A Thin Line Between Good and Evil: Pet’s Paradise by Kim Najeong

  • onOctober 20, 2014
  • Vol.6 Winter 2009
  • byKo Mihye
Pet's Paradise

Pet’s Paradise is the first short story collection by a promising young writer, Kim Najeong, who debuted in 2003. The collection of nine stories, including her debut work, “The Fifth Beatle,” features her style of dry humor in stories structured around philosophical questions of good and evil.

One common theme among several of the stories in the collection is that of “the thin line between good and evil” or “cruelty disguised as goodwill.” In the unusually titled story, “<< >>,” Gwalho (bracket), a vocational student, finds a strange woman dressed in white who has collapsed on the street one Christmas night. Even after he wakes her, the woman cannot get up, and Gwalho does not have a cell phone to call an ambulance. So instead he carries the woman on his back and puts her in his basement. There, Gwalho feeds and clothes her while also satisfying his own sexual urges with her. He justifies this by saying that he has saved her life. Likewise in “The Fifth Beatle,” a man takes home a young girl who had been abandoned at a train station then sexually abuses her, all the while believing that he has done a good thing by giving her food and shelter. The gravity of the themes addressed in Kim’s stories demonstrates the maturity of her skills as a writer, despite her being new to the literary scene.

“One Turn Around the Neighborhood, Baduki?” is an intriguing work that likewise reveals Kim’s unique writing style. A crafty take on a narrative that borrows the form of a chain letter, this story is a delightful form of metafiction that explores the birth of a story and writing itself.