[Editorial] Toward a Country Without a Blacklist and “Hidden Constitution”

 

The Quarterly Changbi 175, Spring 2017

 

 

The current issue, featuring “The Candlelight Revolution: Beginning of a Great Turning”, investigates the nature of candlelight demonstrations since last October, examines what has been and will be achieved through the protests, and discusses the possible choices and starting points of a great turning in our society.

Paik Nak-chung, emphasizing the fact that the candlelight demonstrations are quite a new civil revolution different from any precedented revolutions or uprisings in nature and aspects, calls them “the Candlelight Revolution” without reservation. By grasping the peaceful protests as the strategic choice of collective intelligence, he proposes to build a new world through the peaceful revolution, which may have no parallel in world history. This process will call for the promotion of peace in both East Asia and the Korean Peninsula with increased awareness of the division system in Korea, as well as through the complete overcoming of the Park Chung-hee model and the abolition of a “Hidden Constitution”. In addition, he doesn’t forget to give some timely advice for the political circles to fully accomplish the tasks presented in the candlelight revolution.

Yoo Chul-gyu, from a comprehensive perspective not confined to the Korean Peninsula, examines what courses South Korea should take in the era of mounting tension and conflicts of interest between the U. S. and China. He proposes that South Korea could find its exit at the very point where the bilateral relations between the US, especially under the Trump regime, and China–the former has sought to have one-on-one talks in foreign affairs, while the latter tries to take the pivotal role in multilateral negotiations–collide. He assures that the conflict surrounding the deployment of THAAD could also be worked out in this way. Furthermore, in these circumstances, a fair distribution of wealth is addressed as a feasible solution to the economic crisis of South Korea, in particular, as an alternative in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and underdevelopment.

Hwang Jung-a, in her criticism on recent short stories, gives a dynamic picture of the main “affects” seized in the Candlelight square, and goes on to probe what democracy would feel like. She finds in the stories of Kim Geum-hee the feeling of “stay put”, which has emerged as the biggest topic in the post-Sewol ferry Korean society, and explores how that feeling gradually brings about the passion “not to stay put”. The stories by Hwang Jung-eun, the equanimous report of the moments of life when ‘the sacred’ and ‘the trivial’ intersect incessantly, show a delicate trajectory of mind in which ‘the trivial’ comes up to the light of the people’s square. “We’ve raised candlelights”, the special conversation by young generation who have not experienced the June Democracy Movement in 1987, is projected as the very grand finale of this feature. Those participants from a feminist activist group Gangnam Station Exit #10, the student union of Ewha Womans University, and Action for Impeachment of PSPD (People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy) tell us the authentic experiences they had in the candlelight protests, respectively. Their talk is particularly encouraging, since it leads young people from diverse backgrounds, who are the key driving forces of candlelight demonstrations, to communicate with each other and think over the possibility of a new type of democracy for the nation.

The spirit of the candlelight revolution could also be found on the Scene. Han Hong-koo, the historian, keeps track of the history of Korean people’s struggles for democracy under the title of “Korean history in terms of candlelights and squares”. Reflecting on the modern history of Korea, he keeps asking why so many people had to come out to streets and squares at every turn of transformation, what significance the squares have for us now, and finally comes to the conclusion that this is the very time to set our society right with the persevering spirit of the candlelight revolution.

In the Corner of Poems, ten poets from Kim Kwang-Kyu to Yu Jin-mok have contributed diverse poems of distinct individuality. And Kim Geum-hee, one of the most remarkable novelists of recent years, is going to run a serialized novel this year. We expect her new novel, an intriguing story between a deputy team manager of a sewing machine company and a blunt female employee, to enjoy a wide readership of our journal. Moreover, three writers–Kang Young-sook, Kim Rheo-ryung, and Kim Ae-ran–who have already established their own world of art, present short stories of unique invention written in different narrative styles.

And in Literary Focus, Son Tack-su, the poet, and Jung Ju-a, the critic, as new presiders of the corner, invite Kim Un, the poet, and lead an intriguing discussion on five noteworthy collections of poetry and novels published for the last season. Hopefully, the dialogue on these remarkable works from diverse perspectives of critical postures will provide a useful guideline for our readers. In Focus on Authors, Shin Mina, the poet, has a conversation with Jo Hae-jin, whose collection of short stories The Escort of Light has been published recently, and looks into her literary world resembling “a superb panorama of light shot out from the crevice of a dark box”.

Park Sang-su, the poet, appraises, in his literary criticism, the general landscape of recent poems as well as some critical utterances on poems, by comparing “the ethical adventure of poetic subjects” in the 2000s with “the ethical responsibility for reconstruction of daily life” in the 2010s.

Three articles published in the current issue investigate essential topics in their respective fields. Nancy Fraser, professor of philosophy and politics, explores the structural dilemma between capitalism and social reproduction under the framework of “contradictions of capital and care”. Analysing the crisis of liberal feminism subjugated to neo-liberal financial capitalism, she offers an insightful perspective how we might mobilize feminism’s best energies against the present perils. Ahn Byung-ok gives a critical analysis on technological optimists’ view of climate change, in his counterargument to Lee Pil-Ryul’s “Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, and Capitalism” (The Quarterly Changbi #173). To reduce and avoid formidable risks and the impacts of climate change on humanity that need to be addressed, he underscores the long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2℃, and furthermore, to limit the increase to 1.5℃. Koo Kab-woo submits the review of four noteworthy memoirs he has read meticulously, including that of William Perry, the former U. S. Secretary of Defence, and that of Song Min-soon, the former Foreign Minister of ROK. Through the process of cross-checking of the statements by those involved deeply in the situations of East Asia as well as the Peninsula, he tries to find the key to the issue of the North Korean nuclear problem and inter-Korean relations and, in doing so, he reveals the significance of memoirs as a literary genre.

With a heavy heart, we have prepared the Essay Corner. Lamenting the sudden death of the late Jung Mi-kyung, the novelist, who has occupied a crucial position in our literary scene with her solid, delicate, and dignified works, two junior novelists, Jung Ji-a and Jung E-hyun, look back on the life and works of the deceased. The piercing sadness of losing the great author who has never been daunted by the task of confronting this world of conflicts and contradictions could be felt intact in every line of the tributes. We pray for the repose of the deceased, and express our deep appreciation to the two novelists for their contributions.

Letters from the Readers, which have attracted much attention through the interviews with dozens of professionals in major fields for the year, will change its title to Readers’ Review. Moon Byung-hoon and Lee Ju-hye, our valuable readers with particular attention and affection for Changbi, sent their reliable reviews on the last issue. For Book Reviews, Ha Dae-chung (science) and Yang Hyo-shil (woman) will contribute their reviews for the year. In particular, we at the editorial board would like to show our appreciation for all seven reviewers for the time and efforts they put into this section.

We also happily announce the 15th Daesan College Literary Award Winning Works and publish them in the current issue. With hearty congratulations, we feel sure that the award-winners will grow into masters to flourish Korean literature in the near future.

 

Han Ki-wook