang Gyeongsu earned an award in nonfiction at the 2011 rights, was originally a cartoonist. He drew cartoons for
Bologna Children’s Book Fair for his work The Stories Shouldn’t nearly a decade before joining the world of children’s
Be True. The International judging committee noted, “The literature. For this reason, his picture books are characterized
illustrations clearly depict a poignant childhood impacted by by his juxtaposition of simplicity and hyperbole, while still
historical tragedies, injustices, and violence…the work voices a maintaining a humorous undertone. Such talent is best shown
unique perspective that has not yet been represented in popular in his work The Big Fart, published in 2014. In The Big Fart,
media.” animal friends such as the elephant, the rhinoceros, the lion,
When readers open the book, an ordinary boy who loves to the anteater, the baboon, the squirrel, and the ant begin their
draw pictures appears. While dreaming of becoming an artist, morning on a vast African plain. On this particular day, the
this ordinary boy lives a peaceful and unremarkable life in elephant, suffering from indigestion, lets out a huge fart.
Korea. On the subsequent pages, children from various distant Suddenly all of the animals are thrown into the air. In the

16 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

order of their respective proportions, the rhinoceros, the lion,
the anteater, the baboon, and the squirrel are able to stop
themselves from being blown away. However, the tiny ant
cannot stop itself. It is thrown far across the sky into the trunk
of the elephant that created the entire problem. The elephant
cannot stand the tickling in his trunk and sneezes, which
in turn causes the rhinoceros to be thrown up into
the air. There is no end to the domino effect and
resulting commotion caused by the elephant’s big
fart on this African grassland.
Kang grabs his readers’ attention by combining 2
a short and simple writing style with a storyline that
gradually reaches its climax. The facial expressions of
the animals as they are thrown into the air, along with
the relieved expressions of the animals that are barely able
to come to a halt, create a hilarious dynamic. Kang captures
the comical expression of each animal with exceptional skill. 1. The Stories Shouldn't Be True
He worked with pencil sketches to complete the background, Kang Gyeongsu, Sigong Junior
but used paper collages to depict the animals. This method 2011, 36p, ISBN 9788952760661
2. The Big Fart
highlights the texture of each animal against a flat backdrop.
1 Kang Gyeongsu, Sigong Junior
Due to the restrained text, combined with illustrations 2014, 38p, ISBN 9788952780058
that consist of simple shapes and lines, Kang’s stories endure
even after the reader has put down the book. His books are
not just stories of far away countries such as Kyrgyzstan
and Uganda, or of an elephant passing gas on the savannah.
Kang’s book ultimately conveys that just like the chaos theory,
father. Similar to many other fathers of the time, Yoo’s father
where a tiny action such as a butterfly fluttering its wings can
was a reticent and earnest man, a hard-working breadwinner
cause a hurricane, there is nothing too small, unrelated, or
who had little time for fun. The first pages of the book depict
inconsequential in the world.
“My father met my mother through a matchmaker. They
A Heartwarming Protagonist: Yoo Jun-jae
were married after going on three dates at Dongdaemun
Yoo Jun-jae, who studied textile arts, received much acclaim for Baseball Stadium.” The story goes on to explain, “My father
My Ball, published in 2011. He stumbled into illustration when was always busy. Even when I woke up early in the morning, it
he was offered the chance to design the cover of a magazine was difficult to see him.”
while working as a fashion designer. In 2003, he illustrated the Readers are able to sense Yoo’s childhood understanding of
text for My Brother Who Went to Mars, but it would be awhile his father through his portrayal of a man without a mouth or
before he would write and illustrate his own picture books. Yoo a man with a long commute from work. The only time Yoo’s
submitted illustrations of his childhood memories of his father father becomes chatty is when he watches baseball games on
to Pocket Book, a magazine that sporadically publishes the television. Thus, the son comes to love baseball just like his
collected drawings and portfolios of illustrators. This was a father. The son's desire to be like his father dominates most of
turning point for Yoo. An editor noticed his work and urged his childhood.
him to create a picture book based on the illustrations. However, eventually we all grow up. Our fathers no longer
After considerable deliberation, Yoo agreed. look as great as they once did to our childhood eyes and we no
My Ball is an autobiographical story. longer watch baseball with our fathers. Just as our fathers have
An adult narrator looks back on his life their own lives, so do we have our own paths to choose.
and, through the medium of baseball, By incorporating silk screen a nd lit hograph-ba sed
remembers the times he spent with his illustrations, Yoo depicts his childhood memories through

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 17

Special Section

1. Inside Mom’s Dreams

Yoo Jun-jae
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.
2013, 40p, ISBN 9788954620796

1 2. My Ball
Yoo Jun-jae
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.
2011, 52p, ISBN 9788954615969

symbols and imaginatives scenes. On its own, silkscreen gives jump into the world of her mother’s dreams. The child eats
off a stiff appearance, so Yoo used various printing plates as his sandwiches the mother makes, rides airplanes and chases down
base and finished off by printing the silkscreen over them. By clouds, tries on lipstick, saves her mother from being eaten by
keeping the final image in mind, and printing the image over a lion, and visits her father who has traveled all the way to the
and over again, Yoo’s illustrations of his memories of his father stars in order to draw a heart in the sky. The daughter's fierce
appear dim and faded. love for her family can be detected when, in order to protect
The writer who wrote about his love for his father is now a them from falling snowflakes, the girl holds up an umbrella
father himself. Yoo shows the love he has for his own daughter large enough to cover the family home. Through silkscreen
in Inside Mom's Dreams, published in 2013. A mother scolds and collages, Yoo creates a variegated space bursting with color
her sleepless child who must attend kindergarten the next day, and possibilities. He is faithful in depicting the unique ability
“You are in trouble if you don’t fall asleep by the time I count of every child – the ability to blur the boundaries of reality and
to ten.” “Don’t open your eyes.” “What kind of child stays up fantasy. Yoo is no doubt an amazing illustrator, but he must
this late to play?” also be an amazing father to be able to understand a child’s
Yet, the daughter cannot fall asleep. Wanting to keep heart in such a vivid way.
playing in whatever way she can, the young child wants to
explore her mother’s dreams. Instantly, the child is able to by Han Mihwa

18 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Special Section

Children’s Picture Books

Two Vanguards
of Illustration

At the 2013 Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB), the spotlight was on two
young Korean artists: Noh In-kyung and Lee Gihoon. Noh and Lee displayed
the originality and artistic value of Korean picture books at the event, one of
the biggest picture book festivals in the world.

Noh In-kyung
For her debut, Noh In-kyung received the Award of Excellence she should create a character who “walks on words.” That’s
at the 2000 International Digital Art Festival. After studying how “Soso the book cleaner” came to be.
visual design at Hongik University in Seoul, she went on to Soso Cancellina is remarkable for its various images using
study at Accademia di Belle Arti Milano in Italy. Among typography, and the idea of using the Korean script Hangul,
her works, Soso Cancellina was the first to draw attention a phonogram, by breaking it up like pixels. Above all, the
internationally. For this book, Noh was selected as Illustrator character’s desire to remove parts she doesn’t like is quite
of the Year at the 2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. lovable.
In Soso Cancellina, Soso, who cleans up words in books, In Mr. Tutti and 100 Water Drops, which received the BIB
receives a phone call from “Anne of Green Gables.” Anne tells Golden Apple Award, Noh presents an even more developed
her that she can’t stand the part in the book where her hair gets pixel art technique. All the illustrations in the book, other than
dyed a strange color and requests that it be taken out. Soso uses the bicycle, the elephant, and the water drops, are composed
her vacuum cleaner to remove the dyed hair. As she does, she of pixels. The trees and the clouds are made up of countless
encounters many words, each of which tries to convince her pixels. Children growing up in the digital age are very familiar
why it shouldn't be removed, so Soso collects the words and with pixels. Mr. Tutti, made up of elegant, witty brushstrokes,
brings them to her room. appears against a backdrop of these countless pixels. When a
Through her work, Noh shows her affection for small drought falls and there’s no more water for the children, Mr.
segmented units: one line, one word, one letter. The author Tutti travels far and wide to find water. He returns riding his
says she is a relatively slow reader, which adults pointed out to bicycle, carrying 100 water drops. But the return trip is rough
her when she was young. But when she reads, she enjoys the and Mr. Tutti must struggle not to spill a single drop of water.
feeling of walking along a line of words, so she thought that Noh said that as she created Mr. Tutti, she thought of her

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 19

Special Section

1. Mr. Tutti and 100 Water Drops

Noh In-kyung
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.
2012, 56p, ISBN 9788954618618
2. Soso Cancellina
Noh In-kyung
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. 1
2010, 34p, ISBN 9788954613521

father working hard each day for his family, remembering The Tin Bear is a story about humans and nature. Being
his long silence after returning home from work, and tried greedy, humans turn the earth into ruins and leave for the
to imagine what his day was like, something he never talked Golden Planet. Before leaving, animals place acorns in the
about. huge tin bear's body. Left behind on the lifeless earth, the tin
While reading this book, children often count to see if bear realizes that the last seeds of life lie within himself. To
there really are 100 water drops, and to see how many pixels bring the seeds to life, he pours water into his tin body. A noble
there are in the trees and fruits. It’s also interesting to see how beauty is found in this act as he tries to cultivate life, even as
the pixels in each image have different shapes. The clear blue his own body becomes corroded. A boy who’s also been left
of the water drops, amid the black and white of all the other on earth, now a concrete desert, puts his trust in the tin bear
pixels, draws attention to the father’s efforts to safeguard the and eagerly awaits the restoration of life. Various aspects of a
“precious water drops for the family,” which is both precarious megalopolis are superbly recreated in this book. The city that
and moving. appears in this book could be Seoul, New York, London, or
Lee Gihoon
Lee Gihoon, who received the 2013 BIB Children’s Jury
Award, is noted for his philosophical works with an apocalyptic
feel. The meticulous details and massive scale, making full
use of the physical space in the book, catch children’s eyes
immediately. That this book would win the highest praise from
the fussy children’s jury of Bratislava was not anticipated by the
adult judges. What is it about his picture books that appeal so
strongly to children?
Lee was also selected Illustrator of the Year at the 2010
Bologna Children’s Book Fair. With an affinity for picture
books without words, he has continued to push the boundaries
of his field. His major works, The Tin Bear and Big Fish, are
both picture books without text. Lee felt early on that the
tragedies he seeks to communicate are best conveyed through
pictures without words, and he clearly demonstrates the power
of images accompanied by silence.

20 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Big Fish, Lee’s latest work, is intriguing in a different way. If
The Tin Bear is a book about the future of civilization, Big Fish
is an allegory about humanity's past. Based on flood narratives
from around the world, this book solemnly depicts the tragic
end of “humans that coveted water.” Big Fish, the main
character of the book, is a fish that produces water. Whenever
there’s a drought, humans scramble to get their hands on Big
Fish. In the end, Big Fish is captured by force. The curse of
Big Fish is to spurt out water endlessly. Through pictures, Lee
deftly conveys without a single sentence, how this gentle beast
comes to express its anger against humans.
Works by these two authors show why Korean picture
books are leading the field's experimental efforts, both
technically and philosophically. Keeping an eye on their work
will be the most meaningful way to estimate the future of
picture books around the world.

by Kim Ji-eun
1. The Tin Bear
Lee Gihoon, Ligem
2012, 50p, ISBN 9788992826846
2. Big Fish
Lee Gihoon, BIR Publishing Co., Ltd.
2014, 50p, ISBN 9788949101736

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 21


Keeping It Real
Children's Book Author Kwon Yoon-duck
Kwon Yoon-duck has made her mark on the picture book world with
her bold foray into realistic subject matter once thought too serious
for children. With original illustrations inspired by traditional East
Asian painting techniques, Kwon’s thoughtful artwork complements
her playful expression of how a child sees the world.

Kim Youngwook: It’s been almost 20 years since Man-hee’s House

was published in 1995. You were an activist for community art from
the late 1980s to early 90s. How has that experience informed your
work with children’s books? 1

Kwon Yoon-duck: After graduate school, I chose to focus on

community art rather than fine art painting or the applied arts. That
decision was based on my belief that there should be no boundaries 2

between art and everyday life. I wasn’t very happy at the time about 3
how the industry moves art, how pictures are hung primly in art
galleries. I wanted for anybody to be able to enjoy art in their daily
lives, so I started drawing with the general public in mind. During 4
that time I also grew to believe that children’s books should not
ignore the very real problems that exist in society. Children’s book
authors should be able to pierce through the web of society cast by 6
the state, power, and institutions—and create something new. I
remain confident that children’s books have the power to change 7

society. Flower Grandma stands for that.

Kim: Flower Grandma also became the subject of a documentary

that was shot over the course of the five years you were working on
the book from 2007 to 2012. How did that come about?

Kwon: At the time, I was writing to Japanese publishers about
publishing Flower Grandma in Japan when a friend of mine, a
documentary writer from Jeju Island, introduced me to her nephew,
director Kwon Hyo. When I was first approached with the project, I
1. Man-hee's House 5. Man-hee’s Letter Bugs
had my doubts, but it seemed like a good idea to have a record of the
Kwon Yoon-duck Kwon Yoon-duck
process, so I agreed. I didn’t think back then that it would become a Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd. Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd.
90-minute feature film. 1995, 34 p, ISBN 9788986621105 2011, 108p, ISBN 9788955821659
2. Flower Grandma 6. Mommy, I Like These Clothes
Kwon Yoon-duck Kwon Yoon-duck
Kim: Could you tell me how you came to make the book about Sakyejul Publishing Ltd. Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd.
Sim Dal-Yeon? 2010, 35p, ISBN 9788958284826 2010, 56p, ISBN 9788955820997
3. Pikaia 7. Tools at Work
Kwon Yoon-duck Kwon Yoon-duck
Kwon: I was involved in a collaborative project between Korean, Changbi Publishers, Inc. Gilbut Children Publishing Co., Ltd.
Chinese, and Japanese authors called Picture Books for Peace, and 2013, 148p, ISBN 9788936454449 2008, 40p, ISBN 9788955820836
I wanted to do a story about the women who were forced into 4. My Cat Copies Me 8. There Dangles a Spider
sexual slavery during World War II, so I read the transcripts of oral Kwon Yoon-duck Kwon Yoon-duck
Changbi Publishers, Inc. Changbi Publishers, Inc.
testimonies. Sim Dal-Yeon’s testimony was the one that painted the 2005, 30p, ISBN 9788936454104 2003, 38p, ISBN 9788936454036

22 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014


"During that time I also grew

to believe that children’s books
should not ignore the very real
problems that exist in society."

Kim Youngwook and children's book author Kwon Yoon-duck

most specific picture for me. Afterwards, I met the transcriber, can hope for our forgiveness.
and later Sim Dal-Yeon herself. I found that even though Sim was
not formally educated, she was a born storyteller, but Sim says Kim: Let me ask you something a bit different. Working on
that when she first came forward as a "comfort woman," she was children’s books must remind you of forgotten memories from
confused and could not express herself properly. She had become your own childhood. What sort of memories have resurfaced for
withdrawn from blaming herself for the tragedy and avoided you?
contact with other people. While she has not gotten the apology
or restitution she deserves, she has regained her positive energy Kwon: Memories of the past make up who I am now whether
by working in pressed flower crafts, as suggested by a nonprofit I like it or not, consciously or unconsciously. I draw upon that
organization, which was also featured in the book. past in one way or another when I’m working on a children’s
book. For me, it’s things like flowers, lace, feathers, marbles,
Kim: I understand that many mock-up books of Flower bits of glass, jewels. These are the things I admired as a child,
Grandma were made for Japanese publishers. There must have and I liked to draw the beautiful princess dresses that girls wore
been some negotiation there. Was there a scene or detail you felt in comic books when I was growing up. I love Angela Barrett’s
you absolutely could not compromise? work because of her attention to the smallest detail in clothing or
interior decorations.
Kwon: I think that children have the right to know what’s
going on in the world where they live. That is the only way they Kim: Your first work, Man-hee’s House, shows the interior of a
can be prepared to face the inequality of society. By learning hanok, a traditional Korean house, laid out in a single horizontal
about the wrongs of history, they will learn how to cope with line when you open the book. The old furniture and household
the injustices of the world and still hold onto their dreams. With objects are drawn similarly to how they appear in traditional
Flower Grandma, the scene I defended to the end was the floor Korean folk paintings, with great attention to detail. I felt this
plan of the “comfort station,” where the sex slaves were raped by perspective was quite unusual. Could you elaborate on that?
Japanese soldiers. Ultimately, my purpose was not just to expose
the issue of sexual slavery, but also to emphasize the fact that this Kwon: I always wanted to show what a hanok looks like in a
kind of tragedy can repeat itself at any time, in any part of the children’s book. But it didn’t seem like there was much point in
world. showing it as is. I gave it a great deal of thought and decided to
show how tradition lives on in our culture today. I was living with
Kim: In the book, the victims’ faces are drawn, but the my in-laws at the time and they had that kind of house, with a
Japanese soldiers’ faces are blurred. What was your intention with mixture of old and contemporary objects. In the book I wanted
this? to give the impression that the objects were telling their own
stories and I wanted to show how time affects the relationship of
Kwon: I think that the soldiers were also victims, in a way, to the family by changing the position of objects in subtle ways. So
the ideology or system of military totalitarianism. I do not think I made full use of the very subjective, multiple point perspective.
they enlisted and committed evil deeds because they personally Our eyes are not like a camera; they are attached to our faces. The
wanted to. So that’s the reason that I drew the uniforms, but left typical perspective is not the right way to express something as
the faces as a tan-colored blur. I wanted to call attention to how we see it with our eyes. When we’re looking at something we turn
anonymity acts as a shield for the mindless spread of evil. This and twist and sometimes even hop up and down to get a better
kind of thing should never happen again, but there will be people look. I thought that composing the frame so that the objects were
who are capable of such atrocities when they are clad in uniform, scattered here and there from a multiple point perspective, as if
when they are at war. We need to know the true faces of those the onlookers were turning their head this way and that, would
who commit these crimes. It is only then that those who repent give the reader a more playful sense of space.
24 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014
Kim: My Cat Copies Me has already been published in the of their skin. Pikaia takes a close-up look at cockroaches’ feelers
U.S., France, and Spain. The little girl and the cat’s identical and wrinkles and asks if humans have the right to exterminate
poses are presented side by side of an invisible vertical line, and them. At the same time, the question is just how honorable we
the color scheme feels very restful. You’ve studied gong bi hua, humans are. Just as nations, systems, and social norms made by
Chinese landscape painting, and even Buddhist painting; have man all work to fit us into the type of human being that adapts
any of these techniques found their way into this book? successfully to a capitalist regime, we are wielding the same kind
of violence upon nature, as the scene of the fallen trees shows. I
Kwon: The little girl in this book stays home by herself all day wanted to convey the familiar in an unfamiliar way, to say that
and imitates her cat, but tells everybody else that the cat copies ironically, Pikaia survived so long because it was not a superior
her. When I was illustrating this book, I did not use shading, life form.
which makes things appear as they do in reality. Instead, I drew
upon the coloring methods of Buddhist painting, using delicate Kim: To wrap up, what kind of books do you want to write
motifs and bright colors. in the future?

Kim: Working on the Picture Books for Peace project, you Kwon: I am interested in structural injustice and the power
must have had many encounters with Chinese and Japanese relationship between countries, and I believe that children’s books
authors. How do you think Korean children’s books are different should contribute to building new values by calling attention to
from Chinese and Japanese children’s books, from an artist’s that injustice and absurdity. With this in mind, I am working on
point of view? a book that deals with the historical Jeju 4.3 massacre. I would
also like to do a book on the Vietnam War. I went on a month-
Kwon: It’s a matter of taste, but I feel like Chinese painting long research trip to Vietnam, but I have set it aside until I am
emphasizes elaborate technique and a very tight structure and able to fully process the material. It is only then that I think I will
Japanese painting feels very intricate. Korean painting, on the have fully told the story of Flower Grandma.
other hand, is more relaxed. Or to put it another way, it feels
comparatively free from rules and is relaxed in a way that suggests by Kim Youngwook
intentionally avoiding perfection.

Kim: In There Dangles a Spider, it feels like different colored

spaces of many sizes are being pulled in different directions. I
felt there was an abstract conciseness to the way the screen was
divided, so to speak. What was your main point of focus there?

Kwon: Those are lyrics from the “Tail Song” from Jeju Island;
the song lyrics are full of wordplay, so I wanted the pictures to
reflect the abstractness of the poetry. And the lyrics gave me many
colors to work with: the black crow, the white rabbit, the blue sky,
and so on. I was most concerned with how to express those things
abstractly, while ensuring that the colored spaces would convey a
sense of rhythm that complemented the lyrics.

Kim: Man-hee’s Letter Bugs also deals with wordplay and

playfulness. Where did these wonderful ideas come from?

Kwon: I got most of my ideas when my son, Man-hee, was

young. Once, on the first day of sunshine after lots of rain, he
said that he couldn’t bear the grating sound an umbrella makes
when it drags on concrete. His reaction to such a specific sound
gave me an idea, so we made up a game using bright vowels and
dark vowels, onomatopoeia, and mimetic words.
Overseas publications
by Kwon Yoon-duck
Kim: Honestly, Pikaia was shocking. It made me wonder if
you wanted this book to tell the stories you held back in Flower
Grandma. It felt like you were addressing the human condition.

