In Search of Time Lost: Minimal Love by Jon Kyongnin

  • onOctober 26, 2014
  • Vol.18 Winter 2012
  • byPark Hyekyung
Minimal Love

Jon Kyongnin has continually depicted the abyss of love and desire between two people, and showed how this kind of relationship leaves an irrevocable scar. Her new book, Minimal Love, is written in her typically sensuous language and also delves into the pain lurking inside people’s interior lives.

After Hui-su’s mother dies and her father remarries a woman who brought her own daughter along, Hui-su, the protagonist of the novel, is haunted by a past in which she and her brother abandoned their stepsister, Yu-ran. The unfounded fear—that the seven-year-old stepsister that their stepmother brought into the family would monopolize all the love—led Hui-su to commit a terrible deed which turns into an indelible trauma, haunting her for the rest of her life. This incident becomes like a black hole that sucks all the vital energy and willpower out of her life. Little did Hui-su know that when she abandoned Yu-ran she also relinquished her own sense of self.

Until her stepmother pleads with her on her deathbed for Hui-su to look for Yu-ran, Hui-su had been going through the motions of life, going to school, getting married, and finding a job. Finally in search of Yu-ran, Hui-su sets out for a barren land where it is brutally cold; there, she finds herself in an empty room where Yu-ran used to live. Hui-su discovers how Yu-ran suffered from a unique malady of spasms of pain and excruciating headaches whenever she desired something; and upon finding this out Hui-su is inflicted with a terrible ache.

This experience is an unavoidable fate that Hui-su has to confront in order to reclaim the life that she had lost because of Yu-ran. When spring arrives, Hui-su receives a trunk that belonged to Yu-ran that has finally found its way home. Her lost life has at last been found. 

Author's Profile

Jon Kyongnin has published eleven novels, in addition to short story collections, essay collections, and fairy tales for adults. Her novel A Special Day in My Life was made into the movie Deep Loves in 2002. Jon has received the Hyundae Literary Award, Yi Sang Literary Award, and the 21st Century Literature Award. The English edition of her book I Drift on Unknown Waters in a Glass Boat was published in 2010.