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[Foreword] A Time for Recovery (or in Anticipation Thereof)

  • onMarch 25, 2021
  • byKang Young-sook

Not long ago, I received an email from Jane Neilson, instructor at the Open House Senior Center in El Cerrito, California, with whom I had become good friends during my time at UC Berkeley when I took part in the Daesan-Berkeley Writer-in-Residence program. We exchanged New Year’s greetings and updated each other about our lives as we recalled the more memorable events of the past year. In one of her subsequent emails, Jane told me about a conversation she had with the owner of a seafood shop she frequented. Her takeaway from the conversation was that, even in the midst of the pandemic-induced isolation and confinement that characterized all of last year, we humans somehow managed to survive, demonstrating tremendous resilience. Reading her words, I thought how much of a relief that would be if it were true.

In that spirit, we bring you KLN’s first issue of 2021 in the hopes of shedding the pain of last year. In this spring issue, we feature a Special Section on disasters, with particular emphasis on stories by young authors that offer a glimpse into the disaster narratives found throughout Korean literature. The critic Lee Eun-ji discusses the fiction of Pyun Hye-young, Choi Eunmi, and Yun Ko-eun. Lee’s understanding of disasters as cascading, domino-like chain reactions rather than as sudden, out-of-the-blue events is timely and appropriate.

In our Featured Writer section, poet Emily Jungmin Yoon interviews Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, author of the graphic novel Grass and recipient of the Harvey Award, recognized as the comics industry’s equivalent of an Academy Award. Translated by Janet Hong, Grass is a story about a woman forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. Our other featured writer for this issue is Choi Jin-young. She is interviewed by Soje, who translated her novel, To the Warm Horizon. The conversation offers an intimate look into the life and work of Choi, a prolific author who attracts many contemporary readers.

Our Inkstone series focusing on classical Korean literature heads into its second season with two new essays on the traditional music of pansori and the concept of deities in Korean folklore.

The Bookmark section features a short story by Park Seolyeon. Park’s characteristically buoyant, enthusiastic tone provides a telling peek into the future of Korean literature.

After all is said and done, what’s certain is that we readers of KLN and devotees of Korean literature are connected in spirit through our love of literature and language.
I hope that today’s trying time passes soon, so that we may all embrace a time of recovery.

 

Kang Young-sook
Writer, KLN Editorial Advisor
 
Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim