• Book
  • English(English)

파씨의 입문

  • Author
  • Country
    Republic of Korea
  • Publisher
  • Published Year
  • Genre
    Literature - Korean literature - Contemporary fiction



    Title: Passi’s Coming Into the World

    Author: Hwang Jung-eun

    Genre: Fiction


    LTI Korea staff: Alex Baek ( / +82-2-6919-7741)


  • About the book

    Up-and-coming author Hwang Jungeun is one of the most watched writers by Korean critics and readers today. Her original voice that combines fantasy with reality was first recognized in her first collection of stories, The Seven Thirty-Two Elephant Train, and her first novel One Hundred Shadows, which won the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, was praised for its ‘fresh yet well-crafted literary aesthetic based on a rigorous ethic.’ Hwang’s work is oft cited as a successful marriage of sociopolitical themes and aesthetically pleasing style, whose authorly dedication and diverse interests have found approval with many a sharp-eyed reader. If further proof was needed that Hwang is one of the greatest new talents to watch in Korean literature in the 2010s, the nine stories in this collection, Passi’s Coming Into the World, again demonstrates that she deserves all her accolades.


    “Night Trip”: A story about a nocturnal argument between relatives written almost entirely in dialogue and brief descriptions of the characters’ actions that gives the powerfully unsettling feeling of an absurdist play to a seemingly trivial incident. This actually applies to all of the stories in this book. The appeal of Hwang Jungeun’s work rests in this tension, tightly coiled in the dialogue and simple sentences that flow rhythmically and artlessly.


    “Danny DeVito”: The protagonist cannot bear to leave her beloved husband behind when she dies, so she becomes a ghost and haunts him. When she was alive she was wont to say, “Anyway, if I die, I’m going to haunt you, Yudo. I’m going to be lonely when I die, so you have to put up with me.” True to her words, she becomes a ghost and haunts Yudo, her husband, until the end of his days.


    “Falling”: The narrator is falling in a vast expanse of nothingness, not knowing whether she is dead or alive or even whether she is falling down or floating up. The novel delivers her soliloquy without any attempt at adorning or embellishing her unusual situation. It is a masterly execution of steadily building up emotions under cover of simple-looking sentences until they reach a tipping point. The voice of the narrator that is slowly fading away, memorable to nobody because she cannot be seen, strike the reader as unbearably lonely and sad. 


    “The Jar”: One day the protagonist finds a large clay jar that says, “there are five [jars] in the west.” The protagonist ignores the jar at first, but when he observes the jar morphing into something like a human face he changes his mind and decides to take the jar’s advice and go west. On the way he meets an old man who tells him, “chasing jars will wreck you,” and men that are hunting jars to bury them in the ground. And so the strange story goes on to reference current affairs and reveal itself to be an allegory of all things that become forgotten and buried.   


    “The Life of Myossi”: A cat that has died and come back to life five times stoically narrates the horrific deeds humans do to cats, telling its story with a dignity that is in sharp contrast with the greed of the human race. Added to this is the narrative of an old homeless man who still struggles to maintain his dignity that expands the interpretative possibilities of the story beyond that of man vs. beast.


    “Opening Parasols”: A day in the life of a part-time worker selling parasols at a bazaar. The minutiae of life as observed by Hwang Jungeun’s innocent, good-natured character is described candidly and vividly, the absurdity of which, in turn, is rudely revealed when a crowd of demonstrators join the bazaar, their voices mingling with those of the salespeople in a scene that strikes the perfect balance between the tragic and comic.


    “Didi’s Umbrella”: Didi has always regretted not returning Dodo’s umbrella after borrowing it as a child, so when they meet again as adults she lends her umbrella to Dodo. The two begin living together and have a party for their friends, ordinary people harried by the cares of everyday life. The final scene of the story highlights their friendship and solidarity as marginalized but good people who can laugh together despite their sorrows.


    “Bone Robber”: The gay protagonist decides to battle a record snowfall to find his lover after a lifetime of discrimination and self-imposed isolation. In this story that emphasizes the protagonist’s love is no different from any other, the author listens to the voices of those that exist on the fringes of society and watches over them. And then she chooses, with great deliberation, the words to bring their story alive. The author’s solid, clear prose is the result of a stubbornly consistent thoughtfulness.


    “Passi’s Coming Into the World”: The story of how it all began. Or rather, the memorable and bewitching story of the beginning of language, writers, fiction, or the protagonist Passi, who declares “Passi is Passi, conceived as Passi and strenuously evolving to be Passi until Passi is no more.” The title of the story, “Passi’s Coming Into the World,” therefore, is both a declaration of the artistic vision of the author known as Hwang Jungeun and an invitation to the author’s world. For those who dare to accept this invitation into the world of Passi, it will truly be an experience worth remembering.

    About the author

    Hwang Jungeun was born in Seoul in 1976. She made her debut winning the Kyunghyang Shinmun New Writer’s Award in 2005. Her works include the short story collection The Seven Thirty-Two Elephant Train and the novel One Hundred Shadows. She is the winner of the 2010 Hankook Ilbo Literary Award.

    About the translators

    Yang Mirae is a translator specializing in translations from Korean to English and vice versa. She received her master’s degree in English/Korean Translation from Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

    Media Response/Awards Received

    “Murmurs of the lonely”

    —Yonhap News


    “Dramatic meeting of fantasy and reality”

    —Sekye Ilbo


    “The mundane transformed into an absurdist play…Hwang Jungeun’s Passi’s Coming Into the World experiments with new voices”

    —Kukmin Ilbo

Translated Books (13)

News from Abroad (42)