Part1. North Korean Defectors in Fiction - Drawing a Map of Sadness by Jeong Do-sang

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 wholeheartedlythe 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.

     With Brier Rose’s Chung-sim, I wanted to depict a protagonist whose body mapped out the course of her existence. However the task was not as straightforward as I had anticipated. With each sentence I wrote, I would take glimpses at the landscape outside the sentence and then ...

Since 1987, Jeong Do-sang’s (b. 1960) works have relentlessly explored the organizational violence and social mechanisms that suppress free will and the conditions of life. He won the Yosan Literary Award and the Beautiful Writer Award in 2008 for his serial novel Brier Rose.