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Yoon Heung-gil finishes his novel ‘Tatoo’ in over five years

Yoon Heung-gil finishes his novel ‘Tatoo’ in over five years

Posted February. 28, 2024 07:37,   

Updated February. 28, 2024 07:37


Writer Yoon Heung-gil (82) expressed a sense of shame and embarrassment during a press conference commemorating the completion of his full-length novel 'Tattoo' (a total of five volumes) held at the Franciscan Education Center in Jung-gu, Seoul, on Tuesday. In a somewhat sheepish manner, he remarked, “I can’t bear to call a 5-volume novel a saga, so I’m calling it a new word ‘mid-to-short novel.’” Reflecting on the publication of volumes 1 to 3 in December 2018 and volumes 4 and 5 five years and three months later, he admitted, “I was very stressed because the work was delayed.” When the editor praised it as ‘a new classic that will shine in the 21st century,’ Yoon Heung-gil waved his hands dismissively, stating, “The word ‘classic’ is embarrassing.” However, he calmly added this sentiment during the conference.

"My chronic cardiovascular disease worsened, and I became seriously ill about three times. I wrote it thinking I might die while working on it,” the author said. “This masterpiece will remain in my life as a writer."

Yoon made his literary debut in 1968 and gained recognition through his novels, 'The Man Who Left as Nine Pairs of Shoes' (1977), which explored the joys and sorrows of a worker weakened during the industrialization process, and the short story 'The Rainy Spell' (1980), which delved into the tragedy of the Korean War. 'Tattoo' meticulously portrays the conflicting beliefs, desires, and conflicts within a family set during the Japanese colonial period. The novel reflects the extensive efforts put into it, taking 25 years from its initial conception to completion. It is an extension of his work, documenting the pain of modern Korean history. Comprising 6,500 sheets of 200-character manuscript paper, the 5-volume set is substantial, spanning 2,092 pages.

이호재기자 hoho@donga.com