September 12 at 4pm, Haechi Hall, Myeongdong: Korean Modern Literature
Meet three of the brightest young imaginative voices in Korean fiction Cheon Myeong-Kwan, Hwang Jung-Eun, and Yun I-Hyeong on September 12th in Seoul in English AND Korean! Courtesy of Asia Publishers and Seoul ABC.
Authors will read, books will be sold, half of the presentation will be moderated, half of the presentations will be audience questions. Not only is the event bi-lingual, but the books are also bilingual. These are great authors and great books that deal with the mechanization, commodification, and separation of society in highly entertaining and quite different ways.
• Cheon Myeong-Kwan is probably the most famous of the three authors. He has two books translated into English; Homecoming, and Modern Family. Homecoming is a short, bilingual story taking the modern trends of corporatization and income-gap to a logical and alarming story, and somehow doing it in the context of a quasi-family reunion. It is Dickensian, dystopic, alarming, and touching. Modern Family is a dark comedy of a family both coming apart (and together) at the seams. It’s been made into a movie called Boomerang Family (Based on Modern Family in English and Aging Family in direct translation from Korean) here and if that intrigues you watch the entire movie on Youtube (interrupted by commercials). If you aren’t that strict about copyright issues, the movie can also be found as an .mkv on Pirates Bay – the version I find has Russian vocal dubbing, but English subtitles, and worked just fine.
Cheon began his writing work as a scriptwriter and this shows in his fiction, making it quite easy to read.
• Hwang Jung-Eun’s work is Kong’s Garden which takes on the issues of the ‘precariat,’ that is the group of, often young, people who subsist on part-time or insufficiently paid jobs, and the fraying of social bonds. The book was originally titled “What’s in Store for Yang”, meaning what is the future for a single woman and it vividly portrays the effects of dehumanization on its narrator. She has become so numb, due to psychological death of a thousand cuts (meaningless part-time jobs, essentially loveless relationships, and general physical abuse), that when she has chances to do something human, she finds herself paralysed and incapable.
• Yun I-Yeong’s (daughter of writer Jae Ha Lee) work is Danny, Like Cheon, Yun takes postmodern trends, in this case the weakening of family bonds, increased mechanization, and the alarming Korean susceptibility to large-level loss of life during catastrophe and blends them together into a charming, and ultimately sad, story of new and unlikely social bonds being restored – in this case between a worn out grandmother and a childcare robot named Danny. Danny is Yun’s only translated book so far, but as “Her writing ([is] known for going beyond the boundaries of dreams and reality” (Naver Encyclopedia) including topics controversial in Korea such as homosexual love it seems that she is a strong candidate for more translations.
These three exceptional Korean writers will read their work and be interviewed (in English & Korean!) at Seoul Global Cultural Centre in Myeong-dong. You will also be able to ask them questions in the Q and A session, buy new bilingual editions of some of their most celebrated stories and get them signed. I will moderate the event which is co-organised with ASIA Publishers – publishers of some of the most exciting Korean literature in print. (www.facebook.com/events/1620470551540355/)
한국문학을 밝히는 젊고 창의적인 세 명의 작가들을 오는 9월에 서울에서 만나보세요. 이 특출난 한국 작가들이 명동에 위치한 서울글로벌문화체험센터에서 작품을 낭독하고 인터뷰를 할 예정입니다. (한국어와 영어로!) 질의응답 시간에 작가들에게 질문도 할 수 있고, 우수한 작품으로 선정되어 출간된 새로운 K-픽션 책을 구입해 사인도 받을 수 있습니다. 이 이벤트는 서울명예시민인 찰스 몽고메리 교수가 사회를 볼 예정이며, 가장 재미있는 한국문학 작품들을 한영대역으로 출간하는 아시아 출판사와 함께 진행합니다. (www.facebook.com/events/