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 article.

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.

leaning behind
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.