Evening Star

(Gaebapbaragibyeol)

Hwang Sok-yong

Published in French as L’étoile du chien qui attend son repas (a translation of an alternative Korean name for Venus).

‘For the first time, the great intellectual Hwang Sok-yong throws himself into something “that is in no way abstract – dying or living, these were the two possibilities offered” Very moving.’ Le Monde

‘A youth living under military dictatorship, subjected to violence… but a youth who fights, reads, writes, discusses and looks for a meaning to life. Letting yourself be led by Hwang Sok-yong’s pen is a true pleasure. A coming of age novel, a journey, this novel also allows the reader to discover Korea.’ La Croix

The suicide rate amongst young people in South Korea is the highest in the world and Hwang Sok-yong wanted to write a novel that might help those contemplating suicide. He started writing this largely autobiographic novel on a blog and the response was overwhelming. EVENING STAR (Gaebapbaragibyeol, 2008) has sold over a million copies in South Korea.

The story takes place in the sixties, Chun and his friend Inho abandon their studies to go live in a cave and then set off on a long trek around their country, a country still marked by Japanese occupation and war. Returning to Soeul, the pick up their studies again, forming a group with their new friend the painter Chang Mu, spending their time in café Mozart. Chun and Mu start a love story which