Kwon: In this book, the reader, who may very well be an Kwon Yoon-duck (b.1960) is a leading first generation children’s
writer and illustrator who pursues her own worldview. She studied landscape
adult, is asked to look at something familiar in an unfamiliar
way. I wanted to create an unsettling feeling by asking whether painting and fine brush painting in Beijing during the late 1990s, and
it is normal and right to spray cockroaches, or step on them to investigated Buddhist and colored paintings during the late-2000s. Kwon
kill them. Cockroaches may not have bones in their bodies, but wrote and illustrated Man-hee’s House, There Dangles a Spider, My Cat Copies
they have evolved so that their bones are actually on the outside Me, Flower Grandma, and Pikaia.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 25


Flower Grandma
by Kwon Yoon-duck

26 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Flower Grandma
Kwon Yoon-duck
Sakyejul Publishing Ltd.
2010, 35p, ISBN 9788958284826

A few days later, a line of soldiers formed outside the door.

One of them came inside...and then he left. Then another came in, and left again.
She couldn't count how many of them came and went in one day.
What happened inside that little room?

Thirteen-year-old Flower Grandma's undergarments were stained with blood.

How did Flower Grandma survive through those days?

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 27


The Man Who Loved Moebius

Novelist Choi Jae-hoon
Truth and falsity, fiction and reality, stories inside stories, and stories
outside stories all meet and are reconstructed in Choi Jae-hoon’s work. It 4
is both “stranger than fiction” and a smorgasbord of “too strange to be
false”-reality, storytelling, and imagination that goes beyond even the
wildest fiction.
Suh Heewon, “To sleep is to die, and to dream”

∞ Prologue
All types of love exist in the world. There are even people that are in
love with shoes, stockings, corpses, and baseball bats. Love operates
in mysterious ways, so it’s not surprising to meet a man in love with
Moebius. Or more accurately, a man in love with the Moebius strip.
Enthralled by the curious ribbon that is both many and one, one and
many (try cutting the strip laterally), Choi Jae-hoon’s writing resembles
the object of his love. That is to say, it is twisted. 1

Suh Heewon: You didn’t become a novelist right away. You majored
in business administration, but went on to study creative writing after
graduation, rather than work at a company. Then afterwards, you worked
at your alma mater on the administrative staff. Fast forward a few years,
you quit your job to devote more time to writing and then got your first
book published a year later. How did you come back to literature from the
brink of worldly success?

Choi Jae-hoon: I wasn’t very interested in fulfilling my own desires.

I thought, isn’t it enough to let life take its natural course? I could’ve just
been someone who liked reading, but my military service changed me. 2
I became more realistic about what I wanted to do, so to speak. Living a
highly controlled and disciplined lifestyle made me look back at my life
and desires. When I went back to school, I started reading more than
ever, mostly classics. I would make lists of books to read and kept my own 1. Baron Quirval’s Castle
Choi Jae-hoon
notes on them. Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd.
2010, 304p, ISBN 9788932020525

Suh: There’s a saying in Korea, “One becomes a man when he goes 2. From the Sleep of Babes
Choi Jae-hoon
to the army.” Going to the army is thought of as the first step to entering Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd.
the real world. You’ve said that you first experienced society in the army 2013, 372p, ISBN 9788932024578

and spent the time there reflecting on yourself. This must be the kind of 3. Seven Cat Eyes
Choi Jae-hoon
perspective that differentiates an artist. As someone who got his start in Jaeum & Moeum Publishing Co.
art through voracious reading, what books made an impression on you in 2011, 378p, ISBN 9788957075418
your youth? 4. Sept yeux de chats
Choi Jae-hoon
Editions Philippe Picquier
Choi: Like most people, I was strictly a reader at first. I thought 2014, 326p, ISBN 9782809709810

28 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014


"When I quit my job, I

looked at my bank account
and decided I could do
nothing but write and still live
off my savings for two years.
So for one year, I just wrote."

writer Choi Jae-hoon and critic Suh Heewon

that writing was for people with a special gift. The book that character and narrative thread. I line up everything in my head
first made me think that I too could write was J.D. Salinger’s and then put it all together again in a completely different way.
Catcher in the Rye. I think there’s a kind of trigger in that book I only write after I’ve exhausted those possibilities.
that brings something out in the reader. I later learned that the
book is a favorite among assassins. I thought that was a striking Suh: You say it takes genius to immediately hash out
coincidence. You could say that that book assassinated my other a story from an idea and that you’re hopelessly lazy and
self, the me that was living peacefully, and the person I am now talentless. But is there only one kind of genius? If there is such
survived to write books. a thing as genius by inspiration, then there must be such a
thing as genius by planning. Inspiration appears and vanishes
Suh: How did you begin your life as a writer? like a muse, but planning must look like a person who is dead
set on working through everything without fail. What kind of
Choi: I began learning about fiction and started writing in blueprint do you use in your planning, then?
earnest when I entered the creative writing department. But I had
very different ideas about writing from what we were taught. I Choi: If I had to name a blueprint I would have to say, I
was an oddball. Remember, that was the era of Shin Kyung-sook, saw the etchings of Maurits Cornelis Escher when I was very
Jo Kyung-ran, Ha Seong-nan. It was all about the descriptive young. Then in university, I learned his name and was able to
novel, and that was how we were told to write. I was more properly view his works. What I saw was the static space that
interested in the fiction of writers like Baek Min-seok. When I was constantly in movement, the way life moves endlessly only
quit my job, I looked at my bank account and decided I could to come full circle, both perpetual motion and motion that
do nothing but write and still live off my savings for two years. converges to nothingness. I’ve read that Escher worked in a
So for one year, I just wrote. The next year, I began writing to mathematical way to achieve this kind of space. So do I. The
submit. “Baron Quirval’s Castle,” the first story I ever published, critic Nam Jin-woo once wrote about me, “He paradoxically
was the first one I wrote after quitting my job. That was when I creates chaos through the play of pushing the intellect.” That’s
wrote stories like “The Hidden Cases of Sherlock Holmes,” “Her the kind of world I want to depict. Chaos in differential
Knot,” and “Maria, You Know What, Maria.” calculus, chaos in equilibrium, the infinite flickering of nature.
All of my characters stand in an Escherian space, so to speak.
Suh: Since becoming an author, you’ve published a collection
of short stories and two novels. The reception you’ve received Suh: Escherian space. The progress of a novel depends on
from readers and critics has afforded you such prolificacy. You the narrative. Can there be a narrative of chaos, a labyrinth
don’t describe the psychological or situational in your writing, without an exit? One of the greatest mazes known to man, the
but rely on the narrative at all costs, and this narrative has a labyrinth of Daedalus, was designed to imprison the half-man,
geometrical structure, or as you’ve call it, “odd.” How do you half-bull Minotaur. Ariadne ties a string to her lover, Theseus,
plan your novels and work out your thought process? however, and helps him escape safely. Ariadne’s thread is
an excellent metaphor for narrative. Without narrative, the
Choi: I don’t have any special method, nothing very sentences of a novel turn into a labyrinth. The reader is lost
different. When I have an idea I don’t write it up immediately. I and forgets what they have been reading. In that sense, there
keep it in mind and turn it around in my head as much as I can. can be fiction that is like a maze, but not fiction that is a maze
I twist the narrative in different ways, do research, and focus in itself. What is it that you want to achieve with fiction?
my thoughts. Sometimes I’ll cut everything up according to

30 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Choi: I don’t think about conveying meaning through fiction. to offer it as a kind of salvation, so I had the main character get
When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. I gave up that dream hit by a car and crucified, formulaic as that is. My goal was to
when I realized that dreams and talent aren’t the same thing. create a kind of portrait of the modern person. People are beings
What I’m doing is painting a kind of picture out of the narrative that deviate from the balance of nature. Man made God to
and the sentences. I want to show the reader a picture of the chaos compensate for the freedom and loneliness that comes with that
that’s the result of my thoughts. deviation. Religion is a gym for the soul, comfort for humans who
don’t have anything else to turn to. From the Sleep of Babes is the
Suh: A Moebius band-like narrative, multi-layered plot, culmination of my thoughts on these ideas written in narrative
multiple personalities, and closed circuit-like mazes are all form. Did you enjoy reading it?
elements that characterize your fiction and also ref lect your
experience as a Korean writer. Korea is the soil that nourished the ∞ Epilogue
boy that was impressed by Escher and turned him into the writer
Did I enjoy it? Before answering, I should elaborate on “Death
Choi Jae-hoon. What are your thoughts about being labeled a
and the Compass” by Borges. In the story, Detective Erik Lönnrot
Korean writer who writes from a Korean perspective?
chases Red Scharlach, a criminal who has sworn to kill him. The
brilliant Lönnrot interprets signs left by the killer, following crime
Choi: Korea moved towards a modern, democratic, capitalistic
scenes to get closer to the man committing the murders. Lönnrot
society in a very compressed time frame. The subsequent
figures out that the three murders were committed in times and
societal changes have been dramatic and cutthroat competition
places that correspond to a perfect triangle, and rushes to the
has become the norm. If things like our strength in IT or the
scene of the last crime. There he meets a waiting Scharlach and
Korean Wave are the positive manifestations of that energy, then
realizes that he has fallen into a trap. Sensing that the end is near,
the negative manifestations of that energy are how barren our
Lönnrot asks Scharlach to build him a different kind of labyrinth,
inner emotional lives are, our mindless pursuit of trends, our
should he ever hunt him again. The last sentence of the story is
humanitarian crisis. We didn’t have the time to acclimate to such
worth quoting:
change, to assign meaning to it. I think we should keep an eye
"The next time I kill you," said Scharlach "I promise you the
on how this will play out in the future. Korea could be the poster
labyrinth made of the single straight line which is invisible and
child for a future society where speed is everything.
Choi Jae-hoon is a Scharlach of our times. As the criminal
Suh: You count Seven Cat Eyes as your favorite work. It’s a
genius promised, his labyrinth is made with a straight line: an
novel composed of four connected stories, the writing is equally
invisible, everlasting labyrinth. The man’s love affair with the
eclectic. Can you tell me about it?
Moebius strip, that simplest yet most philosophical of complex
mazes, appears to be here to stay. The pain of his struggles,
Choi: When I wrote Seven Cat Eyes, my intent was to express
however, is no doubt a blessing for his readers.
everything that I had in my writing. To put my whole self into
the blender, turn it on, and see what happens. The result is 100 by Suh Heewon
percent Choi Jae-hoon juice, so to speak. (Laughs) People don’t
believe it when I say so, but I didn’t have a particular message
when writing this novel. I was more concerned with the feeling.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the title as well. I think, or
rather, what I feel, is that the number three means balance.
Three cats, six eyes. What’s the other eye, then? That eye is the
eye of balance, an outside perspective, or the perspective of the
unconscious. I looked at myself and my thoughts through that
perspective. Now I’d like to write about something that gets
under my skin from the outside, not something that comes out of

Suh: I was intrigued by the last scene of your latest work,

From the Sleep of Babes. The narrative is divided into dreams
and reality; the character driving both narratives embarks on a
journey to solve a mystery, but the end waiting for him is his own
sudden death rather than a solution. Like Detective Erik Lönnrot
in the Borges story “Death and the Compass,” the protagonist
of From the Sleep of Babes rushes to the scene to solve a murder
mystery only to become the victim of a premeditated crime. What Choi Jae-hoon (b.1973) made his literary debut when he won the new
was it that you wanted to say with this ending? writer’s award from Literature and Society in 2007. His works include Baron
Quirval’s Castle, Seven Cat Eyes, and From the Sleep of Babes.
Choi: For me, the death itself was not important. I wanted

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 31


“Death and the Maiden” while he was doing it. They really did
that in South America, you know. The victims could never bear
Seven Cat Eyes that music afterwards, all their lives. Pavlovian reaction.”
The man fixes his eyes on the dark mildew stains in the
corner where two of the walls and the ceiling met.
by Choi Jae-hoon “The regime was finally overthrown and she gets married to
another activist, a lawyer. Except she’s not over what happened
Recipe for Revenge to her. She’s afraid to go anywhere and lives like a recluse in this
lonely house by the sea. I guess it would be surprising if she was
okay after all that. Anyway. There’s this terrible storm one day,
Schubert: String Quartet No.14 in D Minor, D.810, “Death and her husband gets a ride home from this doctor because his
and the Maiden.” The Munch painting of the same name graces car broke down. The husband invites him in for a drink and she’s
the cover of the CD. The naked maiden and the skeleton man in the bedroom, listening to them talking. You see where this is
kissing as they embrace each other. The maiden’s flesh glows going? Yes, she’s positive this doctor is the same guy who tortured
pink. Red tresses cascade down the supple curves of her back and her. She never saw his face, but she recognizes his voice, the way
shoulders. Her demurely closed eyes seem to be fluttering. The he talks, the sound of his laugh. What really cinches it is a tape
wan skeleton man looks pitifully frail next to the buxom maiden. of “Death and the Maiden” in his car. Time for revenge. I never
His bony claws can barely contain her sturdy waist. He tries to miss a movie about revenge if I can help it.”
retreat, pushing his hips awkwardly backward. The maiden has The speakers play on, the melody of the two violins zipping
thrown her sleek arms around his neck, however, and shows no across the small room as nimbly as a pond skater on water.
sign of letting go. Her plump breasts press firmly against his “She waits until he falls asleep to tie him up, and now it’s
bony ribcage. her turn to interrogate him. Holding a gun to his head. She just
The man flips the CD over to examine the back. He adds wants one thing: his confession. So poetic. But the doctor refuses
up the time of all the movements, checking each carefully with to acknowledge he did anything. He insists that he had nothing
a latex-gloved fingertip. 38 minutes 28 seconds. He glances at to do with the military regime, that he was living abroad at the
his watch and turns to look out the window. The clouds have time. The husband doesn’t know who to believe either, because
just parted to show the pale face of the crescent moon. That’s a he knows his wife has a history of hysteria. So who’s telling the
bit long…The man turns around, fanning himself with the CD. truth? The “trial” goes on all night, but the doctor won’t admit
Another man is lying down on the single bed pushed against the doing anything. She finally tells him he’s getting the death
wall. His posture is as unnatural as that of a corpse on a slab, penalty anyway and drags him to this cliff on the seaside. The
lying straight on his back facing the ceiling. A briefcase lies ajar doctor is staring down at the waves crashing on the rocks at
next to the pillow, showing the portable respiratory equipment the bottom of the cliff. The sun is coming up when he finally
crammed inside. The tube connected to the aluminum oxygen confesses the truth. All of the atrocious things he did, the sweet
tank coils over the man’s chest and disappears inside his open taste of power in the torture chamber, how much he missed it all.
mouth. The f luorescent light glints in his pupils, drooping Now we’re just waiting to see if she carries out the sentence. She
eyelids giving them the appearance of being sliced in half. doesn’t say anything, just…lets him go.
“You like Schubert?” “I don’t like this ending at all. The truth, what does that
The man slides the disk inside the portable CD player on change? I’m not saying it’s useless. I’m just saying it’s like a
the desk without bothering to wait for an answer. He presses painting in the museum. Like the "Mona Lisa," "Starry Night,"
play and the air fills with the sound of faint static. Majestic cello "The Kiss"…It’s a beautiful thing, for sure. You go to see it and
strains signal the beginning of the first movement. The man experience the aura. Experience a little uplifting of the soul. Of
stands with his hands behind his back, listening to the string course it’s going to be plunged in the gutter as soon as you exit
quartet. He taps his left finger smartly in time with the music. the museum, but still. But scars are different. Scars are just for
“There was also a movie called Death and the Maiden, you. They’re there to remind you to never forget how you got
perhaps you’ve heard of it? A Roman Polanski movie starring this scar. She should have pushed the doctor off that cliff. It’s the
Sigourney Weaver. I think they called it The Truth in Korea. only thing to do. The only decent thing you can do for an old
Supposedly it was better for the box office that way. What kind friend like a scar.”
of title is that, though? …Stupid, really. No death, no maiden, The man twists his head to look down at the other man lying
just the truth.” in a frozen position. A reflection of his face appears in the dry
The man comes over and plops down on the bed next to the pupils under half-open eyelids.
prone figure. The movement sends a tremor through the other “You can’t move a muscle, can you? Or close your eyes. Don’t
man’s body like a raft rocked by the waves. worry. You’ve just had an injection of a muscle relaxant. It’s
“The movie is set in some South American country that just used in surgery with anesthesia to cut the muscles off from the
became a democracy after years under a fascist regime. The main nervous system. Much easier to cut and slice and dig around the
character used to be a student activist and she has post traumatic human body when the muscles are relaxed. You’re still conscious,
stress disorder now from all the torture she suffered. While though, aren’t you? You can hear well, too. Why don’t you just
blindfolded, she was raped and subjected to electric shocks over relax and enjoy the Schubert? I’m going to push you off the cliff
and over again by this torturer. He always put on Schubert’s anyway when this masterpiece is over.”

32 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

After a short pause, the second movement starts. A doleful the hour. But we were different from each other. A lot different.
tune oozes over the f loor and wraps itself around the man’s She was always laughing, good with people—she and Mother
ankles. could be fighting one minute and she could have her laughing
“Andante con moto. Slowly, but with motion. 26 minutes, the next—she was passionate about the normal teenage things,
58 seconds to go. In the meantime, let me tell you about myself. like boy bands, and she would always try out new things even
I assume you want to know something about the person who’s if she didn’t have the patience to finish them…She was born
going to kill you, am I right? Don’t worry; I shan’t waste your to light up a room wherever she went. It helped that she was
time with all the boring details.” a beauty, unlike me. Grandmother Samshin must have had a
The man rolls up his left sleeve and shoves his arm in front of cataract in one eye when she was blessing us. She gave all the
the captive’s face. A long, jagged scar runs across it. good stuff to my sister, and all the crappy stuff to me. Stuff like
“See this? I’m just going to tell you about this scar.” epilepsy.”
He rolls his sleeve back down and buttons the cuff. The man taps his foot in time with the rhythm of the music,
“I was nine when I had my first seizure. I was thumbing checks the digital screen of the player for the time elapsed.
through The Brothers Karamazov at the bookstore. Dostoyevsky. “Mother’s first-aid lesson turned out to be handy. For some
I was always a precocious child. Now that I think back, that reason, I was always having seizures when it was just the two of
precociousness was my body setting up a defense mechanism us at home. It made her quite protective of me. I could be eating
of sorts. I had to learn how the world works earlier than others. dinner, watching TV, having a bath…and I’d go out like a light,
Anyway, I was holding that book in my hand when I lost just like that. Like a fuse blowing out. And when I came to my
consciousness, and when I woke up I was in the emergency senses there she would be, looking down at me with her clear
room. They said the ambulance crew brought me there because I eyes. She’d smile and say, "Hi there." Those words were like a
suddenly collapsed and was having a seizure. I had nine stitches message of rebirth to me. That I had a new fuse, that it wasn’t
above my right eyebrow where I fell and banged my head on the my time yet. She looked like a saint to me, with the halo of the
corner of the bookcase. I was still in a daze. The confusing part fluorescent lamp hanging on the ceiling above her head. She
was my mother’s reaction. She didn’t say a word, not when we was so dazzling it hurt my eyes to look at her. I would be lying
were listening to the doctor’s explanation, not on the way home there on the ground, twitching like a bug somebody stepped on,
while she held me by the hand. I remember I was touching the and she would be sitting there quietly, watching her other half
bandage on my forehead, and I looked up and saw the sad lines foaming at the mouth, eyes rolling back into his head, limbs
around her mouth. flailing, shitting his pants when he lost control of his sphincter. I
“I learned the reason that evening. Mother sat me and wonder what she thought of it all?
my younger sister down and explained what had happened to “I’m sure she must have had her share of complaints. She
Father. He choked to death on his own vomit because he had an was just a kid who should’ve been hanging out with her friends,
epileptic attack when he was home alone. Not because of carbon and she was stuck at home all day because of me. My guardian
monoxide poisoning from a coal heating briquette, like she had angel from the day we were born. I was thankful for her, and I
told us before. We just nodded. It didn’t change the fact that he felt sorry for her. But there was always something dark and sticky
was dead, anyway. But we kept quiet because Mother was being lurking under the surface of my human feelings. Spreading like
so serious. There were no funny questions when she started some cancerous growth, taking over my entire body…Oh, I
giving first-aid instructions. Lay him on his side so the spittle knew him well.”
doesn’t go down his throat, clear the area of any dangerous The man gazes at the cover of the CD. The maiden’s arm
objects, loosen any buttons or belts or tight clothing, stay by seems to tighten around the skeleton man’s neck, choking him. A
his side until the seizures stop, etc., etc. And she made my sister glimpse of fear wells up in his dark, empty sockets. [……]
promise to never leave my side when she wasn’t home to watch
me. My sister just pouted. Mother was away almost every day translated by Cho Yoonna
because she cleaned houses.
“Actually it’s quite rare to die of an epileptic attack. That’s
exactly what happened to Mother with Father, though, so it’s
understandable that she was so vigilant about it. The sight of me
must have been a living reminder of her husband left alone in his
room, choking to death, and all the guilt she carried afterwards
for that. Which became my sister’s to carry from then on. Once
she came home from work early and found me alone in the
house. It was bad luck that my sister had chosen that day to go
play with her friends. Mother used the bamboo duster on her
calves until they were black and blue and kicked her out of the
house. On a snowy day, without any proper clothes. I lay on my
stomach reading Notes from Underground and I heard her crying Seven Cat Eyes
Choi Jae-hoon
from outside the window. Mommy, I’m sorry, Mommy, I’m Jaeum & Moeum Publishing Co.
sorry, Mommy… 2011, 378p, ISBN 9788957075418
“My sister and I are fraternal twins, born on the same day to

