Shamanism in the Fiction of Hwang Sun-Won
- onDecember 22, 2015
- Vol.30 Winter 2015
- byHwang Sun-Won
An overview of Hwang Sun-Won’s fiction
Hwang Sun-Won (1915-2000) is one of the great Korean authors of the twentieth century. Hwang started writing in 1931, publishing his first poem, “My Dream,” at the age of sixteen, and by June 1936, he had published two volumes of poetry. But with the publication of a collection of short stories in 1937, he started anew as a writer of fiction. Since that time, immersing himself in the writing of fiction for over fifty years, Hwang managed to avoid being caught up in fashions of the times and stayed consistently true to the course of literature, creating his own distinctive fictional universe. During this period, he released 104 short stories, seven novels, and one novella.
In his early period as a writer, Hwang usually depicted folk customs in his works. He devoted himself to the sensuous description of human interiority, and showed great affection for sentiments native to Korea and the people’s traditional spirit. Traditional farm towns or mountain villages serve as the stage for stories of the kind described above, stories such as “Cock Ritual” (1938), “Stars” (1940), “Children of the Mountain Village” (1940), and “Serenade” (1943), in which Hwang portrays the lives of poor yet simple people, and the beauty of their powerful, primal will to live.
After 1950, Hwang sought to portray the ideal of mother love through a variety of female characters. In stories such as “Cranes” (1953) and “Rain Shower” (1953), his short fiction reached full maturity. Meanwhile, in great novels such as Living with the Stars (1950), The Descendants of Cain (1954), Trees on a Slope (1960), Sunlight, Moonlight (1962), and The Moving Fortress (1973), he explored in great depth the question of eternity and the problem of existential solitude and alienation.
Shamanism in Hwang’s fiction