At the end of June Kim Aeran was in town, courtesy of the Asia Literary Review and the Literary Translation institute of Korea, to meet the finalists of the 2018 essay contest in which readers were given free rein to write about one or all of three of her works: two short stories: A Dignified Existence (also known as Ascending Scales) and Where would you like to go?; and a chapter her novel My Palpitating Life. As well as being present for the award ceremony, she attended a screening of EJ-Yong’s adaptation of the novel and answered the audience’s questions afterwards.
The essay competition attracted a number of international entries, some of whom featured in the finalist shortlist, and the joint winners were Claire Gullander-Drolet, a Literature PhD candidate at Brown University, Rhode Island, USA and Scott Shepherd, a part-time student of Korean at SOAS.
The two winning essays, which explore the challenges of making one’s way in Hell Joseon, can be read on the ALR website.
At both the award ceremony and film screening Kim Aeran gave generous and thoughtful responses to audience questions, leaving us hoping that she would return to London soon.