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From Wonso Pond


"A fatherless young girl now poised to become the victim of [the landlord's] lecherous fangs and paws," begins one of the original newspaper teasers describing The Country and the City and the fate of its heroine Sonbi. In a plot rich with Dickensian overtones, the novel paints a vivid picture of life in what is now North Korea through the eyes of Sonbi, her rustic childhood neighbor, Ch'otchae, and a restless law student, Sinch'ol, as they journey separately from a small, impoverished village ruled by the lecherous and baron to the port city of Inch'on.But life is hardly easier there, as Sonbi wears herself out boiling silk threads twelve hours a day while Ch'otchae and Sinch'ol load rice on the docks. All three become involved with underground activists, fighting the oppression of country and city, as well as their Japanese colonial rulers.A classic revolutionary novel of the 1930s and the first complete work written by a woman before the Korean War to be published in English, The Country and the City transforms the love triangle between these three protagonists into a revealing portrait of the living conditions that led to modern Korea, both North and South.Kang Kyong-ae (1906-1944) lived and wrote in Japan-ruled Korea. She is the author of the novel Mothers and Daughters (Omoni wa ttal), which was also serialized in Korean journals during the 1930s. At the age of thirty-nine, Kang died of a long-standing illness.

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