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Questioning Minds

Editor: Yung-hee Kim
Author: , , , , , , , , ,
Translated by:
Publisher: , 2010.
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Available for the first time in English, the ten short stories by modern Korean women collected here touch in one way or another on issues related to gender and kinship politics. All of the protagonists are women who face personal crises or defining moments in their lives as gender-marked beings in a Confucian, patriarchal Korean society. Their personal dreams and values have been compromised by gender expectations or their own illusions about female existence. They are compelled to ask themselves “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” “What are my choices?” Each story bears colorful and compelling testimony to the life of the heroine. Some of the stories celebrate the central character’s breakaway from the patriarchal order; others expose sexual inequality and highlight the struggle for personal autonomy and dignity. Still others reveal the abrupt awakening to mid-life crises and the seasoned wisdom that comes with accepting the limits of old age.

The stories are arranged in chronological order, from the earliest work by Korea’s first modern woman writer in 1917 to stories that appeared in 1995—approximately one from each decade. Most of the writers presented are recognized literary figures, but some are lesser-known voices. The introduction presents a historical overview of traditions of modern Korean women’s fiction, situating the selected writers and their stories in the larger context of Korean literature. Each story is accompanied by a biographical note on the author and a brief critical analysis. A selected bibliography is provided for further reading and research.

Questioning Minds marks a departure from existing translations of Korean literature in terms of its objectives, content, and format. As such it will contribute to the growth of Korean studies, increasing the availability of material for teaching Korean literature in English, and stimulate readership of its writers beyond the confines of the peninsula.

Yung-Hee Kim, Translator

Yung-Hee Kim is Professor of Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her publications include Questioning Minds: Short Stories by Modern Korean Women Writers and Readings in Modern Korean Literature (co-authored).
Yung-Hee Kim, Introducer

Yung-Hee Kim is Professor of Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her publications include Questioning Minds: Short Stories by Modern Korean Women Writers and Readings in Modern Korean Literature (co-authored).

The collection contains the following short stories:

Kim Myeong-sun: A Girl of Mystery (1917)
Na Hye-seok: Kyeonghui (1918)
Kim Won-ju: Awakening (1926)
Hahn Moo-Sook: Hydrangeas (1949)
Kang Shin-jae: The Mist (1950)
Song Won-hui: When Autumn Leaves Fall (1961)
Yi Sun: A dish of sliced raw fish (1979)
Yi Seok-pong: The light at dawn (1985)
Ch’oe Yun: Stone in your heart (1992)
Park Wan-suh: Dried Flowers (1995)

Read a review by Charles Montgomery here. Entry on Goodreads.com here.