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 33

Reviews Fiction

Prodigal Son Returns

The Man at the Tip of the Tongue
Baek Min-seok
Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd.
2013, 256 p, ISBN 9788932024684


“I saw God on the tip of my tongue. indebted to Baek, but most of them expressed emotions as evolved as (^(oo)^)
God was walking in silence with his have merely served to point out how or (∼.^).
hair on fire. irreplaceable of an author Baek Min- Perhaps it would be too much to
God did not look like any man that I seok is. For this reason, his most recent call this the literary sublimation of the
knew. Nobody I knew had flaming hair collection has been hailed by many as despair and hatred he experienced as
like his. Nobody walked on the tip of his “release.” an author during the time of his self-
tongues bearing fire on their head. At first glance, “The Man on the Tip imposed retirement, compounded by
Never had I met anyone who walked of the Tongue” reads like a travelogue illness and death in his family, as well
in such absolute silence as God. No one of India, but the scope of exploration as a long battle with depression, but it is
had hair that burned so perfectly.” represented transcends the boundaries definitely a jocose example of how a once
(“The Man on the Tip of the of earthly countries. Pursuing the dry frighteningly serious author has begun
Tongue”) record of grotesque landscapes, the to include humor and wit in his arsenal.
reader soon realizes that this world, Ot her storie s in t he col lec t ion
Baek Min-seok ’s collection of short seething with silent desires, is none include the familiar landscape of slums
stories, The Man on the Tip of the Tongue, other than purgatory. The story is an from the author’s childhood in “The
feels like the mature confession of a exploration of that old sanctum of Birth of Violence,” as well as unusual
prodigal son who has put his wild, young anthropology, the desire towards deities. situations inserted into ordinary life to
ways behind him. Out of the nine stories A lso included in the collection surreal effect in “Nineteen-Eighties-Style
in the collection, this is particularly true is a story called “The Emoticons of Barricade” and “A Just, Eternal, and All-
of the title story. "The Man on the Tip Love and Hate.” Call it an apology encompassing Peace.”
of the Tongue" tells the story of god and for disappearing and not writing for
man. It is not the story of an almighty 10 years, but Baek's use of emoticons by Uh Soo-woong

god rescuing helpless men, however, but (read horizontally, as is Korean practice)
of a fake god created by men and the may well hold up as an example of 21st
men that are rescued by that fake god. century writing. The author certainly
This collection marks the return of makes use of digital parlance f luently
the prodigal son of the Korean literary in this story. It is revealed that he was
world, Baek Min-seok, after 10 years of once incapable of expressing emotions
silence. During those years, enormous other than those of joy, anger, sadness,
changes have come to pass in the world and pleasure as expressed by the most
and countless stories have been written, basic emoticons: >.< -.,- ㅜ.ㅜ ^.^.
but the general consensus is that few But then he experienced a numbing of
have succeeded in replacing Baek Min- emotions that made it difficult for him
seok’s singular brand of subversion. Since to make faces other than the most basic
the 1990s, many novelists have written expression of: •.•. It caused him much
works that are directly or indirectly despair that readers around him freely

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 39

Reviews Fiction

Award-winning Stories Collected

The Taste of Summer Three out of the 10 stories included in Ha small stove.
Ha Seong-nan Seong-nan’s collection of short stories, The Another motif is the doppelgänger.
Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Taste of Summer, are major literary award- This motif is used effectively in “The
2013, 368p, ISBN 9788932024493
winning pieces. Ha Seong-nan is a leading Story of Two Women” to depict the main
Korean writer, representative of Korean character’s compassion and guilt about the
aesthetics in literary short fiction. May 1980 uprising in the southern city of
Including the award-winning pieces, Gwangju, as well as in “Why Did She Go
the stories that appear in this collection to Suncheon?” in order to bring attention
share several motifs. The first noticeable to social problems such as kidnapping and
motif is the existence of an economically human trafficking.
incapable head of household. “The Time of The final motif is food: peaches in the
Alpha,” “Rhetorical Expressions from that title story; curry in “Curry on the Border”;
Summer,” and “April Fools’ Day in 1968” and pork belly in “Needless to Mention
are good examples of this first motif, a Pig.” Food is also a reference point for
along with “Needless to Mention a Pig.” subtle but clever wit hiding throughout
In “The Time of Alpha,” a father quits his this collection of stories.
teaching job and idly wanders the entire
country, supposedly to run a new business, by Choi Jae-bong
and in “Rhetorical Expressions from that
Summer,” a father leaves his family for a
small town in the country and opens a
store there. After his family experiences an
emergency, they go to see him at his store
in the small town and observe their father
alone while he boils summer potatoes on a


Struggling with Faith and Love

Blue, High Ladder him wit h numerous idea s about t he
Gong Ji-young
Hankyoreh Publishing Company
fundamental goal of religion in relation to
2013, 376p, ISBN 9788984317475 current Korean society.
Through Yohan’s struggle between
religion and earthly love, the author deals
Blue, High Ladder is the newly released with weighty topics, including religion and
novel by popular Korean writer, Gong reality, death and redemption. As Yohan
Ji-young, published four years after she repeatedly experiences death and loss,
released The Crucible (2009). The Crucible which are difficult for him to understand,
deals with the horrible sexual assault he often raises the question “Why, Lord?”
of menta lly disabled young students In the story, the suggested answer to this
committed by their teachers, and the question is, “Love means to love even that
conspiracy and solidarity of a self-serving which does not reciprocate!” This nihilistic
group to conceal their crime. The Crucible answer is Gong Ji-young’s own voice, a
was made into a film and caused quite a result of her long-standing humanistic and
stir in Korean society. religious conflicts from having returned to
The main character in Blue, High her Catholic roots.
Ladder is Jung Yohan, a young Catholic
monk who has finished theological school by Choi Jae-bong
and lives in a monastery. Jung begins
questioning and experiencing internal
conflicts when his soul is stirred by the
appearance of an attractive woman, Sohee.
His fellow monk, who espouses and applies
religion in social situations, inf luences

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 41

Reviews Fiction

Unlived Memories
Then What Shall We Sing? None of us have memories of the time mother is Korean and father is American.
Bak Solmay, Jaeum & Moeum Publishing Co.
2014, 260p, ISBN 9788957077931
before we are born. Yet emerging Korean The other is a Japanese man in his 60s
author Bak Solmay’s first collection of who runs a bar in Kyoto.
short stories, Then What Shall We Sing?, is Then What Shall We Sing? is one of
a unique effort to remember those times, the most unique literary approaches to
including a traumatic event which involves the Gwangju Massacre to date, as well as
a massacre. a compelling tale of self-discovery and
T he collection is comprised of a identity. Though she writes about her
total of seven stories, but its title story is own hometown, Bak manages to explore
arguably the most important. Bak was a rather universal theme: the meaning of
born in Gwangju in 1985, five years after learning about the time before we were
the Gwangju Massacre took place in May born–our history–however tragic and
1980. The protagonist is essentially Bak’s foreign it may be.
stand-in; the young woman was born and
raised in Gwangju, but didn’t witness by Claire Lee
the massacre of the approximately 200
pro-democracy demonstrators by former
President Chun Doo-hwan’s militar y
The stor y revolves a round her
encounters with non-Koreans in Berkeley,
California and Kyoto, Japan, who are
somehow aware of what happened in
Gwangju in 1980. One of the people she
meets is a woman named Hannah, whose

Dystopia after Death

Incense the endless Samsara, except there is no
Paik Gahuim, Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Nirvana. Life after death-you are just
2013, 255p, ISBN 9788932024554
who you are and the same problems and
agonies continue, with no end.
In author Paik Gahuim’s fantasy novel, In its haunting meditation on salvation
Incense, death does not end suffering. Life a nd s acr i f ic e, In ce n se a l so i nc lude s
goes on in a forest called Nemus, and references to the Bible, especially the
people continue to be selfish and cruel, Messiah. Paik’s characters–some cruel,
unaware that they are dead. An intense some foolish, some beautiful, and all blind
exploration of sin, death, and redemption, to their fate–bring to mind the dying
Incense is an illuminating account of some words of Jesus in his hour of suffering on
of the darkest of human experiences: rape, the cross: “Father, forgive them for they
murder, and revenge. know not what they do.”
Highly flawed and troubled characters The novel’s original Korean title,
fill the narrative, including an exploited Hyang, is a homonym for “incense” and
prostitute from Amsterdam, a corrupt “direction.” Both meanings complement
Korean politician, a Korean pedophile, the riveting, complex narrative, which
and an Englishman who constantly suffers re volves a rou nd repeated deat h a nd
from traumatic childhood memories. m i s t a k e s , obl i v ion, a nd c h a r a c t e r s
They form a rather dysfunctional, and lost in d irect ion, bot h litera l ly a nd
later, almost vicious community, where metaphorically.
the cruel continue to torment and the
tormented continue to suffer. For those by Claire Lee
who are not aware that they are dead,
there is no motivation to change. It is like

42 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Reviews Fiction

Violence Carries On
The Barbaric Miss Alice Someone walks precariously across the younger brother are raised by violence.
Hwang Jeong-eun flat ground, as if they were climbing up The siblings are exposed every day to
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. a steep hill. Meet “Alicia,” a homeless the violence of their own mother, which
2013, 164p, ISBN 9788954622745
transwoman. The stench of her body is “ like heated steel, hot a nd strong
odor clings unattractively to our nasal enough to change the temperature of its
membranes. Alicia, however, does not care surroundings.” Then there is the secondary
for anything as trifling as our well-being. violence of their father and neighbors who
The character of A licia was born turn a blind eye to their mother’s abuse.
after the author caught a glimpse of a Alicia’s brother’s attempt to escape violence
transwoman in Osaka, Japan. The mere results in the discovery of the boy’s corpse.
image of her back was so powerful that the Later, an adult Alicia sees her mother’s
author was inspired to create a compelling face reflected in her own. Like the bedtime
character that tries and fails to escape from stories she once told her brother of a young
“the focus of violence.” boy named Alice who had fallen down a
The village of Gomori is A licia’s bottomless rabbit hole, the siblings cannot
childhood home. The greatest concern escape from the circle of violence.
of the villagers, including Alicia’s father, “How far have you come?” the narrator
is to make sure they are compensated for repeatedly asks throughout the story. The
the redevelopment projects set in their question is all the more chilling as we try
neighborhood. It is a place where ginkgo to recall whether we too have turned away
trees grow thick in soil enriched by the from the inconvenient stench of violence,
entrails and bones of dogs butchered for enabling violence by our tacit withdrawal.
It is in t his biz a rre a nd desolate by Jung Seo Rin
environment that Alicia and her beloved


Who Dares to Condemn Her?

Punch absurdity. Somehow, we silently applaud the “punch”
Lee Jaechan, Minumsa
Her lawyer father lines his pockets in she throws toward the indifference of
2013, 256p, ISBN 9788937488238
exchange for covering up the corruption of society that we have long since learned to
the elite. Her mother tries hard to fix her accept.
“I’m a 5.” so-called defective daughter, who is neither
Thus begins the f irst sentence of a good student nor a beauty. Her parents’ by Jung Seo Rin
L e e Ja e c h a n’s nove l, P u n c h, ne at ly religion has long forsaken the command
encapsulating the protagonist’s coolly to love thy neighbor, being too occupied
succinct grasp of reality. In Punch, the with satisfying their own greed. Utterly
rating of 5 is the lowest on a scale of 1 to 5 torn to pieces by the standards of society,
when it comes to assessing a person. the protagonist decides to leave her parents
The 18 -yea r-old na rrator, a high in shreds as well; she hires a hit man to kill
school girl facing university entrance them.
exams, is all too aware that one’s place Pa r r ic ide , mu rder for h i re — t he
in society is determined by the painfully theme is a heavy invitation into an abyss.
shallow standards of going to elite schools, Nevertheless, Lee consistently steers the
having money, and being pretty. So she narrative toward the cheerful, with vivid
nonchalantly tells herself she is “forever images and rhythmic sentences, befitting a
cursed to bear the shame of being a 5, novelist whose first foray into writing was
from brains to looks.” as a scriptwriter.
To the protagonist, her home, school, While the teen’s methods are shocking,
a nd societ y a re places f low ing w it h she feels no guilt, anxiety, or confusion.
invisible blood, best summed up in words Still, the reader cannot possibly condemn
like violence, oppression, hypocrisy, and her in the name of ethics or mora ls.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 43

Reviews Fiction

Truth Is Subjective
a clear-cut picture. Author Lee Jangwook
constructed the narrative by telling it
from the perspective of each character:
first Kim, then Choi, and finally Jeong.
The strange questions that arise from each
Stranger than Paradise The novel Stranger than Paradise offers
Lee Jangwook, Minumsa, 2013, 276p person’s viewpoint overlap as their stories
a unique narrative structure with each
ISBN 9788937473043 unravel. Readers will have a hard time
character’s point of view accessible to the
figuring out whose recollection comes
reader. The book reads like a road trip
closest to the truth. In actuality, it does not
movie telling the story of two men and a
matter whether or not each individual’s
woman traveling in a car.
story is correct since every recollection and
K im a nd Choi a re t he t wo ma le
testimony has, in its own way, a kernel of
characters and Jeong is Kim’s wife. They
all attended the same university and are
There is a t wist at the end of the
on their way to attend the funeral of their
novel, which overrides all the testimonies:
mutual female friend, “A,” who was a
there was a camera observing them the
fellow member of the film club during
whole time. Like the viewf inder of a
their college days. While they are traveling
camera suspended overhead by a crane,
to the small, provincial town for her
it completely alters the perspective of the
funeral, each of them reminisces about A,
three characters.
ref lecting on things that had happened
between them. All three had once loved by Kim Young-burn
A, but each has a bitter memory of their
love not coming to fruition. They all think
they know A, yet when they share their
stories about her, their recollections vary.
In fact, even their views on the events that
take place during their trip are completely
Stranger than Paradise does not provide

Our Neighbors, Ourselves

The Well-being of My Neighbor My Neighbor,” Bin, the protagonist, is a a kind of family and evaluate my own life
Pyo Myoung-hee, Kang Publishing Ltd. college lecturer who is barely able to eke accordingly.”
2014, 251p, ISBN 9788982181887
out a living. He lives alone on the second
by Kim Young-burn
floor of a multiplex apartment building.
The Well - being of My Neighbor i s a Bin is ver y sensitive to air pollution
collection of seven short stories that because he has a weak respiratory system.
ref lects how one is mirrored by one’s In the end, it is none other than cigarette
neig hbors. Aut hor P yo Myoung- smoke that eventually connects him with
hee suggests that in a contemporar y his neighbor. One day Bin finds himself
society where everyone has resorted to subject to severe discomfort because of the
individualism, one can eventually discover smoke seeping through the pipes on his
his or her true self based on the nature balcony. The unbearable cigarette smoke
of their tenuous connection to their reminds Bin of his frequently stolen mail,
neighbors. The protagonists in each of and he begins to suspect the man who
the stories endure their hardships while lives below him as the possible culprit.
living mostly in solitude. In a sense, they Bin rummages through his neighbor’s
live absolutely isolated lives. However, mail in order to learn more about him and
they begin to examine themselves through through this initial suspicion, Bin gets to
their encounters with their neighbors and know his neighbor.
subsequently contemplate what it means The author states, “Your neighbors are
to be a neighbor. It is moving to read the the people most closely linked to your life.
passages where a character, accustomed to Therefore, their problems can become the
isolated city living, makes a connection, mirror with which we can examine our
albeit weak and fragile, with a neighbor. own lives. Because I live alone, I view my
In the title story, “The Well-being of neighbors in our communal residence as

44 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Spotlight on Fiction

The Gaze at
Broad Daylight
a story by Lee Seung-U
translated by Paul Jonghan Yoon
If Malte had known about Han’s criticism of Romaine
The Gaze at Broad Daylight Gary (this is not possible as Rainer Maria Rilke, who used
Malte as his voice, died in 1926 and Han Seung-Won was
born in 1939), perhaps he may have revised the first sentence
in his notebook. That is, people came to the city to live, but
1 for various reasons—meteorological, sociological, or other
reasons—they died because they just couldn’t survive.
“Here, then, is where people come to live; I’d have thought Regardless, I believe that he would not have revised
it more a place to die in.” Malte Laurids Brigge begins his his first sentence anyway. In his notebook, Malte was not
notebook with this sentence. This young man—sickly, lonely, describing the city’s external landscape but projecting his
impoverished, and hypersensitive to memories of the past— inner world onto it. What we can read and understand from
smells the air of anxiety and death in this alien city only three his notebook is not the physical landscape of the city but his
weeks after he arrives. That this city, where people came to inner universe. When you are depressed, the world loses light.
die, was none other than Paris is a sentiment that is not easy to The depression inside you swallows up the light in the outside
understand, even considering the fact that this writing dates world. In this case, the inner depression is like a black and
back about a hundred years. After all, it is said that Paris is white photocopying machine. No painting—no matter how
where the concept of “taking a walk” was invented. If it was colorful and brilliant their colors are—can retain its original
a good place to go for a walk, one could also presume that it hue and brightness once they go through such a machine. It
must have also been a good city to live in. I wonder if Rilke can only come out vague and drab. Malte sees the landscape
had heard of Varanasi, the place where pilgrims come to die. of the city and its pedestrians through the “internal black and
It is Varanasi, not Paris, where men come to die. As the saying white photocopying machine” inside him. This is why I believe
goes, birds go to Peru to die and men, the Ganges. that Malte would not have changed his first sentence. He is not
Romaine Gary treated the suicidal phenomenon of a huge interested in meteorological science. On this, Malte is clearly
flock of birds flying to Peruvian seashores to die as a mystery. on Romaine Gary’s side, not on the side of Han Seung-Won.
Gary wrote, “The birds whose blood was beginning to get I arrived at midnight in this small city of thirty thousand
cold and had just enough strength to fly, came to Peru and people located near the cease-fire line. I arrived on the last
threw themselves at the seashore.” Here he was implicitly bus to the city that day. The bus, which had been carrying
comparing Peruvian beaches to the Ganges River—as if birds passengers back and forth on the same road for the whole day,
had a yearning for a holy place. About forty years after his looked like an exhausted camel, and the driver, a hump on
novel was published (Birds Go to Peru to Die was published in the camel’s back. It was hot inside the bus and the air, mixed
1962), an author in Korea wrote a paper criticizing Romaine with various unknown smells and giving off strangely repulsive
Gary's lack of meteorological knowledge. It was Han Seung- odors, wasn’t circulating. There were six passengers on the
Won, the "writer of the ocean," who claimed that Romaine bus, four of whom were soldiers. They were returning to the
Gary wrote it that way because he did not know about the El base after a brief vacation. They all had different ranks but
Niño phenomenon, a phenomenon that occurs when ocean the same grim expressions on their faces. The higher ranking
water warms up. According to Han, birds came to Peruvian soldier pushed the chair back low, flung himself against the
seashores and died, not because it was a holy land for birds, i.e., chair, and closed his eyes as soon as he got on the bus; the
a Varanasi for birds, so to speak, but rather, it was simply due private made rustling sounds while tearing open the plastic
to the lack of availability of plankton caused by El Niño, which wrapping of a pastry. The two other soldiers kept gazing into
prevented anchovies from coming to Peruvian sea. The birds the darkness outside the window. I became curious about
flew to Peruvian seashores to live, to feed on anchovies, not to what it was that they were staring at. I wondered if they were
die. However, there weren’t any anchovies in the area, so they looking at anything at all. I have no doubt there was something
weren’t able to live and ended up starving to death. worth looking at, even in the darkness. Darkness is always

