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Love story written by 88-year-old novelist

Posted January. 13, 2020 07:35,   

Updated January. 13, 2020 07:35


What if a Japanese woman and a Korean man fell in love in Korea shortly after the country achieved independence from Japan in 1945? What if the woman was a wife of a Japanese military officer and the man was a son of an independence activist? The 88-year-old novelist Jang Chung-sik recounts a love story that transcends all conditions - age, social status and nationality.

What saves “Beautiful Love” from becoming a romance cliché is its realism. The novel successfully depicts Korea after it gained independence - the miserable lives of Japanese people in a camp before being sent to their home country, the painful journey of those migrating from the northern parts of the country, the collapse of freedom fighters’ families amidst an ideological conflict, terror attacks between an anti-communism youth group and a communist party, and those secretly leaving for Japan. The Pyongan accent is a bonus.

The writer, who served chairman of Dankook University, chief representative of inter-Korean sports talks and president of the Korean Red Cross, seems to have focused on conveying a raw message about “forgiveness” rather than on polishing the book. Jang’s book could be recreated as a great movie or TV series if adapted into an excellent screenplay by a seasoned director.

Dong-Yong Min mindy@donga.com