I didn’t plan to write Brier Rose. At the time, all I wanted to do was go on a long trip or an adventure. I was waiting for something, an adventure that I could throw myself into wholeheartedly—the kind that would find me wading through swamps with leeches sucking the blood from my thighs and chest, after which I would get lost in a deserted grassland, and when I finally threw off my soiled clothing, a few dried-out leeches would fall out. I wanted to spend the winter in Harbin or Jiandao, the temperature below minus 30 degrees Celsius cutting into my flabby body. Finally I got my wish and found myself in Shenyang, China.
There, at a foot massage parlor, I met a small woman. I later called her Soso in my book. Soso introduced herself as Joseonjok (Korean ethnic minority in China). That was a lie, however. After a while Soso told me how she had been trafficked from her hometown in North Korea to a remote Chinese village. I was shocked to learn that her defection was not her choice, but that she had been trafficked against her will.
And with this I came face to face with humanity. Inside the people I met, I saw landscapes and scars, hypocrisy and treachery, jealousy and madness, purity and baseness, excess and deprivation, sadness and joy, chaos and purpose, desire and prostitution, truth and falsity.