46 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

hiding something within itself. Darkness is dark because it 3
has something to protect. However, it didn’t appear that the
soldiers’ eyes were focused on anything specific. The grim and Unexpectedly, my days at the country house were surprisingly
rigid expressions on their faces invoked an anxiety in me as I satisfying. I spent most of my time reading books in my
was heading in the same direction as they were. Invoke! I was room. Mother thought I might be bored and told me to visit
startled by this word that I had invoked from my subconscious Seoul once in a while and meet some friends, but her fear was
self. That I “invoked” it suggested that it had been crouching unfounded. I did not much care to meet friends, not even P.
within me all along. That which is invoked had been waiting Sometimes I would spend the whole day going back and forth
to be invoked, laying dormant until invoked by another. between my study and the living room, just lounging. I would
Because it has been waiting, it responds immediately, even to start reading a book lying on my back on the floor, roll over
the slightest act of invocation. You could also say that anxiety and lie on my side, then after a while, turn around and sit
stems from the anxiety of not being invoked by someone else. down…and then lie on my back, roll over again, and so on.
In order to suppress my anxiety, I called out to the soldiers I would travel across all the rooms in the house that way. If I
on the other side and asked, "How long does it take?" The felt like sleeping after reading for a while, I just went to sleep
soldiers who were gazing outside the window did not respond. without hesitation. Once in a while, I went out for a walk. The
I thought about calling to them again, but feeling embarrassed, scent of pine nut trees was mellow and balmy. The wind gently
decided against it. A man with a tanned face sitting behind stroked the trees and grass like a large caressing hand and the
them answered instead, informing me that it would take about birds sang in difference voices. The birds sang differently in the
an hour and a half. The truth is that I already knew how long it morning than at dusk. At sunset, I saw a grey rabbit that was
would take. Before I got on the bus, I had searched the Internet hopping around, as if it were being careful not to scratch the
and learned that it took anywhere from two hours and ten grass. I crouched down low and stayed still so that I wouldn’t
minutes to two hours and thirty minutes. The time between scare it away. The nervous rabbit pricked its ears and stared at
buses was an hour and thirty minutes, so if you missed a bus, the big animal with suspicion. Then he quickly ran away and
you had to wait for an hour and thirty minutes. The last bus disappeared into the forest.
left at eight thirty. I had also read about local specialty foods Once in a while, I ventured a little deeper into the forest.
and tourist spots and gleaned some more information, but The scent emanating from the forest and grass covering
could only remember that there were commercial passenger the mountain made my body feel infinitely light; I felt my
boats close by and many military posts around the area. Not weightless body floating in the air. When I was in the forest,
far from them, there was also a secret military underground I could really feel the connection between all of the organs of
tunnel from North Korea that had been discovered. the human body. I was even beginning to think that if I were
A disconcerting silence pervaded the bus. Only the sound exposed to the spirit of the forest for a long time, I might even
of the engine, like the groaning of a tired camel, stirred the be able to perform magic.
surface of the silence. Exhaust, emitted from the bus as it ran Though she had promised, my mother did not visit often.
up the hill, slipped inside the bus. The unexhausted carbon She was busy and I also told her that she did not have to come
monoxide and nitrogen gas mixed with the stench in the air around a lot. Then again, considering that she was not the
and made my stomach turn and made me feel nauseous. I kind of person who would listen to me, the truth is, it was
didn't have anything to eat, but did not expect to get carsick. probably more because she was busy. At first, the housekeeper
Trying to swallow the acid coming up from the stomach, came every day to cook meals and clean the house. Three days
I started pressing my head with my fingers. Then the first in, she starting coming just once every three days. For both
sentence from Malte's notebook flashed in my mind like an cooking and cleaning, this was sufficient. Since I lived alone,
inauspicious omen. Was I going to this place to live or to die? there wasn't much dust to clean and the house remained tidy
for several days without much effort. Also, it wasn’t really
[. . .] necessary to prepare food for one person every day.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 47

P called me often though. She wanted to visit me, but I as a housewarming gift. Then, although I did not really intend
forbade her from visiting, on the grounds that my disease was to ask him in, since he had already entered the foyer, I offered
contagious. him some coffee. I thought it would be rude of me to send
I also told her, “It would be prudent for you not to contact away a neighbor who came to welcome me, especially when he
me for a while. That’s why I’m here to begin with. I’ve been went to the trouble of bringing me a housewarming gift.
quarantined. Do you think I’m here for vacation?” He was a retired college professor. His field was psychology
Every time I said this to her, I felt guilty. Whatever the and he lived with his wife. He had moved here right after his
reason, I was feeling an inexplicable sense of happiness in retirement. He also told me that his wife was in bad health and
this place. It was true that tuberculosis was contagious, so had trouble moving around. He was taking care of his ailing
I wasn’t lying to her—at least not technically. I just didn’t wife, as she was essentially just waiting for her death. After
want her to suddenly show up and disrupt this new peace I introducing himself like this, he asked me why a young man
was experiencing, perhaps for the first time in my life. I even like me was living here alone. I could’ve been offended, since
thought that it was good that tuberculosis was contagious. he was basically implying that this was the kind of place where
It was not like I was tired of her and didn’t want to see her only old people came to live, but I didn’t mind. Also, his "I’ve
any more. It was just that, for the first time in my life, I was told you my story so why don’t you tell me yours" attitude
alone with nature. Until then, I had never been completely didn’t bother me, because I was familiar with this customary
alone; I had never not been surrounded by people. Until I practice. We usually do not talk about ourselves unless we’re
came to the forest, I wasn’t even aware of the fact that I had confident that the other is willing to talk about himself. In
never been alone. Perhaps, then, it was natural that I had some cases, we tell our stories first, even if the other person
never felt a need to be alone. In many cases, you do not want doesn’t particularly want to hear it, in order to make the other
what you need because you do not know that you need it. person tell their story, which we want to hear. Like most things
Ironically, you realize that you actually needed it only when in our lives, the terms of trade govern our conversations. I told
the unwanted need has been accidentally fulfilled. We live our him that that I was a graduate student, but my health was in
lives not really understanding what it is that we truly need. bad condition, so I was taking a leave of absence from school. I
This is absurd, of course. However, this is how it is with most also told him that it was my mother who had bought the land,
people. For example, when your lover leaves you, you suddenly which was basically a wasteland before, built country homes
find yourself in need of something that you didn’t realize that on it, and then sold them for profit. The retired professor was
you needed when she was with you. Sometimes you come to nodding for some mysterious reason, but I didn’t care much to
understand something that you did not when you were able to know why.
sleep only when you become unable to sleep. Sometimes you Then he asked me, “How about your father?” as if it were
come to understand things in your old age that you did not the next natural question to ask. Of course, there was no order
understand in your youth. It is a contradiction, but unless you for questions like these.
realize that you need it, you cannot really want it. That is what “I don’t have one,” I said immediately.
I mean when I say you can’t help it. In any case, for the first The conversation was supposed to go in a different
time in my life, I was absorbed in my inner world of silence direction from there. That’s what usually happened. When I
and solitude, living in a strangely inexplicable happiness. For told people that I did not have a father, they usually didn’t ask
me, it was an exceptional experience. about him again. Although it wasn’t necessary, some would
However, this happiness did not last long. One day, a even say they were sorry to have asked the question. In any
stranger knocked at my door. He lived in one of the other five case, the conversation would stop there and a new conversation
identical-looking condominiums. He said he had noticed that would begin. However, the retired professor was different than
my house lights were on. Since the house had previously been most people.
vacant, he realized that a new tenant had moved in and just “When did he pass away?” he asked.
came by to say hello. He also handed me a pack of toilet paper He assumed that my father was deceased and was asking

48 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

me when he died. Smiling, I retorted that I had not said that myself or not, and this made me angry.
he was dead; I said I didn’t have one. Then, looking straight The old neighbor must have also realized that our
into my eyes, the old professor said bluntly “If you say you conversation had gone astray, or at least he sensed that he had
don’t have a father, it must mean that he has passed away.” finally managed to anger his host, so he laughed and said
Feeling defiant, I said “Isn’t it also possible that my parents reproachfully, “This is why you shouldn’t stay at a teaching job
could be divorced?” too long. I can understand why they call it an occupational
“That is not the same thing as not having one,” he replied. hazard.” Then he stood up to leave.
I had a feeling that the conversation would not go smoothly “Thanks for the coffee. Let’s talk again.” Then he left. He
from here. even waved as he was leaving. His visit was no ordinary event,
“If he isn’t around, it’s basically the same thing, isn’t it?” I but I tried to ignore it. But, as if my heart had been pricked
blurted out, expecting an immediate objection. by a needle, my conscience was feeling pained. This was proof
As expected, he objected. “If you say you don’t have a that I wouldn’t be able to ignore this event, even if I tried.
father, it means he does not exist. It doesn’t matter if he is here The next morning I was taking a walk through the forest
or far away. It can still only mean that he does not exist. It’s and realized that there was anxiety in my heart that was
illogical for you to say what exists does not exist. The principle disrupting my peace. It was as if it was forcing my mind
that applies to physical distance also applies to human outwards, which was stepping backward in disbelief as if
relationships. What is here exists. What is far away also exists. scolding, "You still don't understand this?" And then strange
Furthermore, there is a truth that no one can deny, and cannot things started to happen.
be denied under any circumstance, and that is the existence That day, I saw a naked man walking in the forest. He
of a father. That is what a father is. Let me clarify again. A strolled along, aglow with the reddish rays of the setting sun
father does not cease to exist unless he dies. In certain cases, he cascading through the long branches of trees. It was not dark
continues to exist even after his death.” enough yet in the forest to mistake him for a wild animal, and
The old professor’s logic seemed to make sense but I did it was also very evident that he was walking upright. Although
not think he understood how I felt when I talked about my it was unusual, I didn’t pay too much attention to this at first,
father. Then again, logic and feeling are two different mental for I had run into people taking a walk in the forest before.
activities. Should I have said I didn’t care whether he existed Nevertheless, I didn’t want to face any unnecessary trouble and
or not? I thought I might have expressed my feelings better changed my usual course, but somehow I ended up seeing him
that way. Actually, even that was not a satisfying answer either. again. This time, he was walking toward me from the opposite
I finally thought that it would be better to say, "It’s not that direction, swinging his arms. When I had seen him earlier, I
I don’t have a father, but I do not have a concept of one." So, had thought that he was just not wearing a shirt but that wasn’t
after taking some time to think, that’s what I said, as if it were the case. He was stark naked and had no clothes on. He had a
an excuse. beard that covered his face from his ears to his chin, giving the
He stared at me with a pitiful look for a while and replied, “It impression of a round face. He also had a hairy chest and legs,
is probably your father’s attention that you don’t have, not the and although he wasn’t very tall, he was muscular. It wasn’t
concept.” Then he added, “If that were true, your father did easy to guess his age from his appearance. He looked young in
not die. He was murdered in your mind.” a way and old in another. Not knowing what to do, I stopped
At that moment, I panicked. I realized that the old man walking and stood still. I didn’t know where to rest my eyes.
was leading me astray in the conversation; I was being dragged However, as if his nakedness was nothing unusual, he just
along and led off track like a fool, though I didn’t know why walked past by me, swinging his arms as usual. He even raised
he was doing this to me. I was suspicious of him for being so a hand to greet me. Although I couldn’t see clearly, I thought
aggressive but I didn’t have the composure to confront him for he might have even smiled at me. Looking at him walking
his aggressiveness. I didn’t know how to express my feelings of away from me, I asked myself if I were dreaming. Perhaps I saw
discomfort and I was unsure whether it was better to express a phantom. If he’s not a phantom, who is that man walking

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 49

around in the forest naked? As if hypnotized, I stood still there Completely perplexed, I walked hurriedly home again.
for a while, completely frozen. As I was taking a hot bath, it occurred to me that it wasn’t
The vivid figure of the man walking past me slowly faded the first time I’d had this looming fear of a chance-encounter
and suddenly turned into an image. It wasn’t exactly the same with someone I knew vaguely but whose identity I did not
but I was engulfed with a strange feeling that a character in a know. This vague memory, which had been pushed aside
movie had torn his way out of the movie screen and jumped because I did not let it float to the surface of my consciousness,
into reality before my eyes, or vice versa. In other words, it finally began to emerge.
was a feeling of loitering at a crossroads of fantasy and reality. In the past, there were times I had goose bumps all over my
It was getting dark and bleak and I started feeling chilly. I body and shrank in fear at the thought of someone attacking
was confused and dizzy. As if trying to escape from a movie, I me by jumping out from around a corner or from the top or
hastened my pace to leave the forest. I was feeling nervous, as bottom of the staircase at midnight as I got off the elevator and
if at any moment someone might start chasing me and grab me was about to step toward the corridor in my apartment. When
by the neck. I wanted to turn around and look but I couldn’t— that happened, I would get off the elevator and, as if I were a
I was afraid of getting stuck. I started recollecting stories secret agent, check all the corners to make sure there was no
where the characters, just by looking back, got sucked into the one there before taking another step. It didn’t always happen
underworld or turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s wife turned into this way but I had these experiences often enough. Later I
a pillar of salt when she turned around to look, curious about realized that just as I turned the corner, I became momentarily
what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah, which was nervous at the thought of encountering someone that I knew
being punished with the fire of sulfur. Eurydice lost her chance but would rather avoid because I was uncomfortable meeting
to escape the underworld when her husband Orpheus turned him. However, I could never figure out who he was, how I
around to look back. The brilliant songs of Orpheus that had knew him, or why I felt so uncomfortable and wanted to avoid
quieted Cerberus, the ferocious dog guarding the gate of hell, him.
lost all of its brilliance with the one act of looking back. These At the time, I guessed that it was a side effect of Sudden
stories remind us of the calamity that lurks behind the act of Attack, an Internet game I had been addicted to. You had to
looking back. I could not understand how the forest that had shoot down enemies who moved between and hid behind
offered me such blissful peace and happiness just moments ago buildings. I played that game for six straight months my junior
could've changed so quickly, now planting fear in my mind. year at college while hanging out with a friend who had a
Just as I could not explain my peace, I could not explain my part-time job at an Internet café. The key to the game was to
fear either. Without looking back, I walked hurriedly home. find enemies hiding behind the corners of buildings, or at the
However, the sense of fear grew stronger the next day as crossroads, and shoot them down first. For a few months when
I was talking a walk in the forest. Unlike other days, I found I was deeply into the game, I sometimes experienced seeing a
myself turning my head to look around more often. But each projection of the computer game screen before my eyes, even
time I turned around and looked, no one was there. Still, I when I was not playing. So it wasn’t too far fetched an idea to
could feel the presence of someone near me, even though I speculate that my suddenly heightened fear when turning a
could not see anyone. At first, I didn’t realize that I was feeling corner was due to the game, which had somehow infiltrated
nervous about my surroundings. Then it suddenly occurred my sense of reality. There was one flaw in the hypothesis,
to me that it was not simply a feeling of nervousness about though—I had had that experience once even before I became
my surroundings, but that I was anticipating an encounter addicted to the game. So I couldn’t conclude positively that
with someone and that was what was striking fear in me. At this fear had been caused by the game or rather that the game
the core of my fear was that he was someone I knew. But here had merely reinforced an existing fear. Once in a while, and
was another problem. I recognized him but did not know very intensely, I suffered from an anxiety that I might meet
who he was—I did not know who he was but somehow I someone I wanted to avoid in a situation that I could not
recognized him. It was a fear that was vague yet overwhelming. escape. When I stopped and thought about it, a person who

50 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

could show up from around the corner in the game had to be with a faint smile on his face, and whenever he did this, I tried
your enemy, not someone you knew and were familiar with. to avoid him. I was too young to understand the complexity
That was also different. In the end, I realized that it wouldn’t of the emotions hidden behind his gaze. It was once on my
make much sense to treat the fear as it was simply due to mother's—his sister's—birthday that I finally really caught a
remnants of the images from the game. I was certain that it glimpse of the hidden compassion and sympathy in his look.
was a psychological phenomenon that was more profound and I was fifteen years old. My uncle was quietly looking at my
complex, rooted deeply in my personal history, rather than in mother, who had just blown out the candles on a birthday cake
external influences, and that went back much further than I and was feeling a bit embarrassed about being a birthday girl.
had previously thought. In his gaze, I could sense an inexplicable compassion, a kind
Perhaps I should have known that it was a fear that had of deep earnestness and sympathy toward her. Then I realized
been neglected and left alone in the back of my mind and was that he was gazing at my mother's face in the same way he
finally surfacing, as if confidently saying, "Look, here I am." I gazed at mine, the gaze that I had tried to avoid, unable to
realized that I could not escape it and was also aware that even understand what it meant. As time passed, I gradually began
if I could, I did not know what I needed to do to escape it. I to realize that it was his sister he was looking at when he was
became afraid of taking walks in the forest. I no longer felt at looking at me. Even as he looked at me, he saw his sister in me.
peace. In other words, his gaze was not directed at me. To him, my
Listening to my story, P burst into laughter. “Maybe you existence was relevant only in terms of reminding him of his
actually saw a wild beast? Like a deer or boar. Honey, you sister's circumstances, life, and fate. It had been like this long
know you have poor vision. You also said you didn’t have your before and was the same even now.
glasses on…" It was true that I had poor vision. It was also I don't mean to say that I was excited to remember that I
true that at the time, I had not been wearing my glasses, but had an uncle, like Archimedes who, after discovering the law of
it angered me to hear that she thought I’d mistaken a deer or volume and mass, jumped out of the bathtub and ran into the
boar for a man. I told her she was not taking me seriously and street proclaiming "Eureka!” I just felt as if a deep loving gaze
hung up. P called back and told me I was being overly sensitive was looking down on me from the sky and the thought that I
and then chattered on for a while; I kept my mouth shut and too had an uncle suddenly came to mind.
didn’t respond. She said she wanted to visit me but I firmly I talked for some time about many different things with
refused. She didn’t seem to understand at all. To be frank, I my uncle, even repeating things that I had already said. He
couldn’t understand myself either. Even in my own opinion, I just quietly listened. I talked about my dreams, about the old
agreed that I was being overly sensitive. retired professor, and how I had become afraid of encountering
someone showing up from around a corner. My stories were
[. . .] all jumbled up, but he stayed quiet regardless. My speech was
like a rollercoaster, going up a hill before going back down a
5 valley. I would become hesitant and then serious, then talk
excitedly and then mutter. Even so, somehow, he understood
Driven by a mysterious impulse, I called my uncle. The exactly what I was trying to say. I even felt that he understood
old professor, by telling me the story of the man who had what I wanted to say better than I did. In a way, this was
murdered his uncle, had unknowingly reminded me that I too understandable because, although I called him driven by a
had an uncle. Of course my uncle was completely different strange impulse that I couldn’t quite comprehend, I really did
than the uncle in the tragic story. My uncle had never insulted not know precisely what it was that I wanted. I had been living
me nor interfered with my life. In fact, he had always kept entrapped in fear that one day I would encounter someone in a
his silence, not saying much when I was around. Instead, my way I did not want. However, there was something suspiciously
memory of him was filled with images of his deep, loving gaze. strange about that fear too. On the surface, I did not to want
When I was young he used to gaze at my face for a long time to meet him; but in truth, I wondered if I was panicking

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 51

because I might not meet him. Did it make sense to say that I at then. He asked, "Do you want to find him?"
wanted to meet someone I did not want to meet? I was afraid To me, his question sounded more like, “Will you be OK?”
that things would happen the way I wanted to even if I did not I nodded. He couldn’t have seen me nodding, but he let out a
really want them to. Chaos—the earth was without form and long sigh. It was a sound you make when you realize that you
void; darkness was upon the face of the deep. have to accept something even if you don’t want to. I could feel
My uncle opened his mouth after a long silence and said, an air of tragic seriousness in the air. Perhaps it was due to the
"So you’re looking for your Father?" When I heard that, I felt sound of my uncle sighing.
numb, as if my forehead had been hit by shards of ice. Then I
came to my senses. It was as if I had just heard a divine voice 6
saying, "Let there be light."
He clarified precisely what it was that I wanted, but did The inn where I was staying was inside the bar’s alley, which
not want at the same time. But the light cast on the darkness was narrow and smelly. At night, drunk soldiers urinate or
was too brilliant and too sudden so I was pushed myself back vomit on the fence outside the inn. The wall had a rather big
into the darkness again. I felt a little dizzy. Now I knew that sign that read "No Urinating" in red paint, and even had a
the gaze I’d subconsciously felt was my father’s. But I didn’t pair of scissors drawn beside it, but it was unlikely that drunk
dare say this out loud. Even in the middle of my confusion, lads, especially at night, paid any attention to it. There was a
I worried that my uncle would catch a hint of acting in my street lamp fifty meters away and the acrylic billboard of the
tone. A play delivers what a character understands through inn was blurred by dust and dirt. The lamp blinked regularly,
an actors' dialogue. One could say dialogue is always used to indicating that it was probably about time to replace it. It was
verify or communicate what characters know. If an actor on dark enough at the bottom of the wall for drunks leaving the
stage doesn’t deliver his lines, not only the audience, but also bar, staggering and in good spirits, to unzip their flies and
the other actors on stage, including the actor himself, will urinate there. In the morning, the inn's owner would throw
not understand what he knows. Sometimes they choose to water at the wall, cursing into the air. However, the smell
willingly remain in a state of incomprehension. An actor uses didn’t dissipate that easily. On a cloudy day, sitting in the room
his dialogue to communicate facts that are already obvious, inside the house, you could smell the stink of old piss carried
clear, and well-understood, to liberate the audience and the by the wind, sneaking into the room through the door crack.
characters on stage, who have decided to remain in a state Still, the inn owner couldn’t complain because the people who
of incomprehension or have been entrapped—or decided to urinated against the wall usually ended up staying at the inn.
be entrapped—by such a rule. One could say it is a form of There was no special reason for me to choose that inn.
regurgitation. This is the reason why an actor's dialogue tends I arrived late at night in this city of thirty thousand people,
to sound exaggerated on the stage. What transpired in my located as close as possible to the cease-fire line, and was
dialogue, “In other words, the gaze that I’d felt subconsciously strolling down the street, trying to get myself acquainted with
was my father’s,” woke me up from my willful state of the new place. But as soon as I took a few steps I realized that
unknowing. I thought about other lines that I had to say. this was a bad idea. First, because the wind against my skin
"There’s no doubt that it was my father’s tombstone. I was was much colder than I’d expected, which was maybe why
definitely looking at his tombstone but I couldn’t read his I saw almost no one else on the street, and secondly, it had
name on the stone. It wasn’t that his name wasn’t written on it. become dark. Most of the stores had their shutters down and
If the name wasn’t written there, how could I have known that their lights turned off. There were street lamps here and there,
the tombstone was my father's? The reason I was convinced but they looked like they were shivering from the cold instead
that the tombstone was my father's was because I did see his of generating light. It wasn’t just dark, but also chilly and
name on it. But what exactly had I read on the tombstone if I desolate. I almost regretted having come here. Have I come
don’t even know his name? What exactly was written on it?” here to live or to die? I recalled the sentence from Rilke's book.
I was curious what my uncle's deep loving eyes were gazing Trying to shake off that persistent question, I looked around

