An Ode to the Wounded: I'll be Right There by Shin Kyung-sook
- onOctober 23, 2014
- Vol.9 Autumn 2010
- byKang Gyesook
- I'll be Right There
Tr. Sora Kim-Russell 2014336pp.
Youth is beautiful because it is a past from which we cannot return. But the irreversibility of time is not the reason we remember youth so fondly. It is rather all the firsts we experience in the process of becoming adults and the tantalizing excitement or detrimental unfamiliarity associated with new experiences. Youth is also a paradoxical time governed by a brilliant darkness. Gestures of passionate love, the unbearable pain of breakups, scars from betrayals, coping with unexpected deaths, and other incidents all make up the history of youth. Unchecked passion, embarrassing mishaps, and irrevocable mistakes are carved into this history, so it is difficult to look back on those days without regret and wistfulness.
Shin Kyung-sook’s first book since Please Look After Mom, which sold 1.4 million copies, I'll be Right There, is a characteristically sophisticated and even portrait of the days of youth one cannot look back on without bracing oneself. For the main characters, Yun, Miru, Myeong-seo, and Dan, the age of 20 is a time when the sordidness of real life manifests itself in the form of unreasonable violence and leaves deep cuts in their souls. They depend on each other, lend each other a shoulder to cry on, and push on forward through the darkness of life. Their sincere friendships and warm compassion give them the strength to survive the dark times when the influence of autocratic rule reached every nook and cranny of life. Armed with sincerity, they pulled through their youth. But the innocence of youth cannot help but remain powerless in the face of reality. Contrary to their wishes, their lives continue down a forlorn, tragic path. Written in the form of retracing the source of scars through recollections, this novel narrates the meaning of growing up and the significance of the hope and sadness associated with it.