Working on My Second Novel

When my grandfather passed away, my parents placed me and my older sister under the care of my grandmother so that she didn’t appear abandoned. My parents and my younger sister continued to live in a city where my father was the bank president. I was ten, old enough to understand my father’s decision.

I actually have many happy memories of that time—chasing grasshoppers with friends, fishing for little carp in the stream, eating cotton blossoms, and sucking on sugar cane in a neighbor’s fields. In that small farming village, I often heard old clan women gossip. They usually talked about their lives and lives of others who were not present, and even their ancestors’ lives that had been told before more than once.

One day I overheard them talk excitedly about a woman from Seoul who was brought to a house of a minor clan man in his forties to be his wife without any wedding announcement or ceremony. They said the woman was beautiful and looked as though she had some money. Even though they didn’t say it aloud, I could tell that they wondered why such a woman would marry him, an unremarkable widower. It seemed a relative of a distant clan woman arranged the marriage.

I passed by the widower’s house at least once a day to take a look at the widower’s bride. When I finally saw her, even I knew at age eleven that she was a very different kind than what I was used to. A woman of beauty was rare in that sun-splashed village where people’s skin took on a coloring of scorched-rice. Not only was she beautiful with pearly smooth skin, but also was poised like a noble woman in her manners and dress. Why indeed would such a woman come to this sleepy village to live with a man who didn’t possess looks, status, wit, resources, or close relations?

Before I could learn more about the woman, my sister and I joined our parents in a city. When I visited my clan village again the following year, no one talked about the woman. No one said so but my hunch was that she no longer lived there with the widower.

The title of my next novel is The Woman Who Came on a Night Train. I am having fun letting my imagination stretch to weave a story about a woman whose sudden presence in a small insulated village stirs the villagers and changes three lives.

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Categorized as General

I am Working on My Second Novel

When my grandfather passed away, my parents placed me and my older sister under the care of my grandmother so that she didn’t appear abandoned. My parents and my younger sister continued to live in a city where my father was the bank president. I was ten, old enough to understand my father’s decision.

I actually have many happy memories of that time—chasing grasshoppers with friends, fishing for little carp in the stream, eating cotton blossoms, and sucking on sugar cane in a neighbor’s fields. In that small farming village, I often heard old clan women gossip. They usually talked about their lives and lives of others who were not present, and even their ancestors’ lives that had been told before more than once.

One day I overheard them talk excitedly about a woman from Seoul who was brought to a house of a minor clan man in his forties to be his wife without any wedding announcement or ceremony. They said the woman was beautiful and looked as though she had some money. Even though they didn’t say it aloud, I could tell that they wondered why such a woman would marry him, an unremarkable widower. It seemed a relative of a distant clan woman arranged the marriage.

I passed by the widower’s house at least once a day to take a look at the widower’s bride. When I finally saw her, even I knew at age eleven that she was a very different kind than what I was used to. A woman of beauty was rare in that sun-splashed village where people’s skin took on a coloring of scorched-rice. Not only was she beautiful with pearly smooth skin, but also was poised like a noble woman in her manners and dress. Why indeed would such a woman come to this sleepy village to live with a man who didn’t possess looks, status, wit, resources, or close relations?

Before I could learn more about the woman, my sister and I joined our parents in a city. When I visited my clan village again the following year, no one talked about the woman. No one said so but my hunch was that she no longer lived there with the widower.

The title of my next novel is The Woman Who Came on a Night Train. I am having fun letting my imagination stretch to weave a story about a woman whose sudden presence in a small insulated village stirs the villagers and changes three lives.

Published
Categorized as General

Korean History Very Briefly Told

Do you wonder how the people of the world came to look the way we do? My theory is that we all looked the same when the first humans started migrating from Africa. I can understand the reasons for the varied pigments of our skin, eyes, and hair, but why do Koreans have the smallest eyes and the Japanese shortest legs? I read this somewhere by the way, but what purpose do these attributes serve?

Back to Korea: One group of early humans continued to migrate from Africa to East Siberia then toward the Korean peninsula. Along the way, they got friendly with the Neanderthals for a time and mixed with another group of people. About half a million years ago, they arrived on the Korean peninsula during the early phase of the Stone Age. In 2333 BC, Korea was founded under the leadership of Dangun. The legend goes that he was the grandson of heaven and the son of a bear. His mother was said to be a tiger. It is likely that he was an offspring of a leader of a bear tribe and she an esteemed daughter of a tiger tribe.

Throughout its 4,300-year-old history, Korea has been repeatedly attacked by the ruling dynasties of China, the Mongols, and Japan. During the Japanese occupation (between 1910 and 1945), there were many independence movement leaders. Rhee Syngman and Kim Ilsung were the two most notable leaders. After Japan surrendered, Korea was divided along the 38th parallel line. Kim Ilsung founded North Korea backed by the communist USSR (now Russia) and Rhee Syngman became the first president of South Korea backed by the U.S. Before the Korean War, North Korea was wealthier than South Korea, but it was decimated by the allied forces during the war. Now South Korea is the 10th largest economy in the world and the 4th in Asia in 2021. My novel, Sonju, depicts Korea’s struggle to become economic power in the world we see today. 

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Categorized as General

How I Became Interested in Writing

When I was ten years old, my older sister and I moved to my clan village without my parents after my grandfather’s passing. At that time in Korea, it was customary for the oldest son to live with his parents. My father was a banker, which necessitated that he move with some frequency as he was promoted to higher positions in different cities. He could not leave his job, so to save face, he sent his two oldest daughters (my brother was in Seoul attending high school) to live with his newly-widowed mother.

In my clan village, I had a teacher who introduced me to a writing teacher. This writing teacher excused me from doing homework and instead had me write five stories a day. He critiqued those stories every day after school. After nine months of his coaching, I was sent to a province-wide writing competition for elementary students. I won the competition and made my whole school proud. I decided to be a writer then and even studied Journalism at Ewha Womans University. But, as every good story goes, life got in the way of my writing.

Published
Categorized as General