52 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

and tried to find a place to spend the night. That’s when I saw farm that you’re looking for?" She dried her hands in her apron,
the sign that read "Traveler's Inn" in the corner of the entrance looking keenly interested.
to an alley. I later found out that there was another inn about "The person I’m looking for is a man..." I squeaked this out
a block away that was fairly new and much cleaner, and a as if I were a man who had committed a crime.
few more not too far from there as well, but that night the "A man. Who?" She asked again, as if she were interrogating
Traveler's Inn was the only place I saw. A few days later, I also me. I didn’t know why but I couldn't muster a response. When
learned that Traveler's Inn was the oldest, the most decrepit, I hesitated, she started making gestures to urge me to speak.
and the dirtiest of the lot, and therefore the cheapest place in "What is his name? Give me his name."
town. But I didn’t think about moving elsewhere because I My tongue was searching for his name in my mouth. If
wasn’t sure how long I would be staying, and after becoming you move your tongue and let the air in, it makes a sound. A
accustomed to the place, I didn’t want to bother moving again. combination of several consonants and vowels. It won’t even
To compensate for the small and smelly room, there was a large take a second to pronounce those syllables. However, a name
garden that had fruit trees, various flowers, and a vegetable isn’t simply a collection of simple syllables. To say someone’s
garden that I could enjoy, perks that the other establishments name isn’t just the basic operation of one’s tongue combined
didn’t offer. There was also the benefit of not having to look with air. A name is like the soul of our being. To say someone’s
for a place to eat. The inn owner cooked and prepared meals name is to acknowledge their existence and affirm it. When
using homegrown vegetables for her guests. She did charge for we say someone’s name, we experience our soul connecting to
the meals but the price was next to nothing. the soul of the being whose name is being spoken. For certain
From the first day, she was curious about how long I names, it’s enough for the name to simply reach your lips to
would be staying. How long would I stay here? I asked the get you excited and stirred. For other names, your muscles
same question to myself. Uncertain of how long it would be, I immediately start to repulse before bringing it to your lips.
scratched my head. Looking at me suspiciously, she asked me Certain names make you excited and others, depressed. There
whether I had come to meet a friend doing military service on are names that you don’t dare say and there are names that
the base. "No," I replied. Then she asked me the purpose of you say reluctantly. This phenomenon occurs because of the
my visit, inspecting my face up and down with her eyes half- contact between souls. I tried to place on my tongue the name
closed. that my uncle had told me, the name of my father, but my
"Why are you here? You look like a normal person..." tongue was stiff and didn’t move. I realized that my vocal
suggesting that, other than visiting friends who were chords weren’t willing to pronounce that name. You could say
completing their military service, there wasn’t much of a reason that they found it awkward or uncomfortable to pronounce it.
for a normal person to visit this area. I was offended by the way My soul hesitated to pronounce it, though I had no images that
she talked, connecting my appearance and the purpose of a could be evoked by the name of my father—or perhaps it was
visit with some grand hypothesis, but I told her truthfully that due to the absence of such images. To acknowledge a father
I had come to find someone. that hadn’t existed for twenty-nine years wasn’t an easy task.
"Who?" She asked, showing interest. "I was born here, got "It was because your mother has been a complete and
married and gave birth to my children here. I’ve lived here for sufficient world for your well-being." As if my uncle had been
fifty-seven years. Fifty-seven. There’s no one here that I don’t anticipating the question, he gave me an immediate answer to
know. This place is as small as my palm. If I don’t know the my rhetorical question of how I could have been so indifferent
person, nobody does. Tell me." She stared at me intently with to the existence of my father for the twenty-nine years that I’d
wide open eyes. been alive. I didn’t know he had prepared the answer, but I
"Yeongwha Farm..." I said and she quickly interrupted. thought it was an answer I had no choice but accept. Mother
"I know Yeongwha Farm. What about Yeongwha Farm?" I never gave me the chance to feel needed. Since I was young,
asked her if she knew the farm well. "I told you I’ve lived here my mother provided me with whatever I needed the most,
for fifty-seven years. Ask me anything you want. Who’s at that when I needed it the most, and in the most suitable way. My

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 53

mother was warm, gentle and strong. She was always busy the confusion that was happening inside me, could not wait
because she had to do many things at the same time but had any longer and waved her hands impatiently to show me that
never neglected any of her work, especially in raising her son, she was giving up. I quickly swallowed the name that had been
and she never showed any signs of frailty. Mother was to me on the tip of my tongue all along. "You know, Sergeant Kim in
both a fence and a garden. In my youth, I was much happier Room 105 works there. Why don't you ask him? If you came
than any of my friends who grew up with both parents. here to look for a job, you can go with him to the farm," she
Mother never did or said anything that would remind me of said, and knocked on the door of Room 105. "Sergeant Kim,
the existence of my father, she never made me feel the need it's high noon already. Come out and have a meal. You need
for him. Even without a father, I was sufficiently provided for something to eat before you go to work!"
in order to grow into a responsible adult. Exactly why did one The door of Room 105 opened only after I had already
need a father? finished my breakfast and was walking in the garden, lost in
Immediately, I wholly understood my uncle’s response. my thoughts.
Then why do I feel so confused? I was happy with everything, He answered, "I worked last night. I can go to work a little
didn’t feel inconvenienced or dissatisfied. I didn’t only not late." A man in a black jacket came out of the room yawning.
need a father, but I felt like I didn’t have one. It didn’t matter He finished off a whole rice bowl within seconds, without once
whether he existed or not, and I wasn’t even aware of his non- looking at the inn’s new guest.
existence, so why had I suddenly become conscious of his The inn owner pointed at me and introduced me to him,
existence? How did it happen that out of nowhere I felt that explaining that I wanted to go to Yeongwha Farm. From the
I had to find my father? How am I to understand these two way he talked and from his expression, he clearly thought
contradicting emotions? The anxiety within me answered the that I was a day laborer who had come to look for a job at the
questions I asked myself. I never needed anything or had any ranch. I didn’t care as long as I wasn’t interrogated. He looked
complaints, but sometimes I felt an emptiness inside of me. up and glanced at me and said rather bluntly, "Then, come
The fence was strong but something was missing, the garden with me to the farm later." I waved my hand and said I hadn’t
inside the fence was abundant but lonely. My unfounded fear come here looking for a job. He answered, "Yeah, I thought
of the alien—or all too familiar—gaze that I had felt turning that would be strange too. You look like a tuberculosis patient
around the corner was, in fact, based on something. Although or something. Are you from Seoul?" I nodded. I was surprised
my mother provided a world that was complete and sufficient to find out that I looked like a tuberculosis patient to others,
for my well-being, it was not because I did not need a father, but that was a fleeting thought. More than that, I was a little
but that she had fulfilled her role as father very faithfully—a irritated by his condescending manner of speech. But then if he
delicate difference that I came to understand. Mother, with her had known that I was actually a tuberculosis patient, I didn’t
absolute dedication and perfectionism, had completely driven think he would have said that. I didn’t want to embarrass him
out the necessity of a father from my world. Any need for a by confessing that I actually did have tuberculosis. I smiled
father was nullified by the presence of my mother. The reason at him, pretending to agree. He looked up at me as if to ask,
my mother alone was sufficient for my being was because "What is it then?"
she fulfilled the role of both mother and father. Mother was "I’m looking for someone." As soon as I had finished
complete not only because she was my mother but also my speaking, the inn owner, who had come out of the kitchen to
father as well. Paradoxically, in the end, this had the effect of throw out the water, came out and interrupted us.
creating the need for a father. The retired professor said a father "So exactly who is it that you're looking for?"
was something that no one could deny and could not be denied Sergeant Kim also gazed at me quizzically. I tried once
under any circumstances. A father continues to exist even after more to raise the name my uncle had told me to my tongue.
his death. I could hear my heart pounding and my face became red. I
"I’m curious, young man. Is it such a secret...?" The inn shook my head slowly. "No. I just have something that I have
owner, impatient to learn my secret but not very sensitive to to find out. I don't think I need to visit Yeongwha Farm today."

54 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Avoiding their inquisitive eyes, I went back into my room, still
keenly feeling their curious gazes on the back of my head.

I admitted that I wasn’t ready. Do I have to prepare myself

for this? I thought about it and though I didn’t know how I
had to prepare, it seemed right to do so. What do I want to
accomplish by just visiting? When I thought about it, I felt
breathless, as if I’d been punched in the chest. Laughing at
my lack of planning and my impulsive behavior, I clicked
my tongue and slapped myself in the face. I left the inn and
wandered around the street, thinking and whispering to
myself; perhaps I should just leave. This was possible, of course.
It meant returning to the world of my mother's protection
and love. What my mother had built for me was a house. If
I could just turn around, I thought, going back wouldn't be
too difficult. Going back to the coziness of home—it was not
only possible, but it was also the easy thing to do. The difficult
thing was getting out of my mother’s house. Other thoughts
intervened and interrupted these thoughts. That house no
longer offered me peace, at least not the way it had before. I
had become conscious of the gaze around the corner and once
I had found out to whom it belonged, I was summoned by that
gaze, or to find that gaze. I had come out into the wilderness,
so my mother's house no longer offered me peace. I could
not go back. While walking in this city, population less than
thirty thousand, and as close as one can get to the cease-fire
line of the DMZ, I brooded over the idea of the house and the
wilderness. If the house was my mother's space, the wilderness
was the world of my father. My mother built a house, raised
a family, and cultivated the land. My mother was trapped in
responsibilities and my father was a free-spirited being. Heaven
and earth, moral obligations and practical interests, centripetal
and centrifugal force... At first, these thoughts were like
chewing gum, soft and sweet, but they soon became as tough
as rubber, to the point that I could no longer chew.

The Gaze at Broad Daylight

Lee Seung-U
Jaeum & Moeum Publishing Co.
2009, 159p, ISBN 9788957074695

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 55

About the Author
Lee Seung-U (b. 1959) made his literary debut when he won
the Korean Literature New Writer’s Award with his novella,
A Portrait of Erysichton in 1981. He is the author of the
following short story collections: The Cockroach of Gu Pyeong-
mok, Mysteries of the Labyrinth, People Do Not Even Know
What Is In Their Home, I Will Live Very Long, and Journals
From Days Past. His full-length novels are: The Shadow of
a Thorn Bush, The Reverse Side of Life, The Private Lives of
Plants, Wherever That Place Is, and The Song of Here and Now.
His essay collections are: You Have Already Begun to Write a
Novel and Living a Novel.

56 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Reviews Fiction

Consuming Disaster
Travelers of the Night Disasters are unfortunate events faced by dominated by a harsher reality. Author
Yun Ko-eun, Minumsa, 2013, 252p humanity. With disasters claiming tens Yun Ko-eun flaunts her imaginative power
ISBN 9788937473036 of thousands of lives, some regard them once more with her unique concept of
as a kind of message or sign. Disasters disaster travel packages. One difference
are also sometimes referred to as the final is that whereas her past works were an
judgment. Travelers of the Night, a novel attempt to escape from the gravity of
by Yun Ko-eun, takes this belief one step reality, Travelers of the Night is more of a
further. The book introduces characters reaffirmation of it.
who perceive disaster as a consumable The tour to the end of the world leads
good, instead of a revelation. This is the to many unforeseeable situations. Hopes
reality of a post-capitalist society, which of return are shattered and it is revealed
reduces all of nature to capital. that disaster was expected from the start.
Ko Yo-na, the protagonist, works at Yo-na was merely a part of the cast of the
a travel agency. She disguises herself as a planned disaster. At the exact moment
tourist and heads for Mui, an area that when disaster unfolds, the only emotion
will soon be kicked off the list of disaster that remains is love. Travelers of the Night
travel destinations. Having lost its appeal is an excellent portrayal of a journey
as a spectacle of disaster, Mui is attracting towards love, leaving behind the burden of
fewer and fewer travelers by the day. reality.
Interestingly, Yo-na faces a similar fate
as she is about to be fired from the travel by Kang Yu-jung
Travelers of the Night is neither an
escape from everyday life nor an exile from
reality. In fact, it is the creation of a world


Simple Fare Full of Love

style narration, reminiscent of novelist
Shin Kyung-sook's The Place Where the
Harmonium Was illustrates Kim Sum's
aesthetic virtuosity.
Noodles narrative unfolds as a monologue directed
Kim Sum, Changbi Publishers, Inc. by Chong Won Sik
2014, 372p, ISBN 9788936437282
at the stepmother:

“As I softly sprinkle some f lour on

Novelist Kim Sum, who won last year's the dough and begin flattening it with a
Daesan Literary Award, as well as the 2012 rolling pin, I feel like I am only getting
Hyundae Literary Award, has released her older and older, just like you. After your
fourth book, a short story collection titled, icy husband passed away and all of your
Noodles. The collection contains nine stepkids left much time have
stories, including the title piece, “Noodles” you spent kneading noodle dough at home
and “One Evening with Kyung-sook,” in solitude?”
which won the Hyundae Literary Award.
While Kim’s writing is known for its The first dish that the stepmother
realistic portrayal of her characters’ inner made for her stepdaughter was noodles.
turmoil under intense external pressure, The protagonist, a callow young woman
she also includes elements of fantasy in her at the time, felt that homemade noodles
narratives. This collection notably focuses were excessively simple fare, but as she
more on family relations while showcasing grows wiser with age, she eventually
her unique style. comes to understand the similarities
“Noodles” stands out for the first- between her stepmother's humble life
person narration by a female protagonist a nd her si mple no o d le d i s he s. T he
who tells the story of her stepmother who process of making and kneading dough
has been diagnosed with cancer. The story engenders the protagonist's compassion
opens with the protagonist visiting her for and understanding of her stepmother's
stepmother to make some noodles. The suffering. The stepdaughter’s monologue-

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 57


Pale Shadows of Old Love

by Kim Kwang-kyu

We met at five in the afternoon –

late in the year of the April Revolution –
clasped hands in glad greeting,
sat in a cold, unheated room,
frosted the air in heated discussion.
We were foolish enough to believe
we would live for something,
something divorced from politics.
The meeting ended without resolution. That night
Pale Shadows of Old Love
Kim Kwang-kyu, Minumsa we downed large bowls of grog in Hyehwa−dong Rotary
1995, 186p, ISBN 9788937406164
and wrestled innocently with the problems of
love, part-time jobs, and military service.
Each of us sang at the top of his lungs:
songs no one listened to,
no one imitated.
We sang without thought of profit:
our songs rose in the winter sky
and fell as shooting stars.

58 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Eighteen years later we put on ties
and gathered again. We were something now:
we were the new generation, afraid of the revolution.
A sub of 10,000 won was collected.
We inquired about wives and children,
asked each other how much we earned,
worried at the rising cost of living,
gladly deplored the state of the world,
gossiped in expertly modulated voices.
No one sang. We left a goodly amount of drink
and expensive side-dishes,
noted changed phone numbers and parted.
Some went to play poker,
some went to dance,
and some of us walked the streets of Tongsung−dong
with empty hearts.
We had come back after long wanderings,
rolled calendars tucked importantly under our arms,
back to where old love once bled.
A few unfamiliar buildings interposed suspiciously,
but the roadside plane trees were in their wonted places.
Kim Kwang-kyu (b. 1941) made his literary
The few remaining desiccated leaves debut in the quarterly Literature and Intelligence in
1975. His first book of poetry, The Last Dream to
made us bow our heads.
Affect Us, was published in 1979. Kim's published
Aren’t you ashamed, works include the following poetry collections:
No, That Isn’t So, Aniri, The First Time We Met,
aren’t you ashamed? The Soft Touch of Time, The Heart of Knack
Mountain, Waterway, Like a Small-minded Person,
The wind whispered around our ears. and Although I Have Nothing. His two volumes of
essays, Between the Real and the Assumed Voice and
Deliberately we talked middle-aged health
The Slow Steps, along with his poetry collections,
and took another step deep into the swamp. Faint Shadows of Love (English, London 1991),
The Depth of A Clam (English, New York 2005),
Die Tiefe der Muschel (German, Bielefeld 1991),
translated by Kevin O’Rourke
and Botschaften Vom Gruenen Planeten (German,
*First published in Looking for the Cow: Modern Korean Poems (Dedalus Press, GÖttingen 2010) have been published in
1999). Reprinted with permission from the author and translator. translation.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 59


Korea’s Healing Trail

You Must Be Tuckered Out
Sung Woo Je, Kang Publishing, Ltd.
2014, 452p, ISBN 9788982181870

Just as Spain has the Camino de Santiago residents, guest house owners, haenyeo
and Canada has the Bruce Trail, Korea (traditional Jeju diving women), village
is home to Jeju Olle on Jeju Island. The heads, and migrants to Jeju, revealing the
current trend of walking as exercise has hardships of their lives.
created an increase in the number of Since the opening of its first route
hikers visiting the world’s best-known in 2007, Jeju Olle has grown and now
trails. This book is a travelogue about Jeju covers a network of 425 km of walking
Olle, known among trail officials around trails, comprised of a total of 26 routes.
the world as an up-and-coming walking More than a mere tourist attraction, it is
course. a trail of pilgrimage that offers healing
Individuals left psychically for tired bodies and minds and a record
a nd emot iona l ly br u ised by tod ay’s of Jeju’s long history. Though every guide
c omp e t it ion-ba s e d s o c ie t y c ome to book about Jeju introduces the trail and
Jeju Olle to experience healing. Later, its founder, Suh Myungsook, accounts by
they return to their daily routines with travelers who have actually walked it are
a renewed sense of drive and vitality, harder to come by. That’s what makes this
claiming that the Olle Trail has “some book all the more special.
kind of strange energy.” So where does this
strange energy come from? What are the by Richard Hong
stories of the people who visit this trail and
what kind of lives do the people who live
along it lead?
Author Sung Woo Je, a journalist
by trade, listens to the stories of those
he meets on the trail during his journey,
sharing some moving tales along the way.
His writing incorporates conversations
w it h fel low tra i l wa l kers, loc a l Jeju

60 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Reviews Nonfiction

Pioneering Reporters
Prominent Female Journalists of Korea, 1920~1980 T his book conta ins t he biographie s as literary writers. Some of them were
Kim Eun-joo, Communication Books of Korea n women reporters, written later elected as government ministers or
2014, 362p, ISBN 9791130400440 by journalist Kim Eun-joo. In Korea, members of parliament.
reporters who are women are still referred Kim Eun-joo divides the lives of these
to a s “ fema le reporters,” while ma le female reporters into two main categories.
reporters are simply called “reporters,” First, as pioneers, these educated women
p er p e t u at i n g t he p erc ept ion t h at a carried out their progressive activities with
journalist is a male occupation. The use of a sense of duty and responsibility. Second,
the term “female reporter” is an indication as writers with literary aspirations, many
of the scarcit y of women work ing as of them, entered the field of journalism as
journalists in Korea. a means to publish their work.
However true this may be, the legacy
of some representative female journalists by Lee Hyun Woo
has had a lasting impact. Kim follows the
activities of nine female reporters from the
1920s to the early 1980s and outlines their
proactive engagement during each period.
The lives and activities of these women are
a reflection of modern Korean history.
As they were pioneers and patriots,
Korean female reporters were considered
“the most cutting-edge women of their
day.” These journalists were women’s
rights and social justice activists, as well


Consumer Convenience
The Sociology of Convenience Stores level, convenience stores are “a site where known as the “880,000 won generation
Jun Sang In, Minumsa structured bureaucracy has reached its eatery.” Moreover, part-time jobs at these
2014, 216p, ISBN 9788937488825
zenith and where the McDonaldification convenience stores do not even meet the
of society is exhibited intensively.” nation’s minimum wage law.
As a follow-up to Crazy About Apartments, Convenience stores are the physical
sociologist Jun Sang In studies the impact representation of modern rationa lit y by Lee Hyun Woo
of convenience stores in Korea in The and consumer capitalism. Additionally,
Sociolog y of Convenience Stores. W hy Korea’s convenient stores, riding the wave
convenience stores? According to Jun, if of globalization and open economy in the
apartments are Korea’s “national housing,” 1990s, helped to drive a new generation
then convenience stores are its “national of westernized lifestyles that dominated
stores.” Korean society. These convenience stores
If one compares the population density are evidence of how globalization has
to the number of convenience stores, Korea affected the country.
ranks the highest in the world, higher even H o w e v e r, w e c a n n o t o v e r l o o k
than the United States, the birthplace of the negative aspects of the empire of
the convenience store. Convenience stores convenience stores. W hile one of the
first began showing up in Korea in 1989 primary functions of convenience stores
and franchises were established at a rapid in Korea is to serve as an eatery, this
pace. By the end of 2012, there were over phenomenon also reveals the polarization
24,559 stores throughout the country of Korean society. Convenience stores
serving more than 8,800,000 consumers a have become a place where individuals
day. f a c e d w it h f i n a nc i a l pr oble m s c a n
What does the growth of convenience scrape together a daily meal, and the
stores say about Korean society? On a basic stores have subsequently also come to be

