One of the great challenges that Korean literature faces in the postmodern period is how to invent a meaningful community of imagination that can satisfy the following equation: people = state (or capital). This paradigm is deeply related to the fact that Korean history in the postmodern era progressed under the people ≠ state (or capital) model. Around the time that Korea was independently forming the idea that people = state (= capital), the Japanese Empire forced Korea to pursue the people ≠ state paradigm. Even after Korea's liberation, this paradigm continued unchanged, with the Cold War unavoidably perpetuating it, leading to the division of the peninsula under two different nations and political ideologies. Another problem, however, was that the people ≠ state model caused Koreans to become obsessed with the people = state paradigm as an absolute good, which they espoused and idealized.
Therefore the people ≠ state paradigm has been the biggest cause of unhappiness in modern Korea. That is why literature, which has the power to reconstruct new worlds in a manner different from that of politics, had to conceive of a people = state paradigm completely different from political incarnations of this idea. As a result, Korean literature has been unable to put to rest its interest in what form the people = state paradigm should take.
The first representative work of Korean fiction that focused on a sincere reflection of the sense of a meaningful community was Park Kyung-Ri's novel, Land. This novel focused on Koreans' hardships from the country's colonization to liberation. However Land didn't focus solely on the ordeals of the people who learned through bitter experience what the people ≠ empire paradigm entailed. Park's novel reconstructed and reproduced the miserable people ≠ empire model from history, while at the same time uncovered a meaningful form of coexistence between the people, the state, and capital while also offering ideological roots to support this harmonious condition.
According to Land, premodern Korean history was characterized by han, or “unresolved regret.” Before the people ≠ state paradigm emerged, Korea had been a hereditary class-based society. Each person's life was predetermined at birth, leaving only three kinds of lives to choose from: a life of greed, led by a powerful superego whose desires could control Korea’s class-based society; a life of denial of the superego's desires in favor of personal ones; or a life of built-up despair and anger caused by being able to neither give in to the superego's desires nor reject them. In the novel, most premodern Koreans chose the third kind of life, so they were people with a lot of han. Of course, people strove to become free souls. Just before Korea's modern efforts to implement people = state paradigm could bear fruit, Korea was colonized. Suddenly relegated to colonial status, Korea became a society yielding to the individual along the lines of 'to hell with everything as long as I survive.' In this way, the pent-up han of the pre-modern era degenerated into deep resentment and revenge. Thus began countless dramas involving endless greed and betrayal. The sudden rise of an absurd paradigm in which people ≠ state ≠ capital fundamentally blocked any opportunity for han to be sublimated through individual free will. This is the view of the Korean colonial period espoused in Park’s Land.