Love for Survivors: Dialogue of the Forest by Jeong Ji A

  • onOctober 27, 2014
  • Vol.20 Summer 2013
  • byJung Yeo-ul
Dialogue of the Forest

In her new collection of short stories, Jeong Jia writes warm depictions about people who barely manage to survive on a daily basis. While they are trying their best, they’re still far from achieving their dreams. Even though her characters endure each day with great effort, they have an inner light that no one can extinguish.

All of Jeong’s characters live their lives burdened with serious conflicts and unbearable pain, but they do not give up their hope of someday being accepted and understood. Jeong does not write about those who strive for success and recognition in life but on the subject of humble people that live their lives with dignity and integrity.

In “The Key to Heaven,” the protagonist is a severely handicapped person but even so she not only looks after her alcoholic father but also her neighbor, who is physically abused by her husband. “Spring Afternoon, Three Widows” introduces three old women reminiscing over their past; they still call each other by their names from the Japanese colonial period: Eiko, Haruko, and Sadako. “Dialogue of the Forest” is about the heartbreaking unrequited love of a man for his wife who lived all her life unable to forget her first love, a son from a wealthy family who left to become a freedom fighter. “Bravo, Lucky Life” is a story about a mother and father who refuse to give up nurturing their son who is in a coma after a car accident. “Bloodline” is about a father-in-law who is glad about the birth of his grandson by his Vietnamese daughter-in-law, yet has a difficult time coming to terms with the baby’s dark complexion. “Public Bathhouse Day” is a heartfelt story about an old mother, who has sacrificed her life for her children, and her very first visit to the public bathhouse with her two daughters. “Haehwadong Intersection” tells the story of a friendship between Park who worked in the U.S. Army right after the Korean War, and Choi who was a freedom fighter, along with Kim, who is a student of Park’s, and their half-century long relationship. “Climax,” delineates the desperate struggling of the main character, Kim, who is a homeless person struggle not to remain as one for the rest of his life. 

Author's Profile

Jeong Ji A is a writer. Born in Gurye, South Jeolla Province in 1965, she began her literary career in 1990 when she published her novel The Daughter of a North Korean Partisan (in three volumes) based on the life of her parents. Her short story “Lotus-Persimmon Tree” won the Chosun Ilbo New Writer’s Contest in 1996. She is the author of the short story collections HappinessSpring Scenery, and Dialogue of the Forest.