Another man’s city by Ch’oe In-Ho

Another man’s city by Ch’oe In-ho

Korean fiction

Original title -Nat Igun t’aindul ui tosi

Translators – Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton

Source – review copy

“City Sickness”

I’m crawling, don’t know where to or from
The centre of things from where everything stems
Is not where I belong
And the city sickness, growing inside me
So this is where I ran for freedom
Where I may not be free

I have these hands beating with love for you
And you’re not here to touch
Sent you away, what else can I do
When I need something that much?
I’m hurting babe, in the city there’s no place for love
It’s just used to make people feel better

I choose the Tinderstick as the mood of this song fitted the book .

Born in Seoul He studied english at university, when he left he started writing publishing his first story in 1967 .Which won a prize, he won a bigger prize with his book Deep blue night. He died two years ago and was remembered a year late when his hand prints were put on a street where he used to drink a lot .I was sent the third set of  library of Korean Literature books the 11- 15 in the series. I read a Pavane for a dead princess and wasn’t bowled over by it I felt it was maybe to Korean for me.But then earlier this year Tony reviewed this book and it made me pick it up .



What the hell? K groped the fuzzy boundary between sleep and wakefulness for an answer – what had awakened him?

His alarm clock. The strident ring a desperate cry letting the world know of its existence. Again the shrill clamor.

Dammit! K didn’t like being woken up. He fumbled at the nightstand found the alarm click, silenced .

He wasn’t fully awake. But he was conscious enough to splice the snapped filmstrip of his interrupted sleep, and he closed his eyes

The opening and a dazed K wakes up , I love that line” snapped filmstrip of his interupted sleep “

Another man’s city should really be subtitled Kafka does Korea . We find K a man who likes a drink that seems to get swallowed into a nightmare version of his hometown Seoul .So over the course of the weekend he has lost a period of time .We follow him as he tries to find what happened in this time. But is this real of a VR world one is never sure if this is the case. It is a shifting world he is in maybe electronic or maybe as he sobers up.

Well thought K, there was that one and half hour gap in the filmstrip of his memory, but he couldn’t recall anything that might have caused a concussion. He hadn’t noticed any marks on his head, no evidence of bleeding, no signs of trauma, no headache .

What happend in the missing reel of his life film,  so to speak ?

I over time have found writers ripple through time and place, the great writers  we all know and love have had a knock effect where it is Kafka who has influenced this writer. This is one of a number of books over the years I have reviewed that have been influenced by Kafka from the obvious books like Claudel’s The investigation through books like Muller’s The appointment. Here Kafka raises his head from the main characters name K to being trapped in a world. I was also reminded of fims like the matrix where the world around the lead character is a shifting one.Then there is the other side of the book the fact K is a drinking from what I can gather the writer himself was a bit of a drinker so may have also experienced lost time which many of us did in our youth but not 99 mins like here alsommaybe in a strange way Withnail and I where the time in the weekend away the spend stretches and shrinks as the weekend goes along .An interesting take on being trapped in a world and not knowing fully where it is .I view this as more a comment on the speed and way of the modern world where every minute is noted these days so losing a chunk of time is unknown now.

Have you read any of the Library of Korean Literature series ?

All things Korean the library of Korean Literature

I was lucky enough to have an invite to the launch of the next group of books in the library of Korean literature series , as ever I was unable to go which was a shame as Tony has been reviewing  loads of these books and has really made me want to find out more , so i was pleased when they said they could send me the books for review .This project is part of Korea trying to bring its culture to the fore around the world from films like Oldboy to K-pop music we all remember the huge K-pop hit last year Gangham style , even myself I’m just about to change my phone to the Korean as i leave behind iPhone and get a new note 4 this month .for more on Korean literature visit the LTI Korea site 


IMG_2012I received them all the other day and have already read the first book in the series Pavane for a dead princess by Park Min-Gyu a review of which will follow shortly .About the series from the launch party  –

Helen Cho, Literature Translation of Korean, department of translation and publication, said: “The

publication of the Library of Korean Literature series is a noteworthy accomplishment since translated

books make up only 2% of the entire U.S. market. The titles in the series draw from major works of

Korean modern and contemporary literature. It is hoped that this series will serve as a channel for

introducing diverse aspects of Korean literature to the English-speaking book market.”

John O’Brien, CEO, Dalkey Archive Press said: ” The Library of Korean Literature is a rare effort at

ensuring works of high literary merit from Asia reach the public at a time only a few hundred literary

works in translation are being published in the English-speaking world. Even Arts Council England,

which for years was leading the way in support of literary translation, has dropped almost all mention

of translations in its current programmes. The series launched when Korea was Market Focus at The

London Book Fair in 2014, which helped dispel the myth that there was one singular ‘MASH’ kind of

writing that characterized contemporary Korean literature. The Market Focus and the British Council’s

endeavours were a beginning rather than an end to bringing this literature to the West.”

IMG_2006Have you a favourite book from Korea

August 2021


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