Struggling with Faith and Love: Blue, High Ladder by Gong Ji-Young

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.23 Spring 2014
  • byChoi Jaebong
Blue, High Ladder

Blue, High Ladder is the newly released novel by popular Korean writer, Gong Ji-Young, published four years after she released The Crucible (2009). The Crucible deals with the horrible sexual assault of mentally disabled young students committed by their teachers, and the conspiracy and solidarity of a self-serving group to conceal their crime. The Crucible was made into a film and caused quite a stir in Korean society.

The main character in Blue, High Ladder is Jung Yohan, a y oung Catholic monk who has finished theological school and lives in a monastery. Jung begins questioning and experiencing internal conflicts when his soul is stirred by the appearance of an attractive woman, Sohee. His fellow monk, who espouses and applies religion in social situations, influences him with numerous ideas about the fundamental goal of religion in relation to current Korean society.

Through Yohan’s struggle between religion and earthly love, the author deals with weighty topics, including religion and reality, death and redemption. As Yohan repeatedly experiences death and loss, which are difficult for him to understand, he often raises the question “Why, Lord?” In the story, the suggested answer to this question is, “Love means to love even that which does not reciprocate!” This nihilistic answer is Gong Ji-Young’s own voice, a result of her long-standing humanistic and religious conflicts from having returned to her Catholic roots.  

Author's Profile

Gong Ji-Young has received the Amnesty International Special Media Award, Catholic Literature Award, and the Yi Sang Literary Award. Her best-known works include Our Happy Time, The Crucible, and My Sister, Bongsoon. Her books in translation include Our Happy Time (Atria Books/Marble Arch Press, 2014), Nos Jours Heureux (Philippe Picquier, 2014), L'échelle de Jacob (Philippe Picquier, 2016), and Ma très chère grande soeur (Philippe Picquier, 2018).