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 61

Reviews Nonfiction

How Movies Make Science

Hollywood Science Hollywood Science examines the by technolog y. Films like The Insider
Kim Myong-Jin, Science Books relationship between the modern human question the openness and objectivity of
2013, 238p, ISBN 9788983716330 and science and technology through an the practice of science through the eyes
analysis of how cutting-edge technology of a whistleblower, an informant perhaps
in the 20th centur y is recreated and with the public interest in his mind, whose
portrayed in television and film. actions turn his life into an impossible
The selection of 30 films consists not challenge. "The Pluto Files" elucidates
only of well-known works, such as The rea l-life d iscussions t hat took place
Matrix and The Day After Tomorrow, but among scientific insiders and among the
also animated television from author Kim general public regarding the controversy
Myong-Jin’s childhood, such as "Conan, surrounding stripping Pluto of its planet
The Boy in Future," as well as films that status.
are not as well known. One such example Currently, K im is involved in the
is The Boys from Brazil, which follows the Movement for Democracy in Science and
story of a Nazi scientist and the 94 boys he Technology. His recent interests involve
created as clones of Hitler. the reexamination of various aspects of
The films and television programs cutting-edge science and technolog y,
Kim cites raise profound questions about pa rticu la rly outer space, computers,
the status of science and technolog y and the environment, as well as bio and
in our society, as well as their social nanotechnology.
ramifications. The Conversation (1974), a
film about wiretapping, warns us of the by Kim Mansu
danger of a surveillance society controlled


Science's Impact on Our Daily Lives

Homoscience (Vols. 1 & 2) t he su n. T hroug h t hese topic s, t his
Korea Educational Broadcating System volume attempts to illustrate the changes
2013, 224p, ISBN 9788952770714 brought about by modern technological
civilization, the advent of which depended
on our understanding and mastery of these
Homoscience is a textual adaptation of topics.
the documentary Milestone of Scientific Entertaining and informative, the
Revolutions that aired on the Educational book is an inquiry into digital technology
Broadcasting System (EBS), a Korean and its impacts on our daily lives, seed
TV channel specializing in educational technology development as a possible
programming. solution to global food shortages, research
Volume 1 focuses on five topics: the into genetic mutation as a means to cure
universe, the solar system, the earth, diseases, and harnessing the sun as a
evolution, and genetic inheritance. This sustainable source of energy.
volume covers topics such as the Big Bang Since this is an adaptation of broadcast
theor y, the Hubble Space Telescope, material, the book is written in succinct,
the true nature of solar energy, the laws easy-to-understand language and includes
governing planetar y motion, and the abundant visual material. The addition of
secrets of chemical elements. little-known anecdotes from the lives of
Topics on biogenetics, such as cells various innovative scientists in these fields
and microorganisms, genetic inheritance, makes it a pleasurable read.
DNA, stem cells and cloning, and the map
of the human genome are also featured in by Kim Mansu
this volume.
Vo l u m e 2 d e a l s w i t h d i g i t a l
technolog y, new high-tech materia l,
GMO seeds, genetic mutations, a nd

62 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014


Along Comes a Lion

A feast for the senses, Moonlit Night, by
Lee Haery, offers a simple yet remarkable
story illustrated in soothing colors with
the vivid touch of pen and ink drawing.
H i g h up i n t he s k y, a m id s t t he
backdrop of a dreary high-rise apartment
building in a woodsy area, there is a full
moon. A little child, not yet asleep, is
looking at the moon outside the window.
The moon grows bigger and bigger and
then, out of nowhere, the round face of a
lion appears. The lion, with a flying mane
and large round eyes, turns his head in the
direction of the child. But the child is not
startled. Instead, he jumps on the back
of the lion and calls out to all the other
children in the apartment complex.
Moonlit Night “Hey guys, come out! Let’s play!”
Lee Haery, Borim Press The children, come out one by one,
2013, 40p, ISBN 9788943309732
shake their heads, stomp their feet, jump
Author up and down, roll on the ground, do a

64 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

shoulder dance, and play to their heart’s in which people put on lion masks on work, Lee Haery provides the reader with
content with the lion. They sing, “Let’s the day of the first full moon of the lunar a vivid portrayal of the entrancing dance.
race to the sky! Let’s run through the year. It was believed that the lion had The stillness of the deep and delicate
moonlight! Let’s race to the sky!” the power to conquer evil by casting out night, the luminescence and warmth of
But before he knows it, the children demonic spirits, thereby bringing peace to the moonlight, the lion with its full mane,
who ran to the end of sky and raced the village. In every village, people wore the children full of mischief, the raucous
through the moonlight, go back home, lion masks and danced to the music of the and exhilarating dance, and the quiet after
riding along the wind. Where did the lion kkwaenggwari (small gong) or a bamboo play all complement each other. The vivid
go? Only the bright moon can be seen in flute; then children were put on the lion’s expressions of the lion and the children
the woodsy area by the apartment. back to grant them longevity and the and the unique characters add to the
The round lion that appeared out of villagers in lion masks prayed for fortune liveliness of the work.
nowhere and the children’s thrilling play for each household.
provide a powerful catharsis for readers. Above a ny thing else, the Korea n by Yoon So-hee
The message is clear. Children must play, Lion Mask Dance is characterized by its
as must adults. animated and powerful movements. It is
As a matter of fact, contemporary a beautiful Korean custom in which the
u rba n l i fe i s f i l le d w it h s t re s s a nd villagers gather together and dance with
desolation and if not for “play,” catharsis a vivacious spirit and a joyous heart to
cannot be achieved. Here, the author welcome in the New Year under the bright
surprisingly offers the Korean Lion Mask full moon.
Dance, a traditional Korean folk ritual With her multi-layered, subtle pen

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 65

Reviews Children's Books

Pets Have Feelings, Too

A Girl and Her Dog Called Cloud A nyone who ever owned a puppy vivid look into the puppy’s mind.
Jeong Ho-seon, Changbi Publishers, Inc. understands just how charming, lovely, The author’s message is that keeping
2013, 50p, ISBN 9788936454456 and prone to loneliness puppies are. A a pet is all about communication. By
Girl and Her Dog Called Cloud is a picture show ing t he puppy being sent away
book that portrays how a little white from the girl in this book, the author
puppy called Cloud meets a young girl, emphasizes the attention, care, sacrifice,
whom it loves like its own big sister, but and responsibility we must have for our
must eventually part ways. pets.
T he g irl a nd her puppy a re be st
buddies. They share a fondness for a by Yoon So-hee
particular stuffed teddy bear and they are
always playing together, hugging, kissing,
and complimenting each other. The puppy
doesn’t like it when it is left alone at home.
One day, when it is dark and noisy outside,
the puppy is all by itself. Scared and lonely,
Cloud barks loudly and makes a mess of
the house, which upsets the girl’s mother
and her neighbors. The puppy ends up
being sent away to a house with a yard,
and the girl weeps as she says goodbye to
the puppy.
This book describes Cloud's wide array
of facial expressions and actions with such
minute details that they give the reader a


Don’t Mess with Nature

Big Fish the other side of a solid fence. When Big
Lee Gihoon, BIR Publishing Co., Ltd.
2014, 50p, ISBN 9788949101736
Fish begins to spurt water, the people hold
a celebration. But the water doesn’t stop,
and a flood engulfs the village. Everyone
You see a big fish that’s truly massive. disappears underwater as the animals that
It looks hundreds of times bigger than have taken refuge in the gigantic ship
a human. But this huge fish is captured watch on.
tightly in nets and ropes. You wonder, This incredible tale unfolds like a film.
“What in the world is going on?” Reality merges with fantasy and motifs
Big Fish is an eye-catching picture from mythology and fiction, such as the
book that elicits curiosity and wonder. tale of Noah’s Ark and The Old Man and
The story, in the form of a graphic novel, the Sea, intermingle. The story conveys
unfolds without a word. It takes place in how many different sides there are to
what seems to be a village in Africa long humanity. The human imagination is
ago. Amid a prolonged drought, a number infinite and the fighting spirit great, but
of brave warriors set out on their way. greed is catastrophic.
They’re going on a hunt for the mythical With Big Fish, author Lee Gihoon
Big Fish that sends down water from the seems to be raising the alarm on the
sky. On their way, they run into a man human ambition to conquer and control
building a gigantic ship. The warriors nature. The varied illustrations, with
laugh at him, pointing at the blazing sun. elaborate detail and compositions, convey
At last, they find Big Fish, catch it the author’s message in a visually dramatic
after a desperate struggle, and carry it way.
home. Animals come after them in search
of water, but the people drive them out to by Kim Inae Sujung

66 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Reviews Children's Books

Where Cats Learn Magic

Cat School: The Secret of Angkor Wat Cat School is a fantasy series based on Cats learn the magic of the “Soul of
Kim Jin-kyung; Illustrator: Kim Jae-hong the myths of East Asia. The series was Crystal,” which can make them one with
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. completed in 2007 with the publication God, in order to fight against the Shadow
2013, 144p, ISBN 9788954623582
of Volume 11. In 2006, the series won “Le Cats who aim to break the coexistence
Prix des Incorruptible,” an award voted on between Hinduism and Buddhism, as well
by children in France, proving its value in as the harmonious relationship between
the genre of children’s world literature. humans and nature. At the end of this
When cats reach the age of 15, they fantasy, the author’s message reveals that
leave the human world to enter Cat School human civilization can be sustained only
to learn their history and magic. Once through reconciliation and tolerance.
they acquire this knowledge and the ability Author Kim Jin-kyung is currently
to perform magic, they become Crystal on the short list to become a recipient of
Cats to fight the Shadow Cats, a group of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards.
wicked cats, in order to protect the human Fantastic illustration provided by Kim Jae-
world. This fantasy adventure is the main hong, who won the Espace Enfants Prize
plot of the series. of Switzerland and the BIB (Biennial of
Cat School (World Series), the prequel Illustration Bratislava) Children’s Jury
to the completed Cat School series, is set in Award.
Angkor Wat during the early 13th century
when Suryavarman VII ruled the Khmer by Yu Youngjin
Empire (present-day Cambodia).
In the time leading up to the
coronation of the k ing, the conf lict
bet ween religion and royal authorit y
becomes tenser than ever. The Crystal


More than a Vessel

Singing Bottle
able to make different sounds, depending
Ahn Eun-young, Sakyejul Publishing Ltd.
2013, 24p, ISBN 9788958286929 on the amount of the liquid it holds. As
a result, it becomes an instrument that
creates sounds, rather than a vessel that
There is a bottle. Depending on what it holds something.
holds, it can be a juice bottle, an empty The f irst-person narration by the
bottle, or even a bottle for pee. When it bottle itself makes it easier to understand
fills up with rain, it becomes a water bottle it s circ u m st a nc e s. W hene ver a ne w
and when the rain dries up, it goes back to situation develops, a sound appears first
being an empty bottle. Is an empty bottle to engage young readers. The story and
no longer useful? Just at that moment, the illustrations correspond well with each
you hear a voice exclaim, “I found it! It’s other and a solid plot helps young readers
perfect!” The empty bottle is filled with a understand and enjoy the story.
certain amount of liquid and is turned into
a “singing bottle,” which makes beautiful by Eom Hye-suk
Singing Bottle by A hn Eun-young
tells the story of how a bottle is defined
depending on what it contains. If the story
stopped there, the book would simply be
another educational children’s picture
book. However, the last scene shows that
although liquid may be put into the empty
bottle, the characteristics of the bottle itself
are not defined by that liquid, but by being

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 67

New Books
© The Happy School, Kim Joong-suk, Barambooks

Recommended If You Have Time, Brother Kevin

by Publishers
Love Me a Little Kim Su-yeon
Munhakdongne Publishing Group
Hong Hee-jeong
2013, 196p, ISBN 9788954622547
Munhakdongne Publishing Group
2013, 168p, ISBN 9788954622554 Brother Kevin is about children who
If You Have Time, Love Me A Little won the have to sacrifice their present life for
Korean editors have handpicked their favorite titles 18th Munhakdongne Publishing Company the security of their future through the
Literary Award, paving the way for new arduous days spent at cram schools.
from their own publishing houses. The following list possibilities in Korean fiction. This is a Thrown into vicious competition, these
contains hidden gems in Korea’s publishing industry. novel about the bittersweet coming of age elementary school-aged children are
preparing to enter elite high schools.
of today’s youth. The book is a portrayal
For further information, please contact the agents of adolescent boys and girls who live life The book shows how the age that
students must compete and one-up
directly. at their own pace, in an age when it has
each other continues to get younger
become too difficult to live in the manner
that suits one’s instincts. and younger, with nothing to protect
them in Korean society.
Copyright Agent: Kate Han Copyright Agent: Kate Han
82-31-955-2635 82-31-955-2635

Poetry Children’s Books

Eternal Moonlight: I Put the Evening Inside the The World Wrapped Up Face Country
Sin Saimdang Drawer in a Piece of Cloth Lee Min Hui; Illustrator: Park Mi Jeong
Gesunamu Publishing House
Ahn Young, Wis & Vis Han Kang, Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd. Heo Dong-hwa; Illustrator: Kim Mi-yong
2013, 50p, ISBN 9788989654902
2013, 384, ISBN 9788992825733 2013, 165p, ISBN 9788932024639 Marubol Publications
2013, 40p, ISBN 9788956634562 Beautifully illustrated, the queen of
Sin Saimdang (1504~1551) is regarded This is the first volume of poetry
A piece of cloth doesn't have a fixed shape “Face Country” metaphorically plays
as the embodiment of the “wise mother, published by novelist Han Kang, who
like a bag. So with a piece of cloth you out national affairs through through
good wife” in Korea. This book offers a has eloquently written on the pathos
can wrap something of any shape or size, face washing and applying makeup.
depiction of her life as, in the words of and the loneliness in life, as well as the
square or round, big or small. By looking Bringing fresh characters to life, Lee
the author, “a progressive woman born truth and emotions that one encounters
at traditional wrapping cloths, we can see presents the Queen's subjects who
500 years ahead of her time.” at the boundary between life and death.
that our ancestors understood the spirit of come alive to research and closely
Copyright Agent: Ha Seung Jin I Put the Evening Inside the Drawer is a
harmony and fitting together. examine old literature and documents compilation of 60 poems, some of which
on cosmetics and face washing tools.
82-2-324-5677 have been previously published. Copyright Agent: Kim Min-sun Copyright Agent: Shin Saehyung
Copyright Agent: Moon Jeongmin
82-2-790-4150 (Ext.503) 82-2-566-6288
82-2-338-7224 (int. 7129)

68 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Lady Fortune The Wish of the Giant Rock Poo-poo Poo-poo Only a Stupid Princess
Seo Jung-oh; Illustrator: Han Tae-hee
Bombom Publishing Co.
Kim Chun-ok; Illustrator: Kim Tae-hyun
Bombom Publishing Co.
Cheon Mi-jin; Illustrator: Seo Yoo-noh
KIZM Education Group
Would Sleep All Day
Lee Gyeong-hye; Illustrator: Park Ah Reum
2012, 32p, ISBN 9788991742406 2012, 40p, ISBN 9788991742413 2013, 22p, ISBN 9788967491239
Barambooks, 2008, 139p
Lady Fortune is a strong and courageous Hearing the news that 11,000 handsome This is a picture book to help toddlers with ISBN 9788990878694
girl who throws away a comfortable rocks are to gather to form a peak in Mt. the ins and outs of potty training. Through A long time ago when the writer was
future and takes control of her own fate. Geumgang, Ulsan Rock leaves its home fun descriptions of how various animals do reading stories to her children, she
As the spirit governing over life, the story in Ulsan and heads north. The rocks must a poo, the book shows toddlers the proper changed the parts that seemed unfair or
of Lady Fortune is based on the shaman arrive before the azaleas bloom, but will way to use the toilet. dissatisfying or sad as she saw fit, and the
song "Samgongbonpuri," passed down Ulsan Rock make it in time? This story Copyright Agent: Jeong Eun-mee resulting stories reflected the bias-free
through generations on Jeju Island. recounts the fun legend of how Ulsan viewpoint of children. This book takes
Copyright Agent: Heo Sun-young Rock and the town of Sokcho had their 82-2-3445-6400
famous stories we all know and gives
names intertwined. them a new twist and sense of fun.
Copyright Agent: Heo Sun-young Copyright Agent: Lee Min Young
82-2-2215-4468 82-2-3142-0495

The Happy School The Ginger Flower A Greedy Man and a Silver Pig School Science Series
Lee Gyeong-hye; Illustrator: Kim Joong-suk
Barambooks, 2012, 34p
Kim You Jeong; Illustrator: Kim Se-hyun
Mirae N Co., Ltd., 2013, 44p
Gourd (5 vols.)
Lim Jeong Ja; Illustrator: Lee Kwang Ick Baek Myung Sik
ISBN 9788994475288 ISBN 9788937885624
Mirae N Co., Ltd., 2013, 40p The Book In My Life Publishing Co., Ltd.
This is the story of a pretty school in This picture book for elementary school ISBN 9788937885679 2013, 48p, ISBN 9788997980666
a small village. One day, due to the students is based on the short story of the One day a greedy merchant chances This series is an easy, fun, and quick
construction of a dam the little village same name written by Kim You Jeong across a silver gourd of goblin treasure. reading set of science books for children.
is flooded. All the children and all the in 1936. Set in a poor mountain village, When night falls, the head of the goblins The books are organized around the
villagers have to leave and so the pretty it tells the story of first love between a comes to find the merchant and asks him four sections of the elementary science
school is deserted and alone. The pretty precocious girl and a naive boy. Readers to return the gourd. Instead, the greedy curriculum: biology, earth and space,
school is lonely and sad until one day will be delighted by the rural dialect, the man demands that he build him a palace. materials, and movement and energy.
some people return. How did the pretty unexpected way the story unfolds, and the As the greedy man becomes ever greedier, Through the various adventures of a pig
school become happy again? realistic picture of the era. will the head of the goblins keep granting trio, young readers not only learn about
Copyright Agent: Lee Min Young Copyright Agent: Park Jiyoung his wishes? science but also start to develop their sense of curiosity.
82-2-3142-0495 82-2-3475-3870 Copyright Agent: Park Jiyoung Copyright Agent: Lee Da Gyeom
82-2-3475-3870 82-70-7813-2024

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 69

Children’s Books

Eat Nature! Series (4 vols.) Twelve-Year-Old Mona Lisa The Child That Tears Paper Ghost Bakery Math
Oh Jin-hee; Illustrator: Baek Myung-sik Lim Jihyeong; Illustrator: Jung Jinhui Park Seongcheol; Illustrator: Kim Eunyeong Kim Sunhee; Illustrator: Lee Nam Ji
TheBookInMyLife Publishing Co., Ltd. IANDBOOK, 2013, 184p IANDBOOK, 2013, 136p Sallim, 2013, 172p
2013, 96-112p, ISBN 9788997980369 ISBN 9788997430598 ISBN 9788997430758 ISBN 9788952227591

This is a textbook on healthy eating Yulee is teased by her older sister and her Gangsan is uncomfortable around his This is a fun book for learning decimals
for children that shows us the gifts that friends because she is chubby, so she starts classroom partner Yulee, who has autism. and fractions. The only bakery in a
nature gives us to eat each season. While to hate the way she looks. After a coach However, after seeing a video about ghost town is hiring an assistant. All the
encouraging readers to think about what tells her that Korean wrestling can make Siamese twins and hearing a confession ghosts in the town gather for the exam to
is necessary to ensure they can continue you lose weight, she joins the wrestling from his teacher, he realizes that the way appoint just one assistant. Only four of
eating healthy foods from nature, the club. But although she becomes a skilled he viewed differences was wrong. He them complete the first round of fraction
book also leads readers to discover the wrestler, she is disappointed because she begins to understand Yulee, and in the and decimal challenges on the numbers
varied tastes of nature made by soil, water, doesn't lose any weight. Will Yulee be end, the two become genuine friends. of different breads and the mixing of
sunshine, and wind. able to shake off her complex about being Copyright Agent: Woo Ansuk ingredients. Who will become the baker’s
Copyright Agent: Lee Da Gyeom chubby and gain confidence in front of assistant? her friends? 82-2-2248-1555
Copyright Agent: Bae Joo Young
Copyright Agent: Woo Ansuk 82-31-955-1367

We Can Order a Family The Patchwork Kid Finding Summer The Red Bird
For You! Lee Gaeul; Illustrator: Shin Sejung
Hollym Corporation
Lee Gaeul; Illustrator: Heo Gu
Hollym Corporation
Yi Jin-young
Moonji Publishing Co., Ltd.
Han Young Mi; Illustrator: Kim Dajung 2014, 32p, ISBN 9788932025285
2013, 52p, ISBN 9788970946894 2013, 96p, ISBN 9788970946719
Sallim Publishing Co., Ltd.
2014, 172p, ISBN 9788952228239 There was a little girl whose clothes were Summer the street cat and Kay the house This is the story of a little bird that
so worn out and full of patches that cat swap coats and come and go freely befriends a lonely child who is being
A child wonders, “Can a Mom and Dad
people called her the “patchwork kid.” between the house and the outdoors. ignored at school. The little bird,
that make me study all the time really be
Although she was poor, she had a kind As they become friends, Summer, who alienated by all the other birds for being
my real parents?” The book encourages
heart and learned to sew by looking over was in Kay's house after swapping coats, too red, realizes that he is not useless after
parents to reflect on their attitudes and
the shoulders of seamstresses as she did suddenly disappears without a trace. The all because he can comfort someone. The
shows children the true reasoning behind
odd jobs. With beautiful prose and lovely story gives us a chance to understand how beauty of the story is augmented by lyrical
their parents nagging. The author, a
illustrations, the book shows readers cruel it is to think of living creatures as illustrations that reveal the inner feelings
mother of two who has won numerous
how thrifty our ancestors were, joining mere possessions. of the bird and the child.
awards, wrote the story from a child’s
point of view, creating a book that parents together seemingly useless materials to Copyright Agent: Park Mina Copyright Agent: Moon Jeongmin
and children can read and enjoy together. make the things they needed.
82-2-735-7553 82-2-338-7224 (int. 7129)
Copyright Agent: Yoon Kyungran
Copyright Agent: Bae Joo Young

