Author: Nym Wales, Kim San
Translator: Young-in Song
Hardcover | 512 pages | 197*137mm
|Important! Please read before you order!|
|>>>This book is written in Korean only.|
About This Book
My review title reflects my own experience in Korean society during the 1980s as
a college student. At that time, the Korean translation of this book 'Ariran'
(actually, the correct Korean sound is 'Arirang') was read among many Korean
college students in addition to the biography of Cheon Tae-Il, a young worker
who self-immolated in 1970 protesting against the harsh working condition and
the poor treatment of factory workers by employers and the military regime.
These books' consciousness-awakening influence may have been like that of
Marcuse in the US during the 1960s and 70s or that of Howard Zinn now, and they
are still being read in Korea.
Many college students awakened by their modern history's agony and workers' poor condition just dropped out of school and went to factories and other sites for engaging in or organizing social movements for progress and emancipation, which people now call 'democratization' in a more or less technical way.
Actually, this book was published in 1941 in the US by a prominent American woman journalist, Nym Wales, who went to China for the purpose of writing newspaper articles and interviewing the leaders of Chinese revolution with then her husband, Edgar Snow, who was the author of a well-known book, the Red Stars of Chinese Revolution.
If you read this beautifully written book 'Ariran'(actually, Arirang is more corrent in terms of pronunciation, which means somebody who is loved and missed so much according to a general interpretation of the term, or a lost country by imperialism according to a more political interpretation), you can get some ideas of not-so-much studied events in East Asian history during the 1920s and 30s from the author's description of a Korean revolutionary (Kim San, whose real name is Jang Ji-Rak), who left Korea occupied by Japanese imperialism at that time, went to the mainland, and finally engaged in the several battles of Chinese Revolution believing the Revolution as the first step toward a region-wide revolutions including Korean and Japanese ones.
His earlier experience in Korea of changing his identity from a Christian to a Anarcho-Socialist revolutionary after seeing the Japanese brutality of bloody suppression during the March 1st Independence movement in 1919 is also revealing(tragically, he was executed in his thirties by Chinese communists who labelled him a Trotskyist shortly after this book was published in the US, but his contribution to the revolution was recently recognized by the Chinese government). This is a tragic but inspiring saga incorporating a history of imperialism and revolution and an existential story into one person's life.
Kim San, whom Nym Wales found as the most attractive figure among her interviewees including famous revolutionaries, was a person who could discuss in English with her and translated some Russian revolutionary texts into Korean as an intellectual but also was a combatant in several significant battles in the revolution. He may be considered someone like Che Guevara in the East.
This book is a classic. And I wonder why this book is out of print. Nym Wales wrote a great book, which stimulated a historical imagination so strongly that many people could change their own lives in Korea by reading it even after the book was published decades ago. --A reader's review on Amazon.com
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