|Reviews in the German Literary Circle and Press
In its first issue of 1997, Lesart, a German
literary critique quarterly, reviewed the Korean literature that had been
recently translated into German. Entitled 'The Agony of a Young Tiger',
the review article begins with the comment on 'Wind Baptism', a collection
of poems written by Nam Jo Kim. The following is the main content of the
According to some poets and publicity slogans - distantly
related to poets - Korea is praised as the Land of the Morning Calm. Nevertheiess,
it has been a long time since Korea became a land of the bustling noise.
As one of the Asian tigers, South Korea is already a part of the industrialized,
gobalized world and is exposed to many socio-political conflicts.
Through poems we may be in contact with the fading past.
Nam Jo Kim, born in 1927, is a prominent female poet who tells us a story
of serenity in a beautiful pastel tone of poetry. In her poems, we can
see the face of the Korean War which shattered and divided the nation,
the suffering and change of time.This may explain the fact that the later
works of Nam Jo Kim are infused with the search for one's inner life.
The current publication of Kim's 'Wind Baptism', translated
into German by Mrs. J. H. Seo, illustrates her inspring poems including
'A Night Out of the Soul'. Her works probe into the questions of human
existence and seem to fascinate the German readers. Solitude, meditation,
faith, hope, light and love are her thems. Innuendo, allure and insinuation
are her style to approach power and politics.
the noise of the city
works the wind
into the forest and
a shield of the wind
is posed around
the naked trees
Kim finds the sprout of life and love in the cold winter
and adores it. 'Tears rising into heaven/bring in the white snow/descending
to earth' and by the wind in 'Wind Baptism', the author laments the loss
of the uncontaminated nature in Korea when she describes how 'the pure
water of the wind baptises trees'. Her grievance, worn out, is well shown
when she looks up to the faraway sky and says 'allow me to conclude/with
he glow of/the farthest star.'
Seung Woo Lee, born in 1959, argues in his novel, 'Another
Side of Life', translated by J.H.Seo that every literary work reflects
the life of its own author. His novel, 'Another Side of Life' is centred
on the story of a famous Korean writer called Pu Kil Park - a fictional
character - and the repression of the intellectuals with critical thoughts
under the military regime. The author chooses to tell the story through
the eyes of a young writer who tracks down the life of Pu Kil Park and
this way the character develops with intrigue and adventure. The nature
of a human being at the time of social change is explored in detail.
The home of the protagonist experiences the breakdown
of the traditional bondage between generations and the consequent loss
of authority and other traditional values. The protagonist grows up in
poverty and despair. Then, when his way of religion and love clashes with
that of the elderly and the society changes accordingly, the current reality
of the Korean society surfaces. Indeed, this is the reality of Korea that
puzzles other countries. After suffering from isolation from all sorts
of foreign influence, from abuse by the Japanese colonial rule, from total
destruction by the Korean War, and from authoritarian military regimes,
Korea is now a wealthy country that is envied and feared by many others.
In 2-3 generations, the country became urbanized and industrialized. The
protagonist, Pu Kil Park, went through exactly the same changes and in
a way he was a victim of these severe changes. Torn between the old and
new, modern Koreans remain rootless.
Lee's novel, 'Another Side of Life', tries hard to point
out this contradiction and to find an answer to it. It is very interesting
to read, especially for those who desire to understand the sufferings of
Korea and Koreans, the young tigers.