70 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014


Time Capsule 1985 Children of the Letters from Joseon: 19th Millennium Dish
Hong Myung Jin
Sakyejul Publishing, 2014, 248p
Yeongsan River Century Korea Through O Han Saem, Choi Eu Gene and Yang Bung Geul
MID,2012, 368p, ISBN 9788996612261
ISBN 9788958287124
Oh Younghae; Illustrator: Choi Shinoh
Gobooky Books Co., Ltd.
the Eyes of an American This book offers an overview of Korean
This is a book about the people who 2011, 105p, ISBN 9788992479998 Ambassador's Wife cuisine, representing one important facet
made Haebangchon (“Liberation Robert Neff, Seoul Selection of Korea’s 5,000-year history. Educational
This collection of verse by poet Oh 2012, 431p, ISBN 9788997639090
Village”) their home the year the time Younghae has been made anew as a TV channel EBS set up a three-minute
capsule was buried in the outskirts of picture book full of the scenery of the During a span of time that encompasses program as part of a campaign to
Namsan Mountain in Seoul. In the four seasons and the happy memories the Sino-Japanese War, the murder of the rediscover Korean history, and the book
backdrop of a specific time and space, of hometown life. The book introduces Korean queen, and King Gojong's refuge is a compilation of the moving visuals
Haebangchon in the year 1985, the book children to the ways kids played long in the Russian legation, John Mahelm and texts aired by EBS. Readers can get
tells the story of the ordinary people who ago while parents will feel the warmth Berry Sill served as the American Minister practical information about health and
lived in the neighborhood during that and beauty of nostalgia for their old to Korea (1894-1897). The personal Korean cooking, as well as gain a sense of
period. hometowns. letters between the Sills and their family Korea's beauty and history.
Copyright Agent: Kang Hyunjoo in the U.S. provide a view of Korea during Copyright Agent: Choi Jonghyun
Copyright Agent: Yang Minjae some of its most unsettling years.
82-31-955-8600 82-10-9279-3448
82-32-323-8895 Copyright Agent: Park Shin-hyung

Five-Color Eating Regimen Zo Sun-hi’s Inspiration Kang Shin-joo’s Lessons The Machine Interpreting
Hong Young Jae, MID
2013, 496p, ISBN 9791185104041
Zo Sun-hi, Minumin
2013, 300p, ISBN 9788960173330
on Emotions Things
Kang Shin-joo, Minumsa Ban Ejung, Semicolon
Utilizing five different colors, this book Top-notch professional photographer Zo 2013, 528p, ISBN 9788937488351 2013, 276p, ISBN 9788983716347
introduces a map of food products that Sun-hi suggests ideas that can help readers This book features 48 human emotions Ban Ejung, an art critic and influential
can help boost one’s health. Healthy restore their sensibilities and creativity. In as explained by Spinoza, 48 literary blogger, describes 100 everyday objects
foods that contain a high level of this book, Zo gathers her inspiring photos, masterpieces, 48 pieces of advice by the and phenomena presented together
phytochemicals are presented together intimate musings, and one-liners that philosopher, and 45 famous paintings. with related images, in only 500-600
with their color groups. Food items that help open the door for generating long- Readers can embark on a journey into words each. The book is likely to come
function as health food are classified lost creativity and transform mundane their own minds together with Spinoza, off as a dictionary of ordinary objects
based on different categories such as the everyday images into creative works. the “ethicist of emotion.” In a bid to that reflects the author’s perspective
intensity of color, availability, pressure Copyright Agent: Michelle Nam present the philosopher’s complex and writing style. His trademark witty
on the body, and price. The author, who message, the author borrows episodes writings revisit ordinary objects with
was diagnosed with two cancers by the 82-2-515-2000 (Ext. 295)
from writers who were well-known for fresh eyes and a rare precision.
age of 58, successfully fought the diseases interpreting human minds. Copyright Agent: Michelle Nam
through dietary treatment.
Copyright Agent: Michelle Nam
Copyright Agent: Choi Jonghyun 82-2-515-2000 (Ext. 295) 82-2-515-2000 (Ext. 295)

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 71


In a Fit of Emotion Uljiro Circle Line The Awakening The War with Memory:
Lee Jang-mee
Laughing Girl Publishers
Choi Hochul
Gobooky Books Co., Ltd.
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim
Jungto Publishing House
Pursuing the Truth about the
2013, 232p, ISBN 9788958781615 2008, 176p, ISBN 9788992479219 2012, 197p, ISBN 9788985961691 Korean War and Massacre
Kim Dong Choon
This book is a collection of photo essays This book is the first collection of work This book delivers the fundamental
Sakyejul Publishing
by painter Lee Jang-mee. A collection by Choi Hochul, who records stories lesson: anyone can enjoy a life of 2013, 480p, ISBN 9788958286806
of drawing diaries that she created for with pictures. In the distinctive “modern freedom and happiness, no matter where
her blog over the past 10 years, the genre painting” style, these illustrations, they are. One of the memorable passages This book chronicles a number of
book sheds light on the small things in which cross the boundaries of animation in the book is: “Happiness is always in unresolved cases involving imperialistic
everyday life, which are captured through and conversation, will be deeply moving ourselves as the warm sunlight comes suppression, the Korean War, and
the author’s ideas and feelings. for young readers. Within its pages, the down upon us in the springtime, but democratization in the aftermath of the
stories of different lives unfold like a people complain that the world is dark military dictatorship. It is the sequel to
Copyright Agent: Jeon Jeongsook
panorama, conveying a sense of wonder. and cold, while closing their eyes or Kim’s The Unending Korean War: A Social
82-10-5221-6422 standing in the shade. Once you open up History. The book explains the efforts
Copyright Agent: Yang Minjae
your eyes, the world is bright.” that have been made to deal with the
82-32-323-8895 past, as well as key issues and tasks, both
Copyright Agent: Park Jia theoretical and practical.
82-10-7437-3785 Copyright Agent: Kang Hyunjoo

It’s Okay to Live Differently The 100 Jewish Celebrities Why Can’t I Control Emotion Therapy: Self-therapy
from Others Park Jae Sun; Illustrator: Kim Jeong Hun
My Emotions? to Be Free from Inner Emotional
Medicimedia, 2013, 562p
Yoo Jong Pil; Illustrator: yosaru ISBN 9788994612843 Lee Ji-young Problems
Medicimedia, 2013, 264p Chungrim Publishing Co., Ltd. Park Young-chul
ISBN 9788994612744 Park Jae Sun, a former South Koran 2014, 283p, ISBN 9788935209958 Chungrim Publishing Co., Ltd.
Yoo Jong Pil, proposes a set of ways to ambassador, analyzes 100 Jewish Offering ways to control emotions for 2012, 292p, ISBN 9788992355919

lead one’s life differently from others. people in diverse sectors, ranging from those who have relationship problems, Touting a message of “self therapy,” the
Yoo’s own life’s path has taken him from Nostradamus to Monica Lewinsky, Lee Ji-young, lays out a four-step author proposes practical techniques to
working for a large Korean conglomerate and offers his ideas and potential take- solution to stabilizing emotions. She take control of one’s emotions, targeting
to dabbling as a puppet show script writer home messages. He tackles three main explains useful techniques to pull back those who are likely to get hurt easily
to founding The Hankyoreh newspaper. questions: Who are Jewish people? Are from fiery emotions, such as activities in connection with work, relationships,
The author argues that the endeavor to they special? What can we learn from designed to change one’s mood, as and family. The first step to taming one’s
live differently from others often leads Jewish people? well as other skills on how to express emotions is to understand the subconscious
to moments that are far removed from Copyright Agent: Kang Weon Kug uncomfortable emotions to others factors that control our minds, and our
society’s yardstick of success. without hurting others’ feelings. repetitive emotional patterns.
Copyright Agent: Song Duna Copyright Agent: Juana Woo Copyright Agent: Juana Woo
82-70-7834-9695 82-2-546-4341 82-2-546-4341

72 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Overseas Angle

Conveying Cultural Nuance

in the Chinese Translation of
Gwanchon Essays

Lee Mun Ku’s Gwanchon Essays, a serialized novel published themselves, “Are we not also experiencing a similar sadness
between 1972 and 1977, is the story of a hometown that now?”
lives on in the memory of the protagonist. The hometown Since the Chinese economic reforms that began in earnest
exists only in the main character’s memory; in reality, it has in the early 1980s, industrialization has steadily intensified
completely changed. Through the author’s memories, the and brought about dramatic changes to Chinese society. In
reader can understand the scars of the Korean War, the abuses particular, the New Rural Reconstruction Movement, which
of industrialization, the collapse of traditional society, how has been a topic of discussion since the late 1990s, has changed
relationships change over time, and the loss of hometown. China’s rural society, similar to the way the New Community
The Chinese version of this novel was published in Movement changed rural communities in Korea. Though
November 2012 by the People’s Literature Publishing House in such changes are now part of the past for Koreans, they are
China and began to attract Chinese readers’ attention. When I just beginning for the Chinese. A newspaper article reported
was translating this novel, I spent a lot of time deciding how to that Chinese people made about three billion trips during the
translate its content and form. As a result, I focused on two key 40 days before and after Lunar New Year’s Day, which shows
points. The first key point was the “individual’s experience.” just how much affection they still have for their hometowns.
The serial novels written by other authors such as Choi In-hoon, Literature about finding one’s roots and nativist literature,
Suh Ki-Won, and Yun Heunggil are similar in that most of which were popular in the 1980s, also represent the tenacious
them reflect on the essence of life, profound human suffering, Chinese attachment to tradition.
and other social mechanisms. How will Chinese people understand and respond to the
W hile reading Gwanchon Essays, I could sympathize themes of the collapse of traditional rural society, the loss of a
deeply with the concerns of Korean intellectuals and wondered spiritual home, lamentations on changes in human relationships,
how Chinese readers would understand and respond to such and the sadness regarding such social changes? I am reminded
concerns and specifically Korean sentiments. The narrator of of a review of Lee’s book that stated, “No matter what kind of
this story returns to his hometown Gwanchon after being away terrifying skills and techniques we employ to live a wonderful
for 20 years. Feeling the profound loss of home, he portrays the life, I have a sense that the substance of our life doesn’t differ
fall of rural society and the collapse of traditional society, that much at the end of the day.” Though industrialization cannot
is, the feeling of community that Koreans used to share. Painful be and does not need to be stopped, critical reflections about the
memories of the war and personal thoughts on the subsequent effects of industrialization by intellectuals may very well be the
social changes are the central themes of the novel. voice of reason that those facing the realities of industrialization
Chinese readers have responded to the book by asking are waiting for. It seems that this book is popular with Chinese

74 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

"It seems that this book is popular
with Chinese readers because...they can
imagine their own future and empathize
with the happiness and sadness felt by
Koreans during such social changes."

李文求, 人民文学出版社
(People’s Literature Publishing House)
2012, 281p, ISBN 9787020094882

readers because by using Korean literature and history as a translation.

mirror, they can imagine their own future and empathize with I think in translation, the best method is to attempt to
the happiness and sadness felt by Koreans during such social convey a similar effect, rather than a similar word or a direct
changes. translation, to offer some room for the readers of a translated
The second key point was the “taste of Korea.” Since the version to imagine, and to break down the barrier of language.
book is essay-like in form, Lee Mun Ku employs a somewhat This was my desire for the translation of this novel.
loose and simple inner monologue style of writing, a dialect
distinct to the South Chungcheong Province, and Korean by Jin Hezhe
sensibilities in his characters. Above all, the author’s beautiful
use of the Korean language, using words that transcend the
realm of language and thought, leaves a lasting impression.
How, then, could I maintain this taste of Korea, one that
is full of local color? How could I translate it so that Chinese
readers would be able to enjoy and understand it properly?
When I first read the book, my concerns as a translator were
enormous. Written Chinese characters and some references to
texts, including Confucian texts, would undoubtedly be familiar
to Chinese people. The Thousand Character Classic taught by
Grandfather in the first story, “Sunset on West Mountain,”
and the titles of the other stories show the author’s profound
knowledge in Classical Chinese. While Chinese readers would
easily be able to understand these parts without much difficulty,
vocabulary that is unfamiliar even to Koreans, or dialect and
puns that readers accustomed to city life would find hard to Jin Hezhe is a professor in the
understand, created a communication obstacle. As I felt a great Department of Korean Language at the
responsibility as the translator to overcome such obstacles and Harbin Institute of Technology. He has
facilitate readers’ understanding, I attempted to find the words published Your Paradise, Pale Shadows
of Old Love, Anthology of Modern Korean
and expressions that produced similar effects to Chinese readers.
Fiction, and Ichido, the Fugitive.
This was the hardest and the most challenging part of the

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 75

This is where I reveal my bias. I work for Comma Press
which is, to date, the most prolific publisher of short stories in
the U.K. We are also unique in that around 40 percent of our
output is fiction in translation. Once branded as committing
“double commercial suicide” for championing two of the
hardest categories to sell in the U.K. market, (short fiction and
translated fiction), we’re no stranger to writing that diverges
from mainstream expectations. I admit, I flew to Seoul already
resigned to the preconceived notion that I would not find what I
had come looking for; I was so pleased when I only had to glance
at the material provided by the British Council to see the words
“short story collection” under nearly every Korean author’s profile,
not even shyly tucked away at the bottom of the paragraph but
sometimes printed proudly on the first couple of lines. Changbi,
Jaeum & Moeum, Moonji, Munhakdongne, and Minumsa are
the leading publishers of the form, their lists brimming with short
story collections that deal with everything from everyday human
experiences (love and relationships, abandonment and loss) right
up to the downright bizarre (virtual realities, household objects
that are reincarnations of the deceased, self-aware computer
Another remarkable point about the industry in Korea is the
active support and opportunity available to new writers, notably
Munhakdongne’s Anthology of Award-winning Young Authors,
which showcases works by those who have had their literary
debut but who have not been exposed to the public for very long.
There is even plenty of help on hand for those who have yet to be
published, like the annual writing prizes run by major newspapers
and the “Rookie Awards” held by Korean publishers through their
literary magazines, both which seek to find the next best debut
author. However, I learned that surviving as a new writer in Korea
is tough, and a young author must be truly outstanding to beat
off the competition and enjoy a continuing career.
Fortunately for them (and for us abroad) there is list: Books
from Korea, a quarterly magazine published by LTI Korea which
introduces Korean books to international publishers. Complete
with book reviews, special features and interviews, it’s an excellent
place to start if, like me, you’re a total novice when it comes to
Korean literature. For example, if I hadn’t been given a copy of
list, I would never have read Cheon Un-yeong’s knockout story
“Ginger,” a compelling piece of writing which manages to weave
poetry out of a horrific torture scene. A small tip: if you’re ever in
Seoul, the LTI Korea’s library, which houses collections of Korean
books published in a multitude of different languages, is well Katie Slade graduated from Manchester
worth a visit. Metropolitan University in 2013 with an MA in Creative
Seoul has so much to offer from its hip and quirky cafes, its Writing. She initially worked as an international rights
and sales manager at Comma Press, a U.K. independent
wonderful culture-rich markets, its diverse nightlife, and more,
publishing house that specializes in the short story and
but look a little further and you’ll uncover a city that cherishes translated fiction. She recently moved to the editorial
and respects the books it creates by making literature as much a department, where she has just finished working on
part of the community as its citizens. Hopefully the rest of us will her first major commissioned project, The Book of Rio,
soon follow suit. an anthology of 10 short stories set in Rio de Janeiro,
translated from Portuguese, which will be released in
May 2014. She is now one of the two translation editors
by Katie Slade
at Comma and resides in Manchester City.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 77

Overseas Angle

The Transcultural Bridge

Between Korea and Spanish
Speaking Countries
Translation of culture and literature is the most essential medium of sharing knowledge.
Translated Korean books convey millennia of accumulated culture to Spanish language
readers. Unfortunately, far more Spanish literature, culture, and art are introduced in
Korea than the other way around. Considering that only about 100 Korean literary
works have been translated into Spanish, it is clear that not enough has been done to give
Korea’s longstanding literary tradition its due attention. Spanish readers learn about the
achievements of Korean literature and the fundamental values of Korean authors through
the translation of literature that deals with topics such as: colonialism, war, reconstruction,
economic development, authoritarianism, democratization, rapid urbanization, and all
the accompanying social problems. In addition, the feminine perspective on a rapidly
changing Korean society and its realities is provided by Korean female authors, who are so
influential in contemporary Korean literary circles.
LTI Korea promotes Korean literature translation by supporting translators, publishers,
and Korean Cultural Centers in Spain and Latin America. Cultivating young translators
as they study the Korean language, culture, and literature opens the flow of culture. LTI
Korea continues to support professional Korean and Spanish translators.
Universities, language schools, and Korea Cultural Centers in cities throughout
Spain and Latin America play a critical role in promoting Korean literature. The four
major institutions in Spain are the University of Málaga, the Autonomous University of
Barcelona, the Complutense University of Madrid, and the University of Salamanca.
The University of Málaga’s three-year old Overseas Residency Program for Korean
Writers is the most successful. The university was fortunate enough to host the excellent
authors Eun Heekyung, Lim Chulwoo, and Cheon Un-yeong. Author visits, cultural
events, and publications contribute greatly to boosting the interest in contemporary
Korean literature in Málaga, providing locals with an invaluable opportunity to read
Korean authors and understand their backgrounds.
Translation entails a number of challenges. Most books that translators encounter
are written for Koreans, with the assumption that all readers have a shared knowledge of
history and cultural background. This is unfair for non-Korean readers. Spanish speakers
have little to no background in Korean culture and philosophy, so translators need to fill
in the holes without damaging the original intent of the author. Translation must excite
readers, not diminish their interests with overly complex renditions. It is important to
remain faithful to the original, while also making the work relatable to the audience.
How can we foster the future of Korean literature in Spanish? Young Spanish people
are fascinated by Korean pop culture, so it is imperative to ride this trend and promote
Korean literature to the younger generation. Many young Spanish speakers who were
introduced to Korean culture through TV, film, music, and cartoons are specializing in

78 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

Asian and Korean studies in college. The first step to connecting front of us, but if we set aside anxiety and proceed patiently, we
with readers is through Korea’s unique stories and novels, which can topple the barriers that centuries of conflict and ignorance
target young adults and children. Animating classic literature and have put between us.
history is another possible means of engagement. The growing
number of students who prefer watching Korean historical dramas by Antonio J. Domenech
online rather than Spanish TV is a testament to their enthusiasm
* Excerpted from the December 2013 EU Translators’ Workshop discussion panel in
for Korean cultural products.
It is very interesting to see how Korean literature is expanding
in Spanish, being dispersed through blogs that discuss Korean
culture, language, and music. Numerous social network groups
related to Korea are rapidly coalescing new readership. When
publishing Korean literature in Spanish, the young generation
must not be overlooked.
At the same time, it is important to invest in training new
translators. The programs that exist must be expanded, and more
people who speak Spanish as a first language should be recruited.
Offering Korean translation classes at Spanish universities will
help. Cultural education is also indispensable because translation
is not just about linguistics and idiomatic expressions, but
transcultural sensitivity. It is crucial to provide systematic support
for corporations that promote Korean culture in the Spanish
speaking world, in addition to cultivating new translators.
A distribution network for Korean literature also needs to be
pioneered. Despite the increasing number of translated Korean
books, their circulation is remarkably low in Spanish-speaking
countries. Japanese literature already has a foothold and Chinese
literature is beginning to settle in, but Korean literature has yet to
find a niche. Although publishers like Editorial Verbum (Spain),
Ediciones del Ermitaño (Mexico), and Editorial Bajo la Luna
(Argentina) are publishing Korean literature, more pathways to
reach readers are necessary, since publishing quality works and
attracting the public are equally important.
Further endorsement of translation is essential to fostering
mutual understanding and amicable relations between Spanish- Antonio J. Domenech is an anthropologist and historian of religion,
speaking countries and Korea. This is a historical moment for specializing in Korea and intercultural dialogue. He is also director of the Korean
Korean and Spanish culture. Living in a global era, we need to studies program at the University of Málaga and a professor of Korean Studies,
make space for transcultural exchange. It is not an easy task in as well as a translator of books on Korean culture and arts.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 79

Overseas Angle

The World of the Text

Kim Young-ha's recent novel, How a Murderer Remembers, ostensibly
the story of a retired serial killer in his 70s suffering from Alzheimer's,
is also an elaboration of the various ways in which one can not know.
From simple ignorance and forgetting, to repression and disavowal, to
neurological conditions such as dementia, Capgras delusions (delusional
misidentification syndrome), and ultimately Alzheimer's, How a
Murderer Remembers is a cautionary tale for those who believe what
they are told, for whom memory is reliable, knowledge is certain, and
language is a transparent vehicle of communication.
Over the course of the novel, the figure of the forgetful killer comes
to stand as a more universal, if ironic, figure of loss and forgetting. The
fragility of the main character's powers of memory yields the familiar
"unreliable narrator," and the capacity of the text to deliver the truth to
the reader is in doubt from nearly the beginning of the book. Yet at the
same time that Kim's meta-fictional prose questions its own capacity to
communicate, the narrator finds ways to "tell the truth" about things—
about his identity as a serial killer, about the killings themselves, and
about his more recent experiences of memory loss and confusion. He
writes poetry (where he discloses his murderous methods with total
How a Murderer Remembers
candor, misunderstood by his poetry instructor as clever metaphor);
Kim Young-ha utilizes the double language of situational irony (when his adopted
Munhakdongne Publishing Corp. daughter asks about her real parents—whom the protagonist had killed
2013, 176p, ISBN 9788954622035
when she was an infant—he is able to answer honestly that "they were
good people—they were worried about you to the last moment");
and reads the rustle of leaves in the wind as an expressions of the lost,
buried, long-dead, forgotten—enigmatic transmissions from a distant
According to the "Author's Afterword," the author himself is caught
up in this world of the text. Kim notes that while he used to believe
the author created the fictional world from a position of mastery, he
has lately come to feel that the author is a sort of traveler or tourist in
that world—a visitor lacking autonomy, who is directed by the world of
language that he or she set in motion by first putting pen to paper. The
author enters this world and subordinates him- or herself to its space
and time, to the exigencies and rhythms of its inhabitants. The world
of fiction, alien and not subject to mastery, presents us with something
other than the world "as we know it." This sense of powerlessness before
language, of being a visitor in a linguistic world that itself (in the case of
Kim's fiction) calls attention to deep deficits in knowledge and memory,
could be regarded as a figure for translation itself. Translation is in
this sense a visitation—the arrival of a stranger or strange language as

