Some mysterious how Yi Kwang-su, who wrote “The Heartless” and had more changes in philosophy than one man should conveniently be able to stand, was not on the Wikipedia. He is now, and you can check it out here...
It looks a little like this:
Famous (among other things) for writing Heartless the “first Korean novel,” Yi Kwangsu was born Yi Bogyeong on February 1, 1982. Yi was orphaned at about age 10 and grew up with Donghak believers. In 1904, around the time of the Donghak Peasant Revolution, he moves to Seoul in order to avoid the authorities. In 1905 he went to Japan for his education. Upon returning to Korea in 1913, he taught, in Jeongju, at Osan School. In 1915 he returned to Japan again to study Philosophy at Waseda University. In 1919 he moved to Shanghai and served in the Korean Provisional Government and became president of The Independent, a newspaper in Shanghai. Yi returned to Korea in 1921 and founded the Alliance for Self-Improvement, established on principles of enlightenment and self-help. From 1923 to 1934, Yi pursued a career in journalism working for several newspapers, including two that survive today, the Dong-a Ilbo and the Chosun Ilbo.In 1937 he was jailed for cultural activities subversive to the colonial (Japanese) government, but by 1939 he reversed his nationalism, adopted the Japanese name of Kayama Misturo and enthusiastically assumed pro-Japanese stances and activities. After the war, the Special Committee for the Investigation of Anti-nationalist Activities found Yi guilty of collaboration. In 1950 Yi was captured by the North Korean army and died in Manpo on October 25th, most likely of tuberculosis.
Yi was a fiction writer and essayist. His essays originally focused on the need for national consciousness. His fiction was among the first modern fiction in Korea and he is most famous for his novel, The Heartless. The Heartless was a description of the crossroads at which Korea found itself, stranded between tradition and modernity and undergoing conflict between social realities and traditional ideals. His career can be split into thirds. The first period (That of The Heartless), from 1910-19 featured a strong attack on Korea’s traditional society and the belief that Korea should adopt a more modern (“western”) worldview. From the early 20s to the 30’s Yi transformed into a dedicated nationalist and published a controversial essay, “On the Remaking of National Consciousness” which advocated a moral overhaul of Korea and blames Koreans for being defeatist. The third period, from the 30’s on, coincides with Yi’s conversion to Buddhism and his work consequently becomes quite Buddhist in tone. This was also the period in which, as noted above, Yi became a Japanese collaborator.
Yi’s professional judgment could be as fickle as his politics. In one famous case he befriended then abandoned Korean “New Woman” writer Kim Myongsun, arguably because his own beliefs about modernism had shifted.
Works in English
Works in Korean (Partial)
Mujong (The Heartless)
Dosan, An Chango
Stone Pillow (Essays)