THE GUEST BY HWANG SOK-YONG

Hwang Sok -Yong was born in the 40’s when Japan was in Korea ,he has always been involved in politics been arrested on a number of occasions and in 90’s jailed for his activities in north Korea as a southern korean he was jailed for 7 years but after a campaign from PEN was release  .he has written numerous novels and all so spent a lot of time in America and fought for america in the Vietnam war .THe guest starts of the story of two exiled brothers from Korea living in new york and new jersey .THE main character Ryu Yosop the younger brother has found a way to return for a visit to North Korea ,and is visiting his brother Ryu Yohan in New Jersey .his brother isn’t so keen on the idea but gives his blessing but before he travel Yosop brother die he ,take a bone after cremation to take part of his brother home to Korea and the area they grew up which is now in north Korea .Just before the journey is told there is a change in policy and they have to travel to Pyong yang the capital not th area he is from ,on arrival the american Korean visitors are met by 3 guides that are stern and tow the Government line .he does meet his family and an incident that happened more than forty years ago is brought to life and what happen to the family members that where left behind when the north became the North .

The homeland visitors were taken to the Koryo Hotel and ,in the lobby ,introduced to their guides ;two men and one women .the first man ,in his fifties was rather fat and had beady eyes ;the other in his forties had oiled and neatly combed hair every last strand of his hair all the way back .this second man was extremely thin and looked particularly high-strung .The women looked suave ,though she too was somewhat on the plump side .She had a high soprano voice .

Ryu Yosop meets his 3 North Korean guides .

This book is about so many things war ,the aftermath of war belonging changes ,returning to your home and not quite belonging ,family .It is a powerful story on so many levels and gave me a wonderful in sight into the Korean life and how it affects people in the north Korea .the book is equal parts horror and Beauty in parts .some places in maybe drifts into an anti American polemic .I really enjoyed it and found it a refreshing insight into a country and society I knew very little about .

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Book Whisperer
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 05:36:58

    Sounds like a great book, Stu. Although I devour books about China and have had a fair few set in Japan, I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything set in Korea. I may have to give this a go – it sounds interesting.

    Reply

  2. Iris
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 07:35:46

    Korea is a new country to read from for me, this one sounds interesting!

    Reply

  3. JoV
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:07:32

    Thank you for introducing me to a book about Korea. Book whisperer is right, while I read many books on China and Japan, I have yet to read one on Korea. I’ll have to read a book about Korea soon! 😉

    Reply

  4. Petty Witter
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 12:55:07

    Saw you mentioned over at Life Is A Patchwork Quilt and thought I’d stop by to say hello. Nice to have met you, I’ve enjoyed visiting.

    Reply

  5. amymckie
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 16:12:36

    Sounds like an interesting book Stu. I haven’t read anything set in Korea I don’t think.

    Reply

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