The London Book Fair Korea Market Focus 2014: Families, Relationships and Society

Kyung-sook ShinHan Kang and Kerry Hudson; Chaired by Rachel Holmes

The shock of modernity has had a profound effect on Korean society, and the families and the relationships of its people. Acclaimed novelists Kyung-sook Shin and Han Kang discuss how their work examines the conflict between the traditional and the modern and the space between the young and the old.

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Date: Wednesday 9 April, 14.30-15.30
Venue: Whitehall Room, Earls Court


Kyung-sook Shin was born in 1963 and is part of the ‘386 generation’, a cohort of young Koreans who were particularly politically active in the democracy movement of the 1980s. Despite her political involvement, however, her works look inwards at her characters’ psychological wounds and difficulty in reconciling themselves to their present and future. Her novel Please Look After Mother has sold over two million copies in Korea and won the Man Asian Literary Prize, and is available in translation in English. The novel struck a chord in Korea; the story of a rural woman becoming lost in Seoul while attempting to visit her children in the city contains profound echoes of the anxiety in Korea over the recent shift from the traditional to the modern. Her other novels include I’ll be Right There, A Lone Room, The Strawberry Field, and Lee Jin. In 2011, Kyung-sook Shin taught at Columbia University in New York as a visiting scholar.


Han Kang was born in 1970 in Gwangju, Korea. When she was ten years old, her family moved to Seoul where she spent her formative years. Han made her literary debut firstly as a poet in 1993 and then again as a novelist in 1994. She has been steadily publishing novels since. The works of Han Kang have been enthusiastically received by both critics and readers alike for their profound exploration of human nature through the author’s delicate yet powerful writing style. As if to say that our daily lives, the numerable socially accepted ideas that support those lives, and furthermore, the condition of being human itself constitute an unbearable violence, Han’s characters embrace their vivid, painful sensationsand navigate their lives with refined fortitude.She has published collections of short stories including Love in Yeosu, A Yellow Patterned Eternity, and The Fruits of My Woman as well as novels including Your Cold HandBlack Deer, Greek Lessons, and The Vegetarian. Among them, The Vegetarian combines human violence and the possibility of innocence as the thematic material with a vegetablesque imagination. This frightening beauty of a novel has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese,Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese and was also adapted into a film. Han participated in the Writers’ Workshop programme hosted bythe University of Iowa in 1998. Currently, she is a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Seoul Institute of the Arts.

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