Hwang Sok-yong "anti-American pro North Korean toady"?
On a recent post concerning Hwang Sok-yong's reference to smallpox as a 'Western' disease, an anonymous poster left the following comment:
It is well known that Hwang Sok-yong is an anti-American pro North [K]orean toady.I replied with perhaps more detail than necessary since no evidence was cited, but this point about his putative pro North Korean views is something that I wanted to follow up anyway:
Anonymous, I suppose that I'll find out when I read the book, but my impression is that he's more complex than that, for The Guest was criticized in North Korea -- or, at least, Hwang makes the claim that it was. I'll try to find out for sure, but this sounds plausible since the quote that I noted sounds rather critical of Marxism (as another 'Western' disease).Here's more precisely what Hwang states in his "Author's Note" to The Guest:
Today, in a district known as Sinch'ŏn in Hwanghae Province, there stands a museum that indicts the American military for the massacre of innocents. The literal translation of the museum's name is "The American Imperialist Massacre Remembrance Museum." Many years ago, when I visited the North, I was given a tour of this museum as a matter of course.The term "statists" is a bit odd, especially in connection with South Korea, where I'm unsure what it means, but this hardly sounds like the writing of "an anti-American pro North [K]orean toady." Neither does this passage in the novel itself as the Christian minister Ryu Yosŏp listens to 'witnesses' of the 'American Imperialist Massacre':
Later on, during my stay in New York, I met a Korean minister named Ryu and heard the eyewitness account of his childhood in Hwanghae Province. Not too long afterwards, in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to meet another survivor who shared with me her detailed firsthand account of the actual wartime incident that led to the founding of the aforementioned museum.
As it turns out, the atrocities were committed by none other than ourselves, and the inner sense of guilt and fear sparked by this incident helped form the roots of the frantic hatred that thrives to this day. Less than five years ago, when I completed The Guest, I received fierce attacks from both Southern and Northern statists. (pages 8-9)
Their words flitted past, like short sentences typed out on a keyboard, typing away Yosŏp's past and future. They all said "the American troops," but Yosŏp knew for a fact that the troops had simply been passing through. They were never stationed in Sinch'ŏn; they were in a rush to get further north. Both Yosŏp and his brother Yohan knew for a fact that during those forty-five days, before the arrival of the U.S. troops and after their departure, most of the military strength in the area had consisted of the security forces and the Youth Corps -- all Korean. (page 99)With passages like these -- clearly contradicting the North's propaganda on the Hwanghae Province 'massacre' -- Hwang Sok-yong can hardly be called a "pro North [K]orean toady."
Perhaps this point was never in serious doubt, but since I've looking into Hwang's reference to smallpox as a Western/western disease, then I felt the point about Hwang's politics needed to be firmly established.