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FICTION

Dreams of a Romantic Escape: Lingerie Girls’ Generation by Kim Yong-hui

  • onOctober 20, 2014
  • Vol.4 Summer 2009
  • byJung Yeo-ul
Lingerie Girls' Generation
2009
316pp.

The two most popular outlets for girls in the late 1970s were dating and literature. The traces of sentiments characteristic of young girls who like to daydream in class are found throughout cultural magazines and popular songs of the era. These girls are caught leaving the movie theatre with boys, and pine over upperclassmen they fall in love with at first sight. The protagonist of Lingerie Girls’ Generation, Yi Jeonghee, is the second daughter of a family that runs a toy factory in Daegu. Living in a time and society ruled by military tyranny, the girls endlessly nurture dreams of a romantic escape from school, exams, and patronizing teachers.

One day, a girl with a fair complexion, Hyeju, transfers to Jeonghee’s school and becomes her classmate. With her lovely Seoul accent and cultured air, Hyeju instantly becomes popular among teachers and classmates. Her friends are both jealous and envious of her. Jeonghee and Hyeju become close friends that make beautiful memories together. However, when Jeonghee’s crush becomes close to Hyeju, Jeonghee becomes terribly jealous to the brink of despair. However, Jeonghee feels great guilt when she inadvertantly neglects to save Hyeju from danger. She struggles with enormous guilt:

 

For a young girl, there is a difference between becoming an adult and becoming a woman. A girl turns into a woman within the boundaries of lectures and restraints. If one tries to free oneself from these lectures and restraints, one falls into a dark lake one can’t escape from. They aren’t given the voice to denounce the unjust violence of life. … Beautiful, good things are easily demeaned. Is it because beautiful, good things are too extravagant for life?

 

Those who spent their high school years at the end of the 1970s may be nostalgic for the poverty-stricken, yet truly innocent times. Kim Yong-hui’s Lingerie Girls’ Generation follows the journey of a girl who spends her high school years at the end of the 1970s. Different from the chick lit genre that is growing in popularity, this book creates an innovative style by evoking memories of the past rather than focusing on the latest trends.