[Web Exclusive] KLN at TEN: Interviews with Writers
- onOctober 2, 2018
- Vol.41 Autumn 2018
- byKorean Literature Now
KLN: Your story “While They Laughed” portrays a distinctively unfunny part of life. Could you tell us more about it?
Yoon: I wrote “While They Laughed” about 10 years ago. I can’t even imagine how it would read in another language. I do wonder what people will read it, that’s a nice kind of wondering. Before writing this story, I wrote a story called “What If.” It was about four high school girls on their graduation trip who all die and become ghosts. When I was writing that I knew I wanted to write a companion piece with boys. And then I heard a story about somebody going to the movies and stealing a sofa. That along with the desire I already had to write a companion piece to “What If” gave me the impetus to write this story. While I was writing it, I was determined to make the characters laugh at the end because during the story they go through such sadness. That’s why the title became, “While They Laughed.”
KLN: What do you think distinguishes Korean literature from that of other countries?
Yoon: I’ve been thinking a lot about the sadness of others, how far writers are capable of understanding and writing about it. That’s doubly true since we as a country experienced a collective sadness. These days I’m thinking, I need to be more careful, I need to think more about this when it comes to the sadness of others.
Jung Young Su
KLN: What does writing fiction mean to you, and how was “Traces of Summer” written?
Jung: When I write, the book is never the result, it’s a means of pursuing a train of thought. So I’m not the type to have everything thought out beforehand. For me, writing means sitting down and starting to think. For instance, when I wrote “Traces of Summer” I only had the image of coming face to face with a strange, ancient creature at the natural history museum. Then there came the scene with the ex-wife, and then I just ran with it from there. The ending turned out completely different from what I thought in the beginning. I enjoy this way of working and for now it’s the only way to write for me.