I Met Loh Kiwan
- About the Book
This captivating short novel follows the journey of North Korean refugee Loh Kiwan to a place where he doesn’t speak the language or understand the customs. Loh’s story of hardship and determination is gradually revealed in flashbacks by the narrator, Kim, a writer for a South Korean TV show, who learned about Loh from a news report. She traces his progress from North Korea to Brussels to London as he struggles to make his way and find a home in an unfamiliar world.
Readers come to see that Kim, too, has embarked on a journey, one driven by her need to understand what drives people to live, even thrive, despite tremendous loss and despair. Her own conflicted feelings of personal and professional guilt are mirrored in the novel’s other characters: Jae, Kim’s romantic interest and producer of the TV show she once wrote for; Yunju, a young cancer victim whose illness she now regrets exploiting; Pak, a doctor who helped Loh in Brussels, yet suffers deep remorse over the many life and death decisions he has made for his patients. Author Cho Haejin weaves these characters into a story of hope and trust, one that asks basic questions about what it means to be human and humane.
First published in 2011 in South Korea, this timely and moving story won the 2013 Shin Dong-yup Prize for Literature.
- About the Authors
- Since winning the Munye Chungang’s Newcomer’s Award for her writing debut in 2004, Cho Haejin has solidified her reputation as one of South Korea’s major writers with four novels and three collections of short stories. Her works have been shortlisted for most of the major literary awards in Korea and won several, including the 2016 Yi Hyo-seok Literary Prize and the 2013 Shin Dong-yup Prize for Literature for the novel I Met Loh Kiwan. Described as a writer of compassion and tenderness, her works highlight people pushed to the margins of society, people viewed as “others” (t’aja) by those, both within Korea and beyond, who inhabit society’s presumed mainstream.
- Ji-Eun Lee is associate professor of Korean language and literature at Washington University in St. Louis.
- Subject Areas