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FICTION

Does Love Conquer All?: All About My Romance by Lee Eung Jun

  • onOctober 26, 2014
  • Vol.16 Summer 2012
  • byCho Yeon-jung
All About My Romance
2012
340pp.

All About My Romance by Lee Eung Jun is a novel about a unique secret romance between two politicians on opposite sides of the political spectrum. The romance between an assemblyman from the conservative political party and a member of the progressive party draws from the political circumstances in Korea yet also offers insight into the universal nature of love. Assemblyman Kim Su-young of the New Korea Party and Assemblywoman Oh So-young, leader of the Progressive Labor Party, start their ill-fated relationship during a clash between the ruling and opposition parties vis-à-vis the illegal passing of a media law; in the course of resolving the conflict, the two fall in love.

In light of the political reality in Korea where compromise and dialogue between opposing camps is completely unheard of, their romance comes off as an impossible fluke. Accordingly, their relationship is portrayed as something like an illicit affair. However, considering that the very act of falling in and out of love itself could be a common mistake, the relationship itself is not particularly special. The author does not distinguish the two characters’ relationship as noble, but rather, portrays it somewhat humorously, outright mocking the political condition in Korea as well as exploring the nature of love.

The underlying intention of this novel, however, is not to subtly criticize the state of political affairs in Korea or cheerfully point out the triteness of love. In All About My Romance, what stands out is not a popular precept of love or romance but the conventional formula of a love story. When innocent people are victimized and the daughter of her dead sister faces danger because of their relationship, Oh gives up love and politics altogether. Kim, who is at a loss at what to do, regards this love that began by chance as fate, and is saddened by its failure. The relationship, which started out playfully, develops more sincerely in the latter half of the novel. The core message is that love becomes invincible only after much hardship. 

Author's Profile

Lee Eung Jun (b.1970) is a poet and novelist. He first published a poem in the quarterly journal Literature & Criticism in 1990, and debuted as a novelist in 1994 when his short story appeared in the quarterly magazine Imagination. His published works include the poetry collection The Trees Rejected the Forest; a short story collection titled My Girlfriend’s Funeral; the novels Private Life of the Nation and All About My Romance; and the serialized novel Night CelloLemon Tree is a 40-minute long film written and directed by Lee that screened at the New York Asian American International Film Festival and at the Paris International Short Film Festival in 2008.