The works of Korean literature contained in this issue of our review cover the years from 1930 to the present. We may compare the volume to a gallery displaying a great variety of works, all of them composed by mature writers at the height of their creative powers, in both poetry and prose. The relationship between literature and life is a complex one, and with its violent modern history, Korean writers have produced works of literature that relate to their historical and personal contexts in a variety of ways. Diversity is the key-word here, as always.
This month's selection of modern poetry focuses on writers of what is known in Korea as "pure literature", in contrast to the work found in the last issue. Lee Hyong-ki, Kim Hu-ran, and Chon Hyon-jong were all born in the 1930s, experienced the trauma of the Korean War as young adults, and by a strange coincidence all of them worked for some time as journalists and writers of editorial columns in various newspapers at a turbulent period of Korean history. Kim Huran alone did not then go on to become an academic and her work is both less intellectual and less somber than that of the others.
In fiction, we must note the inclusion of Kim Won-il's novelette Prisons of the Heart. As so often in his work, we find a fundamentally humanistic depiction of tragic conflict and reconciliation between the demands of ideology and brotherhood, here expressed in the story of the relationship between two brothers who experienced the 1960 April Revolution. In this story the author emphasizes that in the end brotherhood transcends ideology. This work demonstrates the rhetorical mastery with which Kim Won-il was able to embody his fundamental themes.
Very different, and from a much earlier moment of Korean history, the story Barbershop Boy is taken from Park T'ae-won's Ch'onpyonp'ungkyong (Streamside Sketchs), which was one of the very first works to deal with the social reality of Seoul in the 1930s, with its series of vignettes of life along the Ch'ongkyech'on stream, now covered over, that runs through central Seoul.
Han Sung-won's novel Father and Son continues in this issue, with its traditional theme of the conflict and love that so often coexist in relationships between the generations. Here the son, who is closer to his mother, wins against his father as time and history flow on. Yet the father bequeaths his land to his son, which means that the son is obliged to inherit his father's world. Instead of simply freeing himself from fatherhood's oppression, the son finds his way ahead by affirming and overcoming it.
Finally, a translation of Ch'oe Yun's fable The Flower with Thirteen Fragrances enables readers to see a striking example of the most recent work of one of Korea's major younger writers. Published in 1995, this witty tale embodies harsh satire of the greed and materialism that dominate modern Korean society in a delightful manner that may surprise those who expect its author to produce difficult and overly intellectual works.

Lee Taedong
Brother Anthony