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Les recherches du professeur K et autres nouvelles


Kim Dong-in (1900-1950) is a prominent writer from the Japanese colonial era and a leading actor of the modernization of Korean literature. By developing the short story genre as a platform for experimenting with various literary concepts, he laid many milestones for what was to become the mainstream of Korea's so called "Pure Literature". His works are now considered classics and are well known to Korean readers.


The present selection of Kim Dong-in's major short stories translated for the first time in French in one volume features works covering the whole span of his literary career.  We see him going from a very naturalist depiction of human beings (in early stories such as "Les Pommes de Terre (Potatoes)") to almost Impressionist reveries inspired by the landscapes of Pyongyang (as in "Le Fleuve Daedong murmure  - The Daedong river whispers - ") and Seoul (as in "Le Peintre fou - The Mad Painter -").


Also, throughout these excursions among various literary genres and concepts, Kim Dong-in draws a unique painting of the lives of the Korean people during this period of Japanese colonization, be it that of the inmates of the Japanese prisons in the aftermath of the March First uprising for the independence of the country (1919) in "La Peine du Fouet (Sentenced to the Whip)", the everyday life of a gisaeng told without embellishment in "Les Yeux à peine ouverts (The Eyes half opened)", or that of the peasants settled in un-welcoming Manchuria in "Les Montagnes rouges (Red Hills)".


Simon Kim, who selected and translated these short stories into French, majored in Korean Literature from that period and is very familiar with Kim Dong-in's literary universe. His choice of stories is therefore not a random selection of Kim Dong-in's representative works but was carefully picked in order to introduce to French readers a more comprehensive view of Kim Dong-in's genius.



Source: Benjamin Joinau, Ph.D. (Assistant professor, Hongik University, Seoul / Associate researcher, EHESS, Center for Korean Studies / Director, Atelier des Cahiers)



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