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FICTION

Desire Most Undesirable: Since You Left Me by Choi Ihn Suk

  • onOctober 23, 2014
  • Vol.11 Spring 2011
  • byShin Junebong
Since You Left Me
2010
352pp.

This is the author's ninth published novel. Contrary to the impression given by the title, this book is a story of the ups and downs between two people with diametrically opposite personalities and values, and how they come to find mutual understanding and true love. This novel contains social criticism about the amplified desires and illusions propagated by capitalism, which leads the two main characters toward conflict and disagreement.

The male protagonist, Jun-sung, is strongly anti-capitalist. Disgusted by the materialistic world, he quits his job. In accordance with his belief that all intellectual property should be shared, he joins a hacker group and becomes active. During this period he suddenly meets Seo-jin, a cable shopping channel lingerie model in her early 20s. Although she used to dream of becoming a star whose every move would be fawned over by the public, she has instead become a third-rate model addicted to buying designer goods.

As expected, the unlikely and mismatched twosome of Jun-sung and Seo Jin causes lots of trouble. Due to her reckless shopping, Seo-jin's credit card balances have snowballed, putting her on the verge of bankruptcy. Nevertheless, she is still unable to let go of her dreams of becoming a star, and suddenly flies off to Hong Kong to shoot a commercial. She even gets arrested by the police when her past drug use with a film director is discovered many years after the fact.

The plot is anchored by Jun-sung's steady love for Seo-jin, despite myriad difficulties. Jun-sung also happens to be a screenwriter, and in his new script he pursues the dual themes of anti-capitalism and the possibility of pure love, alternating between the two. Author Choi Ihn Suk's trademark is his ability to captivate readers, and I found myself having difficulty pulling myself away from my desk while reading Since You Left Me.