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Sunday, January 04, 2004

New novel from Jo Jung-rae (Cho Chông-nae)

Jo Jung-rae (spelling at his official homepage www.jojungrae.com) has begun publishing a new series of novels about the collapse of socialism (interview in Chosun Ilbo). [That is a theme that Chosun is the last not to have on its pages.] First two parts, called "Road of Riddle" (수수께끼의 길, Arvoitusten tie) and "Key of Fog" (안개의 열쇠, Sumun avain) [Finnish translations of the titles seem to match better with the originals] have been published in two literary magazines. (I'm writing this down since Jo's previous big work, 10-part Han'gang was such a stirring read.) Chosun has put Jo's words "no matter how ideal (isangjôgin) the system, it'll collapse if it disregards basic human desires" in bold under the headline.

From Chosun:
‘수수께끼의 길’과 ‘안개의 열쇠’는 운동권 출신 기자가 시사 주간지 특집기사를 쓰기 위해 90년대 초 중국 사회를 돌아보는 과정을 추적했다. 천안문 사태 후 장사꾼으로 위장해 중국에 들어간 주인공이 만난 중국인은 ‘뒷선물’이 없으면 제대로 움직이지 않는 종업원, 달러를 벌기 위해 교수직을 내던진 택시기사 등이다. 이들이 “나라를 망친 게 당원들” “돈은 귀신도 부린다”라고 스스럼없이 말하는 것을 들으며 주인공은 “이곳이 과연 사회주의인가” “인간이란 과연 무엇인가”라는 질문을 던진다.
In the interview Jo says that a writer cannot but be in discord (pulhwa) with the government; a writer cannot but be progressive, and a writer cannot help but be a lonely person in discord, revealing also mistakes by forces doing politics on a progressive platform.

I remember seeing enthrilled comments by Jo Jung-rae in a newspaper (Hankyoreh) after the last presidential election about the result; perhaps Jo has corrected his course to that of a less aligned writer, or become less than enthrilled with the Roh administration.

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