Happy Birthday Han Kang!
Han Kang – born November 27, 1970 – Korean novelist
Read the Wikipedia article about Han Kang here.
Read a review of Kang’s novel Human Acts here.
Two thirds of the way into Human Acts, a victim of the torture carried out during the 1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea remarks of the Korean platoons who had previously committed atrocities in Vietnam: “Some of those who came to slaughter us did so with the memory of those previous times.” Pages later, we’re reminded of a remark made by President Park Chung-hee’s bodyguard: “The Cambodian government’s killed another two million of theirs. There’s nothing stopping us from doing the same.” It leaves little reason to doubt the veracity of the novel’s assertion that “There is no way back to the world before the torture. No way back to the world before the massacre.”
When Park, South Korea’s military dictator, was assassinated in 1979, civil unrest ensued and martial law was imposed. Recently unionised workers protested their working conditions. Greater democratisation was called for and the increasingly authoritarian government responded in the traditional fashion. On 18 May 1980, protesting students at Jeonnam University were fired upon and beaten by government troops. Outrage was widespread and citizens of all ranks took to the streets in solidarity.
[From the Guardian book review, February 13, 2016]
Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith discuss Kang’s Man Booker prize-winning The Vegetarian: