[Web Exclusive] Interview with Kim Soom: The Power of the Damaged to Overcome Themselves

  • onSeptember 1, 2019
  • byKorean Literature Now


KLN: What are you going to talk about at the Göteborg Book Fair 2019?

Kim: It’s a pleasure for me to accompany some of my favorite Korean writers. At the book fair, I’d like to discuss gender and labor issues. I wrote a novel about a temporary female subcontractor working at a shipyard. The story shows discrimination between permanent and temporary employees at the shipyard. From my interviews, I discovered that there was further discrimination between male and female temporary workers. I’d like to talk about this issue in more detail.


KLN: Did You Ever Dream a Soldier Would Become an Angel? is a testimonial novel about an elderly woman named Kil Won-ok, a survivor of the Japanese military sexual slavery. Why have you chosen this particular work for the Göteborg Book Fair?

Kim: Kil Won-ok is now 93 years old. She was 13 when she was forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military, and although she survived, she’s lived a distorted life ever since. Yet, she refused to surrender and restored her damaged dignity and human rights. Many women these days are exposed to sexual violence in daily life, and admirable Kil Won-ok continues her effort to restore their human rights. Through this novel, I hope to share her wisdom with readers worldwide.


KLN: How do you feel about meeting international readers?

Kim: When I meet readers with different identities and languages, I come away with new inspirations. It expands my mind and perspective. I very much look forward to another such experience.


English subtitles translated by Helen Cho