Cho Se-hui

Summary of Author

Cho Sehui was born in 1942 in Gapyeong (Gyeonggi Province). He attended college at Seorabeol College and Kyonggi University in Seoul. Cho was a member of the so-called “hangul generation,” which was called that because its member were the first to be educated in the Korean language (the previous years had been under Japanese domination and language, and before the colonial period most scholars had studied Chinese).

Cho’s writing is sparse and explicit, though it can also seem surreal. His most famous work is “Small Ball Launched by a Dwarf.”  The Dwarf is a yŏnjak sosŏl (linked novel) or collection of separately published short stories which can stand alone or supplement each other.This fractured structure, along with Cho’s jump-cutting, juxtapositional, and un-sign-posted narrative portrays a society that “severs men from the natural rhythms and shape of creation.”

It is  a powerful work of social criticism focusing on the forced redevelopment of Seoul in the 1970s, and the human costs that accompanied it. It combines biting realism with an often fantastic structure that pulls a reader into the difficult and fragmented era the work describes. Cho combines a kaleidoscopic narrative approach, powerful use of scientific symbols, and a dead-flat and deadeye narrative tone. Reading The Dwarf requires some attention, but the interlocking narrative arcs and often disconcerting internal shifts in narrator or time frame are both supportive of the theme of the book and ultimately rewarding. Koreans consider this work to be one of the critical works of the 70’s.

Works Translated

A Dwarf Launches a Little Ball
Stories in The Voice of the Governor-General and Other Stories of Modern Korea

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