The Remains of Civilization, the Aftermath: Wolf's Word by Kim Ujine

  • onOctober 20, 2014
  • Vol.5 Autumn 2009
  • byYi Soo-hyung
Woolf's Word

Wolf's Word by the young twenty-something author Kim Ujine who debuted in 2004, is a debut collection of nine short stories starting with the author's first published story as well as the title piece of the compilation, “Wolf 's Word,” and others like “Settlers of the Light,” “Witch,” and “Voice.” One appraisal of this debut collection lays out the core characteristics of Kim’s fiction with praise for her fresh creativity and grotesque depictions: “In a stream of short sentences, which have omitted artificial conjunctions, she amply dishes up these grotesque scenes.”

In her novels one can witness death everywhere. If humanity hopes to avoid extinction, it must connect with past generations, and through this, propagate civilization. This is the minimum requirement. Her novels are filled with the deaths of children and adults everywhere:


Violent death spreads like an infectious disease, but there is no way to identify the source of the illness or who carries it. In fact, no rhyme or reason about it can be discovered whatsoever. There are no indications or symptoms. It's like the disease is falling from heaven like some sort of bombardment.


In another scene, Kim portrays the impact of the violent deaths on people:


Public opinion boiled up to the conclusion that if the wolf disappears, violent death, too, would vanish. As soon as a tangible goal arises people become active and combative in dealing with reality. Rage becomes increasingly more vehement and a strange vigor is revived in the village. . . . Through grim determination, the mother clad in a rubber suit now looked no different from the wolf.


In “Wolf 's Word,” as the number of people suffering violent deaths without reason becomes increasingly more frequent, the remaining people engage in a desperate struggle for survival. Can they be saved from death? However, almost comically, the people who have found the cause of these violent deaths in the wolf express a madness-filled rage towards it. In terms of stopping the deaths, it is merely a powerless rage that doesn't aid them at all. Rather, this rage gives rise to irony in that it snatches their last remnants of humanity from them, making them no different from the wolf. This type of allegory appears in an enlarged form in a scene contained in “Settlers of the Light,” where pretenses used to prevent a terror attack, which no one is sure when it will occur, lead to the death of a city. The author's creativity, which is shrouded with death, reveals a concealed aspect hidden on the other side of civilization that leads to a regression of the civilization process. That truth is an uncomfortable truth, a truth that is dangerous enough to terminate civilization and turn it into ruins. One can't help but wonder about the next step of this author who is stitching together these fragments of truth.