Ordinary Miracles: Spectators by Yoon Sunghee

  • onOctober 23, 2014
  • Vol.10 Winter 2010
  • byJung Yeo-ul

An increasingly large number of people are living alone in Korea. There are more lonely souls than ever who live alone, eat alone, sleep alone, and die alone. These people are increasingly alienated from their roots and the family unit. A scant few decades ago it was common to see three generations under the same roof in Korea; now the concept of family itself is being challenged. Yoon Sunghee shows exceptional perception in examining the history and meaning of family in a Korean society that is slowly being forgotten.

Spectators tells the story of a boy who miraculously survives three near-death experiences while also exploring how the eight members his family have a profound effect on each other’s lives. The boy wonders how he, not being particularly brave, industrious, or selfless, was allowed to defy death on not one but three extraordinary occasions. His miraculous survival, however, is not due to personal luck but thanks to the efforts of his family and all the members of society who interact with them. The boy himself may not look special at all, but the stories of his family members are. It is their stories that make this noteworthy as well.

Yoon Sunghee’s writing focuses not on the grand miracles that happen to extraordinary people, but the everyday miracles that happen to ordinary people. Spectators shows what a remarkable amount of history lies behind the birth and life of an ordinary boy, and the amount of love and miracles needed to make that happen. The small but precious miracles that go unnoticed every day are lovingly depicted in this novel. 

Author's Profile

Yoon Sunghee has written five short story collections and one novel. She has received the Today’s Young Artists Award, Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award, Hwang Sun-Won Literary Award, and Hyundae Literary Award. Her book Spectators is currently being translated into Chinese and Spanish.