Jang Gang-myeong; Hankyoreh Publishing: 352 pp., 11,000 won
The novel looks into a dark and striking portrait of society depicting youngsters who are drifting for no reason.
The author calls the young generation as the “bleaching” generation as they are forced to be “bleached” for society, which seems to be perfectly white outwardly.
The male protagonist is a university student who returns to the school after completing his military service. He is not satisfied with his university and thinks he should move to a better school for a better life but he does nothing. One day, he gets together with some friends who have earned scholarships with the future looking bright for them. But one of them persuades the others to commit suicide and kills himself to become a pioneering leader among them. After the incident, other friends, including the protagonist, return to their normal lives but accidently encounter each other through a suicide website a few years later.
The story reflects the gloomy social situation in which many young people choose to kill themselves and portrays their agony. It shows the social absurdity of youngsters who commit suicide when they feel successful. The book portrays how young people survive hardships in a murky reality.
— CHUNG AH-YOUNG
Lee Young-gwan; Sang Sang Publishing: 316 pp., 15,000 won
The summer season is reaching its peak. For many vacationers who haven’t yet decided on destinations, this book is a useful and informative guide for summer travel.
From Hahoe Village in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province to Mara Island eight kilometers off the south coast of Jeju in southernmost Korea, the book introduces the diverse characteristics of local villages which are filled with rural beauties and picturesque landscapes.
Muni Village surrounded by Mt. Baekun is good for trekking and boasts beautiful scenery along the Dong River in Gangwon Province. As the village retains rural purity and diverse natural activities such as trekking and rafting are common, more and more tourists are heading to the village.
Dongpirang in Tongyeong in South Gyeongsang Province is often called the “village of art” full of graffiti and sketches and small colorful houses. The village is also home to the street commemorating world-renowned musician Isang Yun.
The book offers information about the villages and nearby tourist spots along with colorful photos.
— CHUNG AH-YOUNG
Lee Jae-ik; Hwangso Books; 328 pp., 12,000 won
A sinkhole is a natural phenomenon in which various types of holes are created on the surface of the earth.
The book is born from a vivid and startling thought — what if a sinkhole forms in the heart of Seoul?
Set in a 123-story building criticized as “Korea’s Tower of Babel” by environmentalists, the story unfolds and symbolizes the greed of human desire.
On the opening day of the building, it suddenly sinks into the earth, causing mayhem and claiming countless lives.
The sinkhole at 180 meters in diameters and 700 to 1,000 meters in depth swallows the gigantic tower in a moment while some survivors and rescuers begin the fight to save more people from sinking into the hole. Relentless natural destruction and development projects in urban areas and the pervasive corruption of public servants all tinged with grim, modern selfishness are reflected throughout the tale.
The book offers psychological portrayals of human beings facing the extreme fear of death with a uniquely imaginative approach.
— CHUNG AH-YOUNG
Wim Wenders: Photos
Wim Wenders; Translated from German to Korean by Lee Dong-jun; Ebom: 364 pp., 17,000 won
Master filmmaker Wim Wenders was taking photos long before directing classics such as “Wings of Desire” (1987) and “Buena Visa Social Club” (1999).
However, the German cineaste did not publish his photographs until after he swept awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984 with “Paris, Texas.” Two years later he held an exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris and has been equally active as a prolific photographer.
This book of essays and photographs features some 300 works, many of which comprise of thematic series. This is because, as Wenders explains, “All photographs in the world, all the ‘once’ in time, mark the moment a story begins. That is why there are more serial photos than individual shots.”
The collection features not only romantic kisses and sunset landscapes, but also demolished buildings and scenes of impoverished lives. He says, photography is “an act that is too beautiful to be true but at the same time too true to be beautiful.”
Also included are shots of the everyday lives of great 20th-century cineastes such as Jean-Luc Godard, Nagisa Oshima, Dennis Hooper, and Akira Kurosawa.
_ Lee Hyo-won