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FICTION

Romance, Beyond Chance: Raising Swallows by Youn Dae-Nyeong

  • onOctober 20, 2014
  • Vol.1 Autumn 2008
  • byJung Yeo-ul
Raising Swallows
2007
319pp.

Youn Dae-Nyeong is adept at weaving tales about romance. There is no doubt that he has been one of the top three Korean romance writers in the past twenty years. Yoon used to create romantic stories in faraway settings, always through a dramatic encounter with a total stranger rather than someone encountered in everyday life. Romance, for Youn, is a myth that goes beyond everyday life, and love is a denial of fate.

While Youn’s previous romance novels focused on the mysterious power of karma, Raising Swallows relies on the broader idea of a “meeting” rather than the narrow category of “romance.” While romance involves an attempt to capture the most enchanting moment, Youn’s attention is now placed on the yearning for eternal relationships that transcend the mundane world. The novel investigates how fated encounters work, even without going through social customs such as marriage. Dating, whose final destination is supposed to be marriage, is a relativist world where a sense of fear about parting prevails. Once such social restrictions are gone, a human-to-human encounter can be an absolute world where people do not control either sex or parting. Unlike his previous novels that revolved around a couple, Raising Swallows gives weighty significance to all the characters. In fact, the most ideal speaker of Youn’s previous novels was a man stuck with a lethal yet beautiful romance. Now, Youn’s new male protagonists are no longer impatient in their quest for love. They are now patient enough to listen to, say, a monologue by a grandmotherly figure, without any preconceptions. His past male protagonists used their lips to express their desires; his new male characters use their ears to listen to others attentively, which is a wise and welcome change. 

Author's Profile

Youn Dae-Nyeong was born in 1962 in Yesan, South Chungcheong Province. He made his debut in 1990 by winning the New Writer Award sponsored by the monthly Munhak Sasang (Literary Thought). The recipient of Today’s Young Artist Award (1994), Yi Sang Literary Award (1996), Modern Literature Prize (1998), and Yi Hyo-seok Literary Award (2003), he has written the short story collections Sweetfish Fishing ReportsBehold the Southern StairsMany Stars Drifted to One Place, and There Walks Someone; essay collections Things I Want to Tell Her and Mother’s Spoon and Chopsticks; and novels I Went to See an Old MovieMi-ranA Traveler in the Snow, and Why Did the Tiger Go to the Sea?