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One-Liner Quotes


Why We Read Fiction

Pharmacist’s Pick




Park Hool-Ryung is a pharmacist and writer who runs “A Bookstore That Is Yet Dependent.” With the goal of “Book & Fun,” which means that the fun of reading books shouldn’t be missed, the writer grows with readers and customers. (Instagram: @a_dok_bang)


Most countries in the world today are deeply concerned about their aging populations. It is ironic that while we are living in an era of prosperity, benefiting from industrialization and advanced technology, the number of young people who will take the lead in the country is shrinking. This is also true for Korea, a country with a rapidly aging population. This often leads to conflicts between the young and the old, as they have different goals. This uncomfortable reality makes me wonder what it would be like if it were fiction. The world of fiction either nakedly shows reality or distorts it. This is why we read fiction.


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In the book Your Later Years (Hyundae Munhak Publishing), Jang Gil-Do retires from his job as team leader of the National Pension Service’s Retirement Pension TF Team. On the surface, he appears to have worked for a healthy state organization, but the team was actually tasked with secretly eliminating pensioners as the country’s explosive aging population ran out of money to fund pensions. Jang Gil-Do has spent his entire life loyal to the state. But after retirement, he is forced to turn against the state, because he found out that his wife, who has been ill in the hospital for a long time, had been paying into the retirement pension and has eventually become a pensioner. This means that his former organization is coming to terminate his wife. The retirement pension that was supposed to help individuals have a better retirement was actually preventing them from even being able to enter retirement. The state in the novel chose to put off reforming the complex retirement pension system and instead opted for a secretive and easy way out. The idea that fiction both reveals and distorts reality is maximized at this point. Did they not foresee the current state of aging 50 years ago? I’m sure they had planned for the future quite seriously back then. But, things don’t always go as planned. If so, who is to blame for the failure of social forecasting, and where should we start to correct it? What would I do if I were Jang Gil-Do?


The subway moved at the speed of an old man eating. But nobody complains. After all, only those with plenty of time to spare ride the subway. Jang Gil-Do looked around. Each of them had a look on their face that either said, “I’m experienced and know everything,” or “I’m embarrassed to be old.” The former was hardly convincing, and the latter was all too obvious. To compensate for their free rides, young people’s subway fares have long since exceeded the cost of a small meal. Thanks to the cheap labor of the elderly, it’s no wonder that young people who can’t even get a decent job are unable to use the subway. - p72~73


“Do you think you have any chance? Do you think you can win? No. If you think about it, you are just as hopeless. Time is not on the side of the young as much as it is not on the side of the old. It will eventually betray all living beings. Fight, and by the time you look up, you will be too old to fight.” - p134


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Recently, in Korea, there has been a growing interest in the lives of people with disabilities. The lack of public transportation facilities that can be used by people with disabilities “on a daily basis” has been brought to the surface. In fact, just trying to use public transportation with a baby carriage is enough to show this, but no one except the disabled person or their family seemed to care. Frustrated, people with disabilities decided to take the subway during the morning rush hour. While it was in the name of “protest,” they had a right to ride the subway at that time of day. Thinking about it, I don‘t remember seeing anyone in a wheelchair on the subway or bus on my way to work. Did they really have nothing important to do in the morning, or were they just complying with social pressure to make life easier for everyone else?
In the book Yuna’s Spring (&), the protagonist, Sun-Ae, is a woman with a cut-off career. After giving birth to a child and suffering from depression, she falls into a religious cult. She even takes her child to the cult, which leads to a divorce with no division of property and no parental rights. Thinking she will end up dead, Sun-Ae is desperate to get a job anywhere, and out of dozens of applications, she finally lands a job at a company. However, oddly enough, her first assignment is to take care of Yuna. Who is this Yuna? Well, Yuna, as it turns out, was a developmentally disabled woman who was hired by the company as a temporary contractor, working in the in-house cafe. Yuna was able to communicate pretty well and make a few different types of coffee. Although she struggles with learning new things, she eventually picks up the pace. In fact, Sun-Ae didn’t have to do much.
The special thing about this novel is that the main character, Sun-Ae, is portrayed as a truly “ordinary person,” with the same concerns and behaviors that most of us have when we see a person with a disability. She feels overwhelmed by the need to be nice and to care for her, and she even frowns on Yuna when she constantly sends her meaningless texts like “I love you,” “yes,” and “why” after work. Sun-Ae doesn’t have a particularly strong sense of humanity, though she is the protagonist. That’s why Sun-Ae’s slow, gradual, and unhurried connection with Yuna gives us a lot to think about. What do adults with developmental disabilities really need, what is the environment surrounding them like, how do they spend their days, and how do people without families age? Lee In-Ae’s characteristic repo-like novel makes it even more realistic.


Everything was a mess. I stepped back into society to prove my usefulness after being abandoned by my family, but I felt like I was drowning in mud from the first minute. It was a hell with no end in sight. What slowly rose out of the murky mess was the face of no one else but Yuna. - p56


I’m not pity. That’s rude. - p96


“Ms, don’t give her hope if you are not going to take care of her for life. She has already had enough of the people who gave her false hope and went away – her parents.” - p202



Written by Park Hool-Ryung (Pharmacist, writer)



Park Hool-Ryung (Pharmacist, writer)

#Pharmacist#Your Later Years#Aging#Yuna’s Spring#Disabled person
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