In Search of a Lost Seoul

     

                                                                                                                

 

     Park Tae Won explores Seoul in the 1930s, and in a way

     that is impossible to recover solely through photographs,

     vividly restores the city to life.

 

Seoul: population 10,000,000, Miracle on the Han River, sixth highest population density in the world, 13th highest GDP. Yet even with this flowery praise, it’s difficult to see the true Seoul. In order to uncover what Seoul means to the lives of Koreans, we must reconstruct its history and customs. To that end, Park Tae Won’s autobiographical novel, A Day of Novelist Mr. Gubo, is a monumental work. Set in 1934 during the colonial era, a Korean novelist named Gubo pens a fascinating novel based on the record of his aimless wanderings around the city of Seoul for a day. If Walter Benjamin roamed around Paris, the capital of empire in the 1930s, and gazed upon the light and darkness of civilization, then writer Park Tae Won roamed Gyeongseong, the old name for Seoul and the capital of colonized Joseon, while examining the past and future of human civilization. Gubo the young novelist, kept one hand on his walking stick and the other on his notebook as he set out in search of subject matter to write about.

                                                             

A Day of Novelist Mr. Gubo vividly restores the daily life of Seoul in the 1930s that can only now be found in photographs. The account of Gubo’s aimless expedition around the city shows us – modern people who live repetitive, mechan...