Author: PAK Kyongni
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About This Book
A novelist noted for her sharply critical eye and panoramic perspective, PAK
Kyongni (1926~) is a survivor of the Korean War during which she lost many loved
ones including her husband. PAK began her life as a writer with the publication
of two short stories, Calculations and Black is Black, White is White. She has
since received numerous literary prizes, including the Woltan Literature Award
PAK is best known for the multi-volume novel Land, a monumental epic in five parts that weaves shifting fortunes of a single clan into the turbulent history of modern Korea. The work begins during the final days of Joseon Dynasty and ends with Korea's liberation from the Japanese rule; the narrative follows four generations of the Choi clan, a family of wealthy landowners in Hadong region of South Gyeongsang Province, who become witness to the cataclysmic changes in Korean society, from the dissolution of the traditional sociopolitical hierarchy and family system and the influx of Western materialism, to the reality of colonial domination and concomitant struggle for independence. Underlying the work's grand scale and acute historical awareness is fundamental affirmation of life. Land, invoking the double image of womb and tomb, embraces human suffering and gestures toward healing. PAK Kyongni's ability to keep in sight both the minute and the grand, to relate events of personal importance to the national context in which they occur and to intimate a philosophical insight regarding human nature itself, has made Land a modern classic.
PAK Kyongni's interest in ordinary lives of individuals living through an extraordinary age can be seen in her earlier work as well. A notable feature of PAK's fiction from the 1950s is the employment of female protagonist who has been widowed during the Korean War. The Age of Distrust, The Road without Guidepost, and The Age of Darkness all probe the deep scars left by the war on Korean society through the eyes of the women bereft of their husbands as well as material and spiritual support. The pervasive climate of loneliness and uncertainty after the war is poignantly captured in her novel Drifting Island. The novel's depiction of the psychological wanderings of a lonely woman trapped in hardships of life provides a powerful indictment of post-war Korean society at large.
*** Pak passed away on May 5, 2008.
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