- Han Yujoo
Surprisingly, the key inside the Child’s pocket might remain undetected. If she is interrogated as to why she is in possession of an unfamiliar key, she has rehearsed several answers: her homeroom teacher sent her to make an extra copy of the classroom key; the class monitor must keep the extra key; she found the key on the street. But the Child must first provide an excuse for something else. An excuse for why her spoon and chopsticks haven’t been used when the lunch containers are completely empty; licked clean. And she does. She manages to invent an excuse on the spot.
Some of the best horror stories have placed tormented, and tormenting, children at their heart, from Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw to Stephen King’s Carrie. While Han Yujoo’s spare, spellbinding first novel is not a classic tale of demon possession, Han interrogates the innocence of childhood, deconstructing the child-monster by implicating the rest of society in the book’s central, murderous act.
The Impossible Fairytale is told in two parts. The first part largely deals with an abused child’s diary. The second part is presented as the diary of the writer of this book. In the first part, Choi Mi-ah is killed by a classmate (in Korean, “mi-ah” means “lost child”). In the second part, the child who is presumed to be Mi-ah’s killer comes to the writer and asks, “Who am I?” The only answer the writer gives is, “The child killed Mi-ah. Mi-ah’s death was planned—that is, it was there in my notes from the beginning.
Few Korean literary writers since the turn of the century rival Han Yujoo in her deep awareness of writing. In the 1980s there was great interest in Korean literature that explored reality, and in the 1990s it was people’s interior lives, and since the 2000s, there has been a diversifying interest in literature itself. This is demonstrated in the negotiations between pop culture and literature, experiments in faction (fact + fiction), studies in social conditions and customs, and the political nature of the non-political, among others.