Some days ago I reviewed Yun Heung-gil‘s A Rainy Spell, and despite the fact that it was pundan munhak, I rather liked it. In fact, I liked it a bit more than his more modern, “The Man Who Was Left as Nine Pairs of Shoes” (although both are quite good.
Poking around the internet I came across this article on Yun in the Korea Times.
The article notes that, “Yun’s works are mostly based on the Korean War, depicting ordinary people and families torn apart by the ideologies of the North and South,” and yet he generally overcomes (a sort of contentious word here) that burden by personalizing his stories and giving them scope in relationships that are larger than the mere details of the social nightmares in which they are embedded.
Expressing a common theme in Korean literature, Yun explains his writing as something akin to escape, ““Through my imagination I could exact my revenge, overcome my obstacles and live out my desires,” he said. “Writing novels were the same as ‘leaving home’ to me.” He further goes on to tie this ‘leaving’ up in another common theme of Korean modern literature, the return home, ““Through my literature, I feel like I was able to bridge a gap between the two Koreas,” Yun said.”
Amusingly, the article can’t leave this relationship to be discovered by the reader, and makes it explicit:
One woman seemed to grasp his plight exactly, offering a statement summarizing the writer’s passion for written words. “It seems as if you are not only leaving home in your writing,” she said, “but also coming home.”
Still, there you have the diasporic/homeward arc of much Korean writing. It’s a decent article for fan and casual reader alike.
Semi-related, the meeting this article discusses happened in 2009 at The Seoul Literary Society, which is a creation of the Swedish Ambassador to Korea (discussed here in the Times). Oddly, I can find no useful information on this group online. If anyone has contact info, or any further information, please feel free to drop it off to me, here.