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Jo Jung-rae presents his new novel ‘The Question of a Thousand Years’

Jo Jung-rae presents his new novel ‘The Question of a Thousand Years’

Posted June. 12, 2019 07:44,   

Updated June. 12, 2019 07:44


Famous Korean novelist Jo Jung-rae, the author of “Taebaek Mountain Range” and “Arirang,” has come back to meet his readers with a new full-length novel titled “The Question of a Thousand Years” (1-3) – published by Hainaim, 14,800 Korean won for each. It has been around three years since he published “A Grass Flower is Also a Flower” in 2016. Pointing out temporary social issues harshly, the author criticizes wealth inequalities and irregularities and puts forward detailed countermeasures.

“The national economic structure had been a subject of question since 1976, and the social problem had been left unaddressed, which worsened the gap between rich and poor,” the 75-year-old author said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I have pondered upon how to make Korea a better country for next generations.”

His new book vividly depicts people who are swayed by violent capital and authority. It deals with a slush fund scandal of a conglomerate, tracked down by Jang Woo-jin, a financially struggling but righteous journalist at a weekly magazine, and Goh Seok-min, a lecturer and ghostwriter. High-profile stories in the real world are implied in the dark sides of figures described in the novel such as lawmaker, son-in-law of a conglomerate, business executive in charge of slush funds. Jo said that his novel is an answer to the question of what a nation does mean to citizens.

“The Korean history of being colonized reminds of us the significance of a sovereign country. However, once a state turns into a tyranny, corruption and depravity breathe down our necks,” the author said. “Citizens are obliged to prevent it from happening. Indifference to politics amounts to irresponsibility for your life.”

Jo has contemplated the topic of what defines a state for around two decades. After researching on his own with more than 130 notebooks used up, he started to pen his new story. Asked about the main character, a journalist, Jo said, “Journalists should be serve as a torch and oxygen of the masses and he considered a journalist to be a perfect protagonist to make the author’s wishes come true.

“The North Korean nuclear issue, which is left unresolved, causes public concern. The national economy is struggling, which is not a sole responsibility of the current administration but a complex issue that is worsened by global challenges. It only makes things stacked against the public,” the author said. “Nevertheless, the National Assembly wastes their time quarreling over petty issues. Bipartisan responsibility is required to get the country through such a crisis.”

Seol Lee snow@donga.com