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An Artist Who Fails … And Fails Yet Again
What is so special about being a writer? From time to time, I get asked this question. It sounds like a run-of-the-mill question, but answering it isn’t easy. When I started off as a writer, I could afford to be evasive. But now that nearly twenty years have passed, I’ve come up with two answers to this question. The first is that writers are artists who live within overlapping time periods. Anywhere from one year to five years, Kim Takhwan the writer criss-crosses the timeline of the year he is living in and that of the novel he is working...
The Girl in Black by Bae Suah
When I was a child, Korea was like an island. A society with a thick wall of taboos, oppression, secrets, irrationality. From as far back as I can remember, I was like a child trapped inside a mirror. There was another world, a real world, on the far side of the mirror’s transparent wall, and though my gaze could reach beyond that wall, and though I could imagine all that lay there, it wasn’t something I could touch with my own two hands. I think it was probably due to growing up in such an environment that the very first...
The Girl in Black
When I was a child, Korea was like an island. A society with a thick wall of taboos, oppression, secrets, irrationality. From as far back as I can remember, I was like a child trapped inside a mirror. There was another world, a real world, on the far side of the mirror’s transparent wall, and though my gaze could reach beyond that wall, and though I could imagine all that lay there, it wasn’t something I could touch with my own two hands. I think it was probably due to growing up in such an environment that the very first...
Evening Proposal by Pyun Hye Young
Reading Pyun Hye-Young’s work has always challenged readers, beginning with her first short story collection, AOI Garden . The reader is shocked awake by the corpses, muck, and stinking reservoirs with which the stories are filled. These things evoke a horror of the time when nature violates its designated boundary and intrudes on civilization. With the publication of her second story collection, Heading for a Breeding Farm , and her first full-length novel, Ashes and Red , Pyun demonstrates a change in literary direction. What comes of this change is the new story collection, Evening Courtship . The abject images...
Hitting the Target
What is baseball? Breaking free. Focusing on that one line reaching out across the field. Finishing when you arrive. Shouts that confirm what happened. Kim Kyung-uk’s novel What Is Baseball? asks this question. Poetic. I have been a fan of Kim Kyung-uk’s novels for a long time. Since he has been writing for twenty-two years, I have been a fan for all those twenty-two years (and it has been seven years since we became friends). When a poet becomes a novelist’s fan, it means that their novels are highly poetic. At least that’s how it is in my case. To...
Please, Pyun Hye Young, Don’t Stop Walking
For a long time, Pyun Hye Young worked in an office in the city. Nowadays she works at a university teaching creative writing, but she must still be spending a lot of time in an office. I imagine that her documents and scraps of paper, dappled with her fingerprints, are piled up in a basement storeroom in a secret building, and there a shadow, having lost its body, is reading out the sentences written on the old, soggy paper. The voice of the shadow echoes along an iron staircase which runs up to the office. Pyun Hye Young likes paper...
Making the Impossible Possible by Kim Kyung-uk
A few years ago I took part in an international creative writing program held at an American university. A variety of events were planned, including public readings, and there was even an opportunity to meet students who were studying world literature. As I wrapped up my short presentation on writing novels, one student asked me what I thought were the differences between American and Korean novels. I took a moment to contemplate my answer to this unexpected question and replied, “American novels are written in English and Korean novels in Korean.” The laughter that erupted from the students surprised me...
Making the Impossible Possible
A few years ago I took part in an international creative writing program held at an American university. A variety of events were planned, including public readings, and there was even an opportunity to meet students who were studying world literature. As I wrapped up my short presentation on writing novels, one student asked me what I thought were the differences between American and Korean novels. I took a moment to contemplate my answer to this unexpected question and replied, “American novels are written in English and Korean novels in Korean.” The laughter that erupted from the students surprised me...

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