[Feature] Rethinking the “Politics of Literature” / Hwang Jung-a

The Quarterly Changbi 194, Winter 2021

 

Abstract

Under the topic “Literature, Politics, Democracy,” this issue’s feature introduces a wide-ranging discussion about the political nature that Korean literature is currently experiencing and that it should continue to pursue. Literary critic Hwang Jung-a examines the politicalness currently in operation and manifested in the field of literature, while warning against the possibility that the more natural our demands for and practices of the political nature of literature become the rarer the exploration and questioning into its nature might become. Focusing on a recent novel by Han Kang that deals with the serious topic of the traumatic legacies of the April 3 Incident, and a novel by Choi Eun-young that depicts intergenerational solidarity among women, Hwang meticulously examines how these novels are interconnected and conflict with the demands of “political and moral correctness.” Her argument persuades us through her sincere belief that literature should go further than sympathy for the marginalized, into the common space in which literature touches on the dimension where it “shares their pain and healing.”