Descartes's Descendants: The Novels of Bae Myung-hoon and Kim Bo-young
- onNovember 2, 2014
- Vol.20 Summer 2013
- byBae Myung-hoon
In the Korean literary scene where realism has traditionally dominated, science fiction was, in both quantity and quality, relatively underrepresented. Moreover, at times science fiction was not recognized as literature and cherished only by a small fan base.
In the 2000s, a trend began in the Korean literary scene: the active exploration of fantasy and the future. These explorations led to discoveries of a new reality. A new generation of writers started traversing the line between the fantastic and the real, intermixing elements from realism and fantasy. In novels, protagonists that were aliens, zombies, clones, and "pseudo-human[s]" began appearing. These creatures problematized the humanistic value system and humanity as a race. The settings of these works escaped the familiar reality and expanded into a computer-generated virtual reality, outer space, and post-apocalyptic worlds.
In the midst of these changes and developments, science fiction entered into Korean fiction. In addition, readers and literary critics focused more attention on this genre. The young writers who have received the most attention are undoubtedly Bae Myung-hoon and Kim Bo-young. These two authors write science fiction, but their works also span broadly over the genres of fantasy, children's literature, and detective novels. Nonetheless, the majority of their works, and the ones that received the most attention, are science fiction.
Bae caught the world’s attention with the book Tower (2009) and the short story collection Hello, The Artificial Being! (2010). In subsequent years, he consecutively published the science fiction novel Divine Orbit (2011) and Sir Chancellor (2012), a novel with elements of science fiction.
On her part, Kim simultaneously published two collections of sci-fi short stories, Distant Tales and An Evolutionary Myth (2010), and she recently reemerged with Seven Executors (2013), a novel with elements from mythology, eschatology, science fiction, and Chinese martial arts literature.
Bae is prominently recognized as a writer in the Korean literary scene where realism reigns; Kim has received a strong show of support from science fiction readers. In this article, the works of these two writers will be explored.
Bae Myung-hoon: An Experiment on Being
Bae Myung-hoon is a young writer that has demonstrated the literary potential of science fiction in Korean literature through the work Tower (2009) and the short collection Hello, The Artificial Being! (2010). The strength of Bae's work lies in his clear and uncomplicated narrative style, witty and ingenious ideas and cognitive supposition, characters with distinct personalities, and his exploration into the ethical side of human relations.