Park Wan-suh: A Writer's Vocation
As some readers have probably noticed, I've been working to finish a short review of Park Wan-suh's autobiographical 'novel' Who Ate Up All the Shinga?, and I've now completed a rough draft, from which I provide the following material that makes up part of my introduction:
The author herself appeared somewhat late on the Korean literary scene with her first novel, Namok (The Naked Tree), published in 1970, when she was nearly forty, and though one might imagine that she had also come late to recognize her vocation as a writer, Shinga tells otherwise. In the penultimate paragraph of the final chapter, significantly titled "Epiphany," the bewildered and frightened Park finds herself and her family trapped during the Korean War in an utterly abandoned Seoul confronted with the threat of its imminent reoccupation by Communist forces, apparently a cul de sac:The remainder of my short review looks briefly at this process, but I'll report on that after the review is published . . . if it gets published.But an abrupt change in perspective hit me. I felt as though I'd been chased into a dead end but then suddenly turned around. Surely there was meaning in my being the sole witness to it all. How many bizarre events had conspired to make us the only ones left behind? If I were the sole witness, I had responsibility to record it. (248)In the passage that follows, which is the final paragraph of the book, Park adds, "From all this came a vision that I would write someday, and this premonition dispelled my fear" (248). The abruptness of her epiphany might suggest that Park's development as a writer stemmed from that moment as its initiatory point, but the author herself shows us that the process was already long in motion.
One never knows . . .