Scenes from Sonagi Village - Spring to Fall, 2015

  • onDecember 22, 2015
  • Vol.30 Winter 2015
  • byHwang Sun-Won

Sonagi Village

Sonagi Village has been visited by over 100,000 guests since its doors first opened on June 13th, 2009. After the author Hwang Sun-Won passed away on September 15th, 2000, professors of literature and Hwang’s former students sought to create a cultural space for the nation to be able to share Hwang’s literature with as many people as possible. It was then that they chose a particular line from “Rain Shower” (Sonagi): “The girl was to move to Yangpyeong-eup tomorrow.” In 2003, a partnership between Yangpyeong-gun and Kyung Hee University paved the way for the creation of Sonagi Village.


Recalling One’s First Love – Centennial Anniversary Events

The 100th anniversary of Hwang Sun-Won’s birth was celebrated with a variety of events throughout 2015. The first events of many planned for the year were the “Saturday First Love” concerts. From March through May, a “Literature Night” was held on the last Saturday of each month in the Hwang Sun-Won Literary Center Assembly Hall. Newscaster Grace Pyeon (Pyeon Sojeong) was the emcee for these events, which included deeply-felt poetry readings by the poets Jeong Ho-seung and Choi Myeong-ran, as well as the dulcet tones of a saxophone performance from Son Hyeong-ok, the grand voice of the tenor Choi Yong-ho, and a subtle performance by the guitarist Kim Yeong-su.

The second event was the “Writing a Sequel to ‘Rain Shower.’” Five selected short stories written by Kyung Hee University alumni—Jeon Sang-guk, Park Deok-gyu, Lee Hye-gyeong, Seo Hajin, and Gu Byeong-mo—were published in the summer edition of the quarterly magazine, Daesan Munhak. The authors used their imaginations to create continuations of Hwang’s classic, “Rain Shower.” Jeong Sang-guk’s version, “Harvest,” shows the young protagonist, now in middle school, unable to forget the young girl as he navigates the growing pains that come with puberty. Park Deok-gyu presented “A Person’s Star” which portrays the young girl as a being from another world and shows her travels in the land of stars through a first person monologue. Lee Hye-gyeong brought to life a story where the boy has grown into a young man of the 21st century and is living the life of a laborer in the city all the while keeping alive the memory of the little girl in her piece, “That Uneraseable Muddy Water.” In Seo Hajin’s story “Another Cloudburst,” three years after the girl has passed away, the boy meets another student who resembles her. Gu Byeong-mo wrote his story “Disturbance” about the boy putting the jacket back on that he wore with the girl and going out to the river again a few days after she dies.

The third event commenced with the publication of the five authors’ homages with the opening of the “Writing a Sequel to ‘Rain Shower’ Contest” for all lovers of literature in the month of June. The contest was held for the dual purposes of expanding Hwang Sun-Won’s literature to the public and instilling his literary spirit. There were 121 entrants in the high school division and 195 entrants in the regular division. The judges emphasized that they were looking for “sequels” which had both a sense of continuation from the original, and yet also maintained merit as independent stories.


Drawing One’s Father – 4th Annual Hwang Sun- Won Cyber Writing Contest

The “Hwang Sun-Won Cyber Writing Contest” this year was held for essays, accepting submissions for the duration of May. The contest was part of the 12th Annual Hwang Sun-Won Literary Festival, but it took place four months ahead of the festival which was held in September. The topic for this year’s Cyber Writing Contest was “Father.” There were 227 participants, and with May as “Family Month” in Korea, “Memories of Father” came to mind as writing on this topic allowed contestants to reflect upon the beginning of their lives.


Raising the Curtain on 12th Annual Hwang Sun- Won Literary Festival

On September 11th, 2015, under the banner of “Celebrating 100 Years Since the Birth of Hwang Sun-Won,” a seminar shedding new light on “Hwang Sun-Won’s Life and Literature” was held in the third floor assembly hall at the Sonagi literature center. After watching a video of a condensed overview of the author’s life and work, the president of the Hwang Sun-Won Memorial Society, Park Yi-do, gave a few words of welcome followed by the keynote speech from former president of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, Kim Joo Youn. The first presentation was by Yonsei University professor Jeong Gwa-ri titled, “Elements of ‘Advanced-ness’ in Hwang Sun-Won’s poetry from the 1930s.” The second presentation, by Kyung Hee University professor Baek Jiyeon, was on the topic of “A Story’s Prospect: Focusing on Hwang Sun-Won’s Living with the Stars, and the final presentation was given by professor Kim Chunsik from Dongguk University, titled “Hwang Sun- Won’s Poetry and Exchange Studies in Tokyo.” A group discussion followed as researchers gave their opinions on Hwang’s short form poetry from the 1930s and the possible influences from Japanese haiku and American or European Surrealism or Imagism.


Sonagi Village Literature Prize – 4th Sonagi Village Literature Prize Awards Ceremony

On September 11th, around 100 guests gathered in the third floor assembly hall for the 4th Sonagi Village Literature Prize Awards Ceremony, hosted by the poet Kim Ki-taek. The 20 million won “Hwang Sun- Won Literature Research Prize” was presented to Korea University professor Choi Dongho for his book, Study of the Man Hwang Sun-Won and His Literature. Choi’s book shows a new understanding of the author through the sincerity in his research of Hwang’s human side, his relationship with his wife and the literary world, creating imagined conversations with the author, and discovering new examples of his poetry from the 1930s. The “Hwang Sun-Won Literature Prize” was awarded to the author Gu Byeong-mo for his novel, I Pray That Thing Is Not Me. The winning work captures the moment when everyday normalcy ruptures, showing a unique imagination and attractive literary approach.


Literature and Drawing Contests for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students and 15th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony

The highlight of the 12th Annual Hwang Sun-Won Literary Festival was the writing and drawing contest on September 12th for Elementary, Middle, and High School students. The subject for the writing contest was “Stain,” and the subject for the drawing contest was “Walnut.” After the topics were announced, the entrants could be seen scattered all over Sonagi Village working intently on their creations.

Later that morning, Hwang Sun-Won’s surviving family, close friends, and literary figures gathered in front of his grave to observe a moment of silence and then perform a memorial ceremony honoring the fifteenth year of his passing.

The deadline for the students’ work was signaled in the early afternoon by a shower from a man-made cloudburst machine before activities continued with two hours of lectures and performances. The team from the “Saturday First Love” concerts was on hand for tranquil poetry recitations set to music as the beautiful playing of the Hanyang Elementary School Junior Orchestra flooded Sonagi Village. When the performance ended in the late afternoon, the day was completed in a lively fashion with awards given to the winners of the writing and drawing contests.


A Walk Under the Blue Autumn Sky – 6th Annual Literary Village Tour with writers

On Sunday, September 13th, the 6th “Annual Literary Village Tour with writers,” was held as the final event on the last day of the literary festival. The Village Tour started in the morning with around twenty participants including two authors and two critics split into three teams that set to explore both inside the literature center and the surrounding Sonagi Village.

Beneath the clear autumn sun, participants shared food and conversation then gathered in front of the literature center to take a group photo. Once the photo was taken, the man-made cloudburst machine was turned on and a fountain of water was shot meters into the air to rain down on the Sonagi Plaza. The 2015 “Celebrating 100 Years Since the Birth of Hwang Sun-Won,” and 12th Annual Hwang Sun-Won Literary Festival came to a poetic end in the harmony of nature and the man-made, under the warm sun and a vibrant rainbow. 


by Oh Taeho
Literary Critic