게시물 상세

One-Liner Quotes

 

Movie Critic’s Pick

 

2022.01.03

 

?

?

 

Though Korean literature never won a Nobel Prize (I believe it is not a big deal), there are countless great pieces. Many literary works will deliver globally appealing stories as Koreans have gone through overwhelming events. Modern Korean history is full of incidents and has been written into works of literature thanks to the writers' efforts to reflect their experience of overcoming catastrophic events. Koreans experienced war, poverty, dictatorship, and the democratic movement in a short period. Hence, it is only natural for novelists to capture the times in their works.
North and South (Moonji Publishing Company), written by Hong Sung-won, is one of the masterpieces that the world would recognize. This saga was written in 1977 and showed the Korean war, the horrific fall of humans as a species, and the tenacious vitality that regenerates life as characters overcome the hardships in life. Hong Sung-won is often considered an anti-communist writer, but readers have to understand the limited freedom of expression in the 1970s, near the end of Yushin (the Fourth Republic).
As if the author himself recognized such limits, he published a revised edition in 2000 that changed how the author describes the characters and their relations, eight years before he passed away. The author wanted to express the cruelty of the war and the aspiration to recover humanism rather than criticizing South Korea or North Korea for waging war or suggest the standard of good and evil to refer to a particular side for being more immoral. Fortunately, many of the readers in the 1970s and 80s did not read the North and South to show the author's black and white thinking. This surprised me as the readers' understanding of the piece clearly shows how incredible collective intelligence is.
North and South describes situations from when the war started to when the armistice was concluded. Many characters are featured in the scenes, being entangled in relations with each other in the process. Men in the book are sometimes brave, show cowardly behaviors, fight for the truth and justice, lie, and show hypocrisy. People throw a net of betrayal, and many get affected. Ladies in the book sacrifice themselves to save their father or brother, overcoming every violence in the middle of the war.
All the descriptions in the novel feel quite real, making the readers travel back to the 1950s through North and South. The novel shows the power of literature which moves people's hearts while transcending time and space and demonstrates the value of diachrony and universality. Hong Sung-won's North and South is classic Korean modern literature as well as one of the greatest feats of the author.

 

?

?

 

I also should not forget to mention Choi In-hun's works, considering how high in quality his novels are. His most well-known piece would be The Square, but we should not forget to mention A Dream of Nine Clouds, One Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist, and A Grey Man. It is not that well-known to people, but the most unique writing of his is A Detailed Record of Grey Club (Collection of Korea Post-War Problematic Literature / Shingu Publishing Company). It is no exaggeration to say that this novel represents the era as it shows all the characteristics of literary works after the Korean war.
The writer Choi In-hun is someone one would compare to the German writer Erich Maria Remarque. Both writers best express the intellectual desire to be freed from pain and suffering through post-war nihilism and deviance in their works. The two writers had their works reinterpreted to movies or plays while they were alive: Choi In-hun's The Square and Erich Maria Remarque's Arch of Triumph.
A Detailed Record of Grey Club was written in 1959. Korea was devastated after the war, and people lost their sense of life. The society was chaotic, and President Syngman Rhee's dictatorship was near its end. It was also a time when the foreshadowing of the 5.16 coup was hovering in every corner of society.
The characters of A Detailed Record of Grey Club were a writer, a painter, and a music enthusiast who would gather at the Grey Club. In other words, they were dilettantes. To fulfill their artistic desire, the three let a muse join the club. This is where the courtship of the men for this woman begins. Interestingly, the way the characters show their love is provocative for people in the 1950s, showing a décadent-like aspect.
This work offers a glimpse into an aspect of the Beat Generation, angry young men in Korea who longed for a new era and wanted to break free from the restrictions and hypocrisy of the older generation. Whether it is the past or now, Korea is a country created by the Dadaism and dynamic energy of young people. A Detailed Record of Grey Club shows the starting point of Korean society's direction.
Choi In-hun's A Detailed Record of Grey Club is also a novel that transcends decades of time and space that captures people's emotions.

 

 


Written by Oh Dong-Jin (Movie Critic, Wildflower Film Awards President of the Organizing Committee, Busan International Film Festival Market Co-President of the Organizing Committee)

 

kbbok

Oh Dong-Jin (Movie Critic, Wildflower Film Awards President of the Organizing Committee, Busan International Film Festival Market Co-President of the Organizing Committee)

#North and South#Hong Sung-won#A Detailed Record of Grey Club#Choi In-hun
If you liked this article, share it with others. 페이스북트위터블로그인쇄

Pre Megazine