Im Chul-woo

Im Chul-woo
Born: October 15, 1954 (1954-10-15) (age 56)
Occupation : Novelist
Nationality: South Korea
Period: 1954-present


Im Chul-woo was born October 15, 1954, on Wando Island in Jeollanam-do. He moved to Gwangju at age 10  and attended Sung-il High School there. He attended  Jeonnam University, served in the Korean military for three years and returned to Jeonnam to earn  a degree in English Literature. he then completed graduate programs in English Literature at both Sogang University and Jeonnam University. Presently, he teaches Creative Writing at Hanshin University. Im was in Gwangju during the Gwangju Uprising. According to the Korea Journal:

Im was in Gwangju when the newly established military regime ruthlessly gunned down the citizens of Gwangju who were fighting for democracy. Whereas many of his colleagues and friends were wounded and even lost their lives in protest effort, Im survived. He survived, but his survival was the source of even worse torment for him — unbearable guilt. [1]

This event  critically influenced his outlook.  His work has centered around dramatizations of that event and works which more generally focus on issues of Korean separation.

His debut was The Dog Thief in 1981 [4] In 1985 he was awarded the 17th Korean Creative Writing Prize for The Land of My Father (Abeoji ui ttang) and in 1988 was awarded the 12th Yi Sang Literature Prize for The Red Room (Bulgeun bang), which has since been published in an anthology of the same name.

In 1994 Im’s novel, I Want to Go to the Island was made into a Korean movie, To the Starry Island. [5]

In 2010, Im’s work Wanting to Go Insane Yet Unable (Interdit de Folie), was translated into French by Choe Ae-young and Jean Bellemin-Nol [6]. As the title suggests, the book focuses on a highly traumatized Korean man in the 1980s, who would rather lose his sanity than continue to remember his painful personal memories. The Korea Herald notes that this work is “extremely experimental.”
Works in English

My Father’s Land (in The Star and Other Korean Short Stories)
The Red Room (in Red Room)

Works in Korean (Partial)

I Want to Go to the Island
Red Mountain, White Bird
Spring Day
Wanting to Go Insane Yet Unable


1.  Chanje, Wu. Literary Accounts of Painful Reality and the Quest for Truth. Koreana Magazine:
2. ^ Koreana Magazine:
3. ^ Koreana Magazine:
4. ^ The Star and Other Korean Short Stories, p. viii
5. ^
6. ^ Korean Herald Online:

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