80 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

a visitor (albeit cloaked in the familiar sounds of a local dialect);
but also in the more radical sense of visitation as an appearance,
an unheralded arrival from a different world outside of familiar
space and time.
This idea of translation does not immediately fit within two
dominant models by which translated literary texts and their
circulation in a global marketplace are currently understood: the
text as exemplary of a particularly national cultural identity; and
world literature as "multi-"—a collection of texts from different
(but ultimately homogenized) linguistic or cultural contexts that,
as Emily Apter points out in her recent Against World Literature
(Verso, 2013), "ignores the deep structures of national belonging
and economic interest contouring the international culture
industry". Against these, the world of the translated text as doubly
alien instead "signifies language in a state of non-belonging, or
nationalism degree zero".
This is a remarkable time to be teaching Korean literature in
the U.S. While ten years ago it might have been difficult to teach
a reasonably comprehensive course on modern and contemporary
Korean literature, today not only canonical texts but also
contemporary and cutting-edge work is available, giving readers
access to current trends and developments in Korean letters.
Yet what Kim's novel suggests, however obliquely, is that all
utterance requires translation, and that the world of the text thus
consists not of certain knowledge or cultural information but of
enigmatic messages, expressions of a world alien to author, reader,
and translator alike. Kim's fiction, often seen as unmoored from
the particularities of national context, insists on the world of the
text, resisting the common sense designation of "world literature"
(in both its national-particular and global-universal senses). It
stands instead as a sort of "literature of world," adjacent to but
autonomous from the mastery of the translator or critic. Christopher P. Hanscom is an assistant
professor in the Department of Asian Languages
and Cultures at UCLA. He is the author of The Real
by Christopher P. Hanscom Modern: Literary Modernism and the Crisis of
Representation in Colonial Korea and co-editor of
Imperatives of Culture: Selected Essays on Korean
History, Literature, and Society from the Japanese
Colonial Era. His research interests include the
relationship between social and aesthetic forms,
comparative colonialism, and concepts of race and
culture under Japanese empire.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 81

Meet the Publishers

One way to approach learning about a new country is to read books on its history and culture.
There are a few publishers in Korea that specialize in English-language publications for
foreigners. Publishing books about Korea in English likely means that a publisher is highly
conscious of the unique aspects of Korea that appeal to foreigners yet convey a sense of the
universal. Seoul Selection is one such publisher.

Publishing company Seoul Selection is diverse. Their catalog ranges from Seoul
located on the road to Bukchon Hanok tourist guidebooks to books related to
Village, a famous tourist attraction in literature, history, nature, and religion.
Seoul. As you walk in the door, you may The Seoul Selection book shop, the sales
notice the brisk office atmosphere of the outlet of the company that is a mere five
company. You might also hear the low- minutes away on foot, sells organic tea,
pitched voice of the foreign editor. fragrant fruit extracts, caps with the phrase
The CEO of the publishing company, “Seoul at the front of it,” and Korean
Hank K im (K im Hyung-geun), f irst DVDs with English subtitles, currently
established Seoul Selection in 2002 after the number one cultural export of Korea.
quitting his job as a journalist for a news Several years ago, with the help of global
service he worked at for over 10 years. c ontent d i s t r ibuter, I n g r a m, S e ou l
Kim’s original intent for starting Seoul Selection also gained access to a global
Selection was to contribute to the effort supply chain for its publications.
to increase awareness about Korea on an CEO Kim ranked Seoul Selection’s
international level, which he believed 2009 tourist guidebook Seoul first among
to be underappreciated at the time. the publishers’ 90-plus books, stressing its
Considering his initial aim, it is natural narrative touch as the guidebook’s distinct
that the company is located in such a feature. For the past three years, Seoul has
famous tourist destination. sold more copies than Lonely Planet, an
T he bu si ne s s proje c t s of S e ou l indication of its popularity as a guidebook.
Selection are extensive; the publishing As an example of its storytelling, Seoul
company is involved in essentially any provides a well-informed account about
field related to the promotion of Korea. Pepero Day, an annual event among young
Above all, the publishing catalog itself is people where they give the thin stick-

82 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014

shaped cookie snacks as gifts on November
11 or 11.11. There is also information
given regarding the popularity of the
custom, which was initially promoted by
the confectionery maker for marketing
Due to his conviction that publishing
is a means to create awareness of the
cruelties happening in North Korea, Kim
also speaks proudly of Across the Tumen,
a novel about North Korea. It is a story
about the pain and suffering of a boy
named Young Dae who lost his parents 2

and ventured into China, crossing the

North Korean border to find his sister.
The book is credited for its authenticity as
it is based on numerous interviews with
North Korean refugees.
Ask a Korean Dude, written by Kim 3
himself, is Seoul Selection’s most popular
title at present. One of t he cu ltura l
differences it imparts to its foreign readers
the question “Have you eaten?” it should
not be taken as a suggestion to have a meal 4
together, but rather as an everyday greeting
or form of small talk. The book is full of
such tips and pieces of advice about aspects
of Korean culture that may be difficult for
non-Koreans to understand.
Other books worth reading include:
Korean War in Color, a book of color
photographs by NBC war correspondent
John Rich; Doing Business in Korea, a
book especially useful for those who want 6 9
to start a business in Korea; Letters from
Joseon, a collection of letters from the wife
of an American diplomat in 19th century
Korea to her home country; and Korean
Film Directors, a book series about well-
known Korean film directors such as Park
Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho.
According to K im, thank s to the
efficient transportation infrastructure
and super efficient telecommunication
environment, you can meet anyone in 1. Korean Antique Furniture & Accessories 6. Korea Through Her Birds
the country within hours if you want, Mathieu Deprez, Seoul Selection Robert Newlin, Seoul Selection
2013, 127p, ISBN 1624120105 2013, 244 p, ISBN 1624120067
which makes Korea an intriguing country.
2. Eerie Tales from Old Korea 7. The Korean Way of Tea
Therefore, "you never know what can Brother Anthony of Taizé, Seoul Selection Brother Anthony of Taizé, Seoul Selection
happen.” Kim argues that even though in- 2013, 176p, ISBN 1624120024 2007, 124p, ISBN 8991913172
depth research on Korea is challenging it is 3. An Illustrated Guide to Korean 8. Ask a Korean Dude
worth it. Chad Meyer, Seoul Selection Kim Hyung-geun, Seoul Selection
2013, 308p, ISBN 162412013X 2012, 344p, ISBN 8997639005
To those who may think that obtaining
4. Seoul 9. Korea
information about Korea through books
Robert Koehler, Seoul Selection Robert Koehler, Seoul Selection
will take too much time, I recommend 2013, 464p, ISBN 899191358X 2012, 748p, ISBN 8991913997
Seoul Selection’s monthly magazine, Seoul, 5. Hangeul (Korea Essentials No.1)
as a way of finding out about the latest Robert Koehler, Seoul Selection
2010, 104 p, ISBN 8991913695
social and cultural happenings in the city.

by Shin Junebong

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 83

Meet the Publishers

Corp., Publishers
A pioneer in publishing English language books about Korea,
Hollym emerged from the desire of founder Rhimm Insoo to enter
the American publishing market, and has since opened branches in
five additional countries. The publisher is also beloved in Korea for
its children’s books and high-quality books of poetry.

Hollym Corporation Publishers, founded in 1963, was the

first major publishing company to publish books about
Korea in English. Last year marked its 50th anniversary.
Considering that Korean history was marred by great
destruction during the Korean War (1950–1953), as well as
the ruptures of modern times, Hollym is undoubtedly one of
the oldest publishing houses in Korea.
In t he 1970s, Holly m went t hrough a period of
significant growth. It grew into a financially secure company
through its publication of poetry, which included famous
poems by Korean and non-Korean poets alike. Hollym’s
poetry books were bound with a high-quality hardback cover
and sold with an LP of a poetry reading. Books on the art
of flower arranging, as well as cookbooks in color, were also
very popular publications.
The 1970s also saw a housing boom for the high-rise
apartment complexes that have since become emblematic
of modern Korean lifestyle. Park Chansoo, the director
of Hollym said, “Books from Hollym were bestsellers as
coffee table books for the living rooms in those kinds of
apartments.” As the basic needs for survival were met with
the growth of the Korean economy, people’s desire for
cultural artifacts began to increase.
With the confidence gained from its success in the
domestic Korean market. Hollym turned its attention to the
1. The Beauty of Korean Food
international market in 1979. The late founder of Hollym,
Institute of Traditional Korean Food 2
Hollym Corporation Publishers Rhimm Insoo, visited the U.S. and found that Japanese
2008, 261p, ISBN 9781565912533 publishers had already made a tremendous effort to introduce
2. Goguryeo Japan abroad through the publication of books in English.
Jeon Ho-tae
Hollym Corporation Publishers
Meanwhile, there were hardly any books in English about
2008, 288p, ISBN 9781565912823 Korea. Rhimm became determined to enter the American
3. A Journey in Search of Korea’s Beauty publishing market and opened an office in New Jersey. At
Bae Yong Joon present, Hollym Corporation Publishers has established
Hollym Corporation Publishers
2010, 428p, ISBN 978156591307
marketing networks in Germany, England, Australia,
Japan, and Singapore, an unprecedented scale for a Korean

84 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014


4. Let's Visit Korea

Han Heung-Gi
Hollym Corporation Publishers
2006, 32p, ISBN 9781565910102
5. Mr. Moon and Miss Sun
Duance Vorhees & Mark Mueller
Hollym Corporation Publishers 5
1990, 45p, ISBN 9780930878726
8. The Foolish Goblin and the Woodcutter
Song Eun; Illustrator: Oh Chi-keun
Hollym Corporation Publishers
2013, 32p, ISBN 9788970946955

publishing company. an expert in Korean art who

Park Chansoo says Hollym’s bestselling lectures all over the country.
books are its various series of Korean This book is much loved by
language books, as well as Korean cooking Korean readers.
books. As for the Korean language books, Inside Korea was published in
Hollym offers different and diverse series, conjunction with Hyundai Motors 7
ranging from elementar y level books Group with the aim of introducing
covering reading, listening, speaking, Korea to foreign readers. In both
and writing to books that serve practical English and Korean, the book covers
purposes, such as everyday communication general politics, economy, society, culture,
and business conversation. Notable among history, and religion in Korea.
their cookbooks are The Beauty of Korean Hollym is also renowned as a publisher
Food: With 100 Best-loved Recipes and Good of children’s books. They have been
Morning, Kimchi!, which contains kimchi publishing children’s picture books
recipes for a healthy diet. since late 1980s. Hollym offers 8
Books that introduce Korean culture illustrated stor ybook s, nurser y
are also quite popular. In collaboration school, and elementary-level books, as
with the Korea Foundation, Hollym has well as other series suitable for various 9
published a nine-book series on traditional age groups.
Korean culture. Two of the books in the Of course, they also publish English
series are Buddhist Sculpture of Korea book s for child ren. A mong t hese, a
and Seowon, a book about the private 10-volume series with illustrations of
academies that were dedicated to higher traditiona l Korea n fa ir y ta les is t he
learning during the Joseon era. publishing house’s most representative
Hollym has published 10 books in serie s, fe at u ri ng book s such a s The
7. Special Lecture on Korean Paintings
a series on contemporar y Korean art Woodcutter and the Heavenly Maiden, The
Oh Ju-seok
including: K-Pop: Roots and Blossoming Firedog, Mr. Moon and Miss Sun, and The Hollym Corporation Publishers
of Korean Popular Music, Coe xisting Herdsman and the Weaver. 2011, 261p, ISBN 9781565913141
Differences: Women Artists in Contemporary Let’s Visit Korea and Let’s Visit Seoul 8. K-POP
Korean Art, and Korean Abstract Painting: are part of its “Let’s Visit” series that was Kim Chang Nam
Hollym Corporation Publishers
A Formation of Korean Avant-Garde. Five designed for children to get to know more 2012, 160p, ISBN 9781565913318
more books in this series will be published about Korea and are also popular sellers 9. Inside Korea
in the future. for foreign readers abroad. Lee Eung-chel et al.
Special Lecture on Korean Paintings is a Hollym Corporation Publishers
2012, 512p, ISBN 9781565914032
compilation of talks given by Oh Ju-seok, by Shin Junebong

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 85


Bok Dohoon is a literary critic. His Kim Ji-eun is a children’s book Uh Soo-woong is editor-in-chief of
collections of critical essays include A writer and children’s literature critic. the Chosun Ilbo Weekly Magazine.
Portrait of a Blindman and The Four She currently lectures on theories
Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He is on of children's fiction writing in the Yoon So-hee is a children’s book
the editorial board of list_Books from Department of Creative Writing at writer. Her books include Prejudice,
Korea. Hanshin University. She is on the Aram’s Secret, and 7 Stories to Help You
editorial board of list_Books from Study. She is the winner of the 13th
Choi Jae-bong is a senior reporter Korea. MBC Children’s Writing Prize.
at the culture desk of The Hankyoreh
newspaper. Kim Mansu is a professor with the Yu Youngjin is a children’s literature
Department of Culture and Contents critic and a teacher at an elementary
Chong Won Sik majored in English at Inha University. His works include school. He is the author of The Body's
literature at Sogang University. He Plot and Character in the Age of Imagination and Fairytale.
joined the Kyunghyang Newspaper in Storytelling. He is on the editorial
2007 and worked in the city section at board of list_Books from Korea.
the Weekly Kyunghyang. At present, he
works at its literature desk. Kim Young-burn is a reporter at the
culture desk of the Munhwa Ilbo. Translators
Claire Lee is a staff reporter writing
for The Korea Herald, an English- Kim Youngwook is a children’s Agnel Joseph dabbles in translating
language daily in Seoul. book writer and an illustrated book Korean literature. In 2013, he won
researcher. Her published books the LTI Korea Korean Literature
Eom Hye-suk conducts research on include The Illustrated Book: Encounter Translation Award for New Career
children’s literature and is a critic of with Music, The Grand Fiasco with the Translators, as well as the Korea
illustrated books who also works as Bookworm, and The Mysterious Pillow. Times Modern Korean Literature
a translator. Her best-known work Translation Award. You can reach him
is Reading My Delightful Illustrated Lee Hyun Woo is active as a book at
Books. reviewer under the pseudonym is
Rodya. He is the author of The Ally Hwang holds a doctorate
Han Miwha is a book columnist. Her Bookcase of Rodya, Freedom to Read in Comparative Literature from
works include Bestsellers of Our Time Books, Rereading the World Literature B i n g h a m t o n Un i v e r s i t y a n d i s
and This Is How Bestsellers Are Made. of Rodya, A Very Personal Reading, and currently translating the short story
Rodya’s Lectures on Russian Literature. collection Myoungrang by Cheon
Jung Seo Rin is a reporter at the Seoul Un-yeong. She was a fellow of the
Daily Newspaper. Michelle Nam has been with the International Translation Foundation
Imprima Korea Agency for two years and has recently published a short
Kang Yu-jung is a literary and film and has been in charge of the Minumsa story translation of Seo Hajin's "At the
critic, and the author of Oedipus’ Publishing copyrights division since Gunwale."
Forest, a collection of critical essays. 1995.
She is on the editorial board of list_ Ben Jackson worked for the English-
Books from Korea. Richard Hong is a book columnist language magazine SEOUL for three
and the head of BC Agency. He years and is now a freelance writer and
Kim Bum-soo is a reporter with the translated 13: The Story of the World’s translator in Korea. He has a master's
Hankook Ilbo. Most Notorious Superstitions, has degree in Korean Literature from the
appeared on KBS 1 Radio’s "Global School of Oriental and African Studies
Kim Dongshik is a literary critic Today," and writes columns for The in London.
and a professor of Korean Language Korea Economic Daily and Posco News.
and Literature at Inha University. His Cho Yoonna is a freelance interpreter
collections of critical essays include Shin Junebong is a reporter with the and translator.
Cynicism and Fascination and Memory JoongAng Ilbo.
and Vestige. Choi Inyoung is an artist and
Shin Soojin is a freelance children's translator specializing in Korean
Kim Inae Sujung is a children’s story book editor. literature and the arts. She has been
writer and critic, and the president of translating for over 20 years.
the KBBY (Korean Board on Books Sue Yang is a literary agent and also
for Young People). She is the author of runs the agency, EYA in Seoul and E. K. DuBois is a freelance translator.
the children’s stories Across the Duroke Beijing, representing global authors as She currently resides in Seoul.
River and The Brave Little Mouse, well as bestselling authors.
along with a collection of critical
essays,Why Children’s Stories Are Fun Suh Heewon is a literary critic. He
to Read. She is also the recipient of made his debut in 2009 when he won
Today’s Young Artist Award. the New Writer’s Contest in the critic
division sponsored by the Munhwa
Ilbo and Segye Ilbo.

list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014 87

Featured Authors

Im m a n u e l K i m i s a p ro f e s s o r Sophie Bowman completed the Special Section

in the Department of Asian and intensive course at the LTI Korea
pp. 12-21
Asian American Studies at SUNY Translation Academy and is now living
Binghamton University. He teaches and working in Seoul.
North Korean literature and culture
and modern Korean literature and Sue Y. Kim is a freelance translator
film. and writer based in Los Angeles.

Jung Yewon is a freelance interpreter Yang Sung-jin is a staff reporter and

and translator. She received the Daesan editor at The Korea Herald. Yang wrote
Foundation Translation Grant in 2009, a Korean history book in English, Click
the LTI Translation Grant in 2010, and into the Hermit Kingdom, and a news-
the Korea Times Translation Award in based English vocabulary book, News
2011. She is currently working on the English Power Dictionary. Cho Eunyoung won the Grand Prix
translation of Vaseline Buddha, a novel at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava
by Jung Young Moon. Yi Jeong-hyeon is a freelance (BIB) in 2011 for her illustration of
translator. She has translated several Run Toto!
Kari Schenk was the co-recipient of books and papers, including Korean
the commendation award in the 2006 Traditional Landscape Architecture and
Korea Times Literature Translation Atlas of Korean History.
Awards, and in 2010 she attended a
special course in translation at LTI
Korea. She lectures in English at Korea
Kevin O'Rourke is a professor
emeritus at Kyunghee University. He
Kim Stoker is an editor and lecturer Yoo Juyeon was the recipient of
has translated over 20 books in a wide
a t Ew h a Wo m a n s Un i v e r s i t y ' s the Golden Apple Prize at the 2011
range of genres. Among his works, The
Graduate School of Translation and Biennial of Illustration Brastislava
Contemporary Korean Poets (1980) won Interpretation.
the Best Translation Award organized (BIB). Her award-winning work,
by the Poetry Society of London. One Day, was evaluated as having
Shannon Doona Heit has worked successfully conveyed an East Asian
as an editor and translator for the spatial aesthetic.
Kim Soyoung is currently working Seoul Global Center and the Korea
on translating fiction and nonfiction
Journal. She is currently editing the
from Korean into English.
English version of Beyond the Shadow
of Western-centrism (working title)
Kim Ungsan is a freelance translator. for Sogang University professor Kang
He has worked as a lecturer in English
Jung-In. She has a master’s degree
literature at Seoul National University in Anthropology from Hanyang
and at Korea National Open University. University.

Lee Seungmi is a second year student

at the Graduate School of Translation
and Interpretation of Ewha Womans Kang Gyeongsu worked for many
University, majoring in French. years as a manhwa illustrator. After
Cover Art falling in love with children’s books,
Park Kyoung-lee is a graduate he went on to become an illustrator
student at Hankuk University of Noh In-kyung, M r. Tu t t i a n d for various picture books, such as Mr.
Foreign Studies. She won the 9th LTI 100 Water Drops, Munhakdongne Confucius’ Bakery and What Should I
Korea Korean Literature Translation Publishing Corp., 2012 Be When I Grow Up?, among others.
Award for New Career Translators. He is the author-illustrator of I’m
Angry!, Give Back My Friend’s Legs!,
Paul Jonghan Yoon is a freelance and The Big Fart. He won the Ragazzi
translator and studied at UCLA and Nonfiction Award at the 2011 Bologna
the University of Chicago. International Children’s Book Fair for
his book The Stories Shouldn’t Be True.
Peter J. Koh is a freelance translator
and interpreter who completed LTI
Korea's Special Workshop in 2009 and
Intensive Workshop in 2010.

Shin Junebong is a reporter for the

JoongAng Ilbo.

88 list_ Books from Korea Vol.23 Spring 2014