Park Kyung-Ri was born in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do Province in 1926 and died in Wonju, Gangwon-do Province in 2008. Park studied at Jinju Girls’ High School and went on to teach at many different schools. She was at Yeonan Girls’ Middle School in Hwanghae-do Province when the Korean War broke out in 1950. Her husband died in the war.
After the war, she devoted her life to her writing. She made her debut by publishing a short story in Hyundae Munhak at the recommendation of Kim Tong-ni, a prominent Korean writer.
Park Kyung-Ri’s representative work, Land, is an in-depth portrayal of the relationship between the fates of people from various classes and times as Korea went from a feudal monarchy to a Japanese colony. Land became part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works. Her novel has thus been critically acclaimed both in Korea and abroad.
The novel starts out in a small village called Pyeongsa-ri, then spans all over the Korean peninsula, and reaches out to Northern China and Japan, boasting a vast expanse. Land is a social drama and a family tragedy encompassing a series of events that involves several hundreds of characters.
Park also taught at Yonsei University as a visiting professor and an endowed chair. Her work contained criticism on the paradoxes and incongruities of society, but largely embodied the ideals of coexistence between living things, great mercy and compassion from Buddhism, freedom of existence, and equality. It shared philosophical grounds with her son-in-law Kim Ji-ha’s “Thoughts about Life,” which advocates for the importance of life and living things. A memorial park was built in her honor in Wonju where she lived for over 20 years, and there is a literary museum devoted to her in Tongyeong, the place she was born and is buried.