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Giant of Korean Literature Dies at Age 82

Posted May. 06, 2008 07:44,   


Park Kyung-ni, a veteran Korean novelist best known for her mammoth historical saga “Toji (Land),” died yesterday from a chronic disease at Asan Medical Center in Seoul. She was 82.

Since 1999, Park had been staying at the Toji Cultural Center in Wonju, Gangwon Province. She was hospitalized after her condition worsened.

Born in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, in 1926, Park began her career in 1955 with the publishing of her short story “Calculation” in the literary magazine “Hyundae Munhak (Contemporary Literature)” at the recommendation of novelist Kim Dong-ni.

Among her numerous novels include “The Curse of Kim`s Daughters” and “Marketplace and Battlefield.”

Her crowning achievement, however, was the 16-volume saga “Toji,” which debuted in the magazine in 1969 and ran for 25 years until completion in 1994. The epic novel was written on more than 31,000 pieces of 200-word manuscripts, and was translated into English and French.

The book is considered a masterpiece of 20th-century Korean literature and was made into TV dramas several times.

Park also won numerous literary prizes, including the Inchon Award (1990); Korean Women’s Literature Award; Woltan Literature Award; Ho-Am Award; and the Bogwan Order of Culture Merit in 1992. The Culture, Sport and Tourism Ministry is expected to give her the posthumous honor of the Geumgwan Order of Culture Merit.

She is survived by her daughter Kim Yeong-ju, the head of the Toji Culture Center, and poet and son-in-law Kim Ji-ha.

A memorial chamber has been set up at Asan Medical Center in Seoul. The wake will start early Thursday morning and the funeral will be held at her hometown of Tongyeong the next day.

She will be buried on a mountain near Tongyeong. For more information, call (02) 3010-2631.

kimjy@donga.com ray@donga.com