Korean Modern Literature: The Diary of a Torn Nation

IMG1442As I visited South Korea in June this summer, I realized how beautiful this peninsula is. The natural landscape is one of its own, well preserved and promoted. The beaches, mountains, hills, tunnels, woods and the breezes along the way are scattered just like that but still showcase the beauty. The blend of traditional remnants and modern civilization are what anyone can see throughout the country.  It’s definitely the place I can spend forever in.

Yet, what amazes me more is how Korean folks lead their lives. I still remember what my tour guide Rose Lee told me in relatively fluent Indonesian,”We Koreans have a long and deep history of separation. Koreans have longed for the union.” Rose Lee’s father is already 80 years old now and, as she put it, his heart always sinks every time he recalls his very dear brother in North.

Rose Lee’s father is only one of millions of Koreans out there with this fervent hope of reunion. Koreans literally live with this wound. The wound is out of being taken away from their beloved or not being able to see anyone who matters so much in their life.

Perhaps this is why we can observe the subtlety and profoundness of emotions and feelings in Korean modern literary works, and even in their heart wrenching plots in popular movies and TV dramas. The past unhealed scar seems to leave them with higher sense of life appreciation. Every simple moment matters and should be appreciated in any possible ways.

Literature serves as a perfect means of chanelling those pains and capture the moments and experiences a person thinks worth sharing. Cathartic and escapist it may sound to many but these lines of sentences may in turn refine and reshape our understanding towards life and its complexity.

 

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