[Feature] Literature in the Era of Candlelight Democracy / Han Ki-wook

The Quarterly Changbi 178, Winter 2017

 

Abstract

Han Ki-wook illuminates the present state of Korean literature with new insights made possible by the Candlelight Revolution, and reflects on significant ways how literature participates in the Revolution. He emphasizes it is no other than the literary practice that forms the integral part in building a new world, because, only through that practice, we could discern and vitalize the differences between the old and the new world, as well as those between life alive and life as good as dead. Focused on not only the transformative aspiration and perspectives derived from the Candlelight Revolution, but also explosive voices claiming for gender equality, he examines the prominent tendencies of feminist fiction in these days. He discusses, among others, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Kim Rye-ryeong’s recent short stories, the two literary examples embodying the potential of ‘the Candlelight Democracy’, noting the dauntless courage to fight against the absurdity of existing state of affairs and the pioneering spirit to renew one’s identity incessantly.