[Essay] As If Writing Down the Words in My Heart / Han Kang

The Quarterly Changbi 178, Winter 2017

 

Abstract

In the corner of essay, we publish a prize acceptance speech by Han Kang, who won 2017 Malaparte Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award, for her novel on Gwangju Uprising, Human Acts. She describes with a calm voice how she came to encounter ‘Gwangju’ only very late in her long lasting journey of literary practices. She had to face anew her memories of Gwangju, where she used to live in her early years. The painful memories of Gwangju she felt in the process of writing the novel, she says, were rekindled when she was watching the Yongsan disaster of 2009. Han confesses she has thought many times in front of the tombs of victims of Gwangju whether she can write down their words in her heart. She moves on to the literary struggle of realizing the dignity of humanity which can be found in the scene of massacre.