News Release: Short List of 2020 Pak Kyo..
Works of Five Writers Short-listed for 2020 Pak Kyongni Prize Bringing
Attention to ‘Cultural Solution’ on How Their Literary Works Heal
Contradictions and Conflicts of Society
This is an interview article
with Kim Uchang, chairperson of The 2020 Pak Kyongni Prize and emeritus
professor of Korea University. This appeared in Dong-A Il-bo, one of Korea's major daily newspapers. 2020
marks the 10th year of Pak Kyongni Prize and five writers were
short-listed for the Prize this year. The candidates include Ben Okri (born in
1959, Nigeria), Seo Jeong-in (born in
1936, Korea), Yun Heunggil (born in 1942, Korea), Jonathan Franzen (born in
1959, the U.S.), and Hwang Sok-yong (born in 1943, Korea).
Kyongni Prize was established in 2011 by Toji Cultural Foundation to commemorate
the late Pak Kyongni (1926 – 2008), who wrote her life-long 20-volume Toji, the epic sage of Korea’s modern
history involving generations of a family, The Prize is awarded to a writer
with life-long literary achievements evident in the entire body of works by one
author, not just a single title of excellence. It is the first international
level literary award for writers from around the world.
should not fail to closely link ideological frames such as undeniable
experience, society, politics, and history,” Kim Uchang, chairperson of the
Committee, said. “Five novelists were shortlisted. They exposed contradictions
and conflicts taking place in society and tried to show in their works that
they edge toward a solution of cultural bearings with their own unique
perspectives, which brought them to the short list of this year.”
is noteworthy that three Korean writers are included in the short list of 2020.
The glory of the first 2011 Pak Kyongni Prize winner went to Choi In-hun
(1936-2018), Korean writer. Since then, writers from global community have been
honored for eight consecutive years. “The 2020 Pak Kyongni Prize Selection
Committee has directed its eyes to literary works of Korean writers who tried to
seek after a key not only to looking at realities as they were, but to rising
above them in the fights and campaigns of Koreans against the Japanese rule
from 1910 to 1945, in the independence that followed, in the nationalism, and
in the socialism, while being exposed to major, unprecedented historic changes
all at the same time that were rarely witnessed around the world,” the
Okri is a Nigerian poet and novelist, who is often described as one of the
foremost African authors. His major works among novels, poetry, essays and
short story collections include The Famished Road (1991), Songs of Enchantment
(1993), Infinite Riches (1998), and The Age of Magic (2014). He is widely
considered one of Africa’s leading writers. “The Famished Road is his
representative work that shows the world of a magical realism, where one world
of colony capitalism and the other fantasy, fairy-tale world of unexploited old-growth
forest appear at the same time,” Kim Uchang commented.
Jeong-in is a Korean novelist. He wrote novels depicting many facets of the
Korean society, using sense of humor and ironic tone, through sharply critical
conscience of writers, rather than showing how ideologically conflicting or how
much confusing the society was. He has written short stories, short story
collections, and novels and his representative work, among others, includes Dalgung,
Story of Bakdalmak. “Seo Jeong-in brought out works designed to break free of
and transcend the history, while using the art of symbolism, existential
perspectives, and narrative technique,” the chairperson mentioned.
Heunggil is also a Korean novelist. His representative novels, The Rainy Spell
(1973) and The Tattoo (2018), depicted a concerted effort of humans working
hard to rise above perverted realities of the history as well as the absurdity
and a labyrinth of irregularities in life, through tragedies of the Korean War,
a myriad of ideological conflicts and the industrialization. “His works plainly
show contradictions and conflicts of the traditional society, the
pre-industrial society, just the way they were. “Works of Yun Heunggil show the
likelihood of reconciliation through emotional, basic bonding that runs deep beneath
the traditional Korean society, while revealing the way the things actually
were, namely, contradictions and conflicts in the pre-industrial society of
Korea,” Kim Uchang, the chairperson, remarked.
Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. In The Corrections (2001) and
Freedom (2010), two of which are also among his critically finest works, Jonathan
Franzen described the American society with a broad view through middle income
family stories combined with farce and tragedy. He is considered one of highly
acclaimed, popular writers in the American literature. His writing encompasses environment,
values of sincerity, and many other subjects.
Sok-yong is a Korean novelist. In Strange Land (1971) and On the Road to Sampo
(1973), he continuously endeavored to embody the ordeal of Korea’s modern
history and the life of the working class. The Three Generations of Railroad
Worker (2020), the most recent work, depicts major tendencies stretching over
the modernization of Korea under the Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945,
liberation campaigns and movement that eventually led up to the freedom in
1945, and socialism movement afterward. “Idea with philosophy and crusade take
up the principle of wholeness demonstrated in his novels,” Kim Uchang said.
year Pak Kyongni Prize Selection Committee is comprised to decide one prize
winner. Chairperson of The 2020 Pak Kyongni Prize Selection Committee is Kim
Uchang, emeritus professor of Korea University, and the Committee has five
other members: Kwon gi-dae, translator; Kim Seung-ok, emeritus professor of
Korea University; Lee se-gi, novelist; Yoo Seok-ho, emeritus professor of Yon
Sei University; and Chang Kyung-ryul, emeritus professor of Seoul National
final winner will be announced on Sep., 17 and the award ceremony will take
place on Oct., 24 in Toji Cultural Centre, Wonju city, Korea.