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Conflicted Souls within a Divided Korea: The Square by Choi In-hun


After the first printing in 1961, this book has sold over ten-thousand copies each year, reaching up to sixty printings. When we talk about Korean history, one horrific event that can never be left out is the Korean War. And the first thing that comes to mind when we think about that terrible war is Choi In-hun’s work, The Square. The open square is not just a symbol of division but an ideological symbol that compresses the discussion of modern Korean history. The crux of The Square, which contrasts North and South Korea through the metaphor of open squares versus secret rooms, is that Korean history is not just a topic to be discussed but a compression of the universal conflicts of modern people. “Back when individuals’ secret rooms and open squares were permeable,” thought the protagonist Lee Myong-jun, “people were at ease. When kings and commoners had only open spaces without secret rooms, the world was at peace. But trouble began when the division opened up between secret rooms and open squares. When people can no longer find open squares to inquire into life, what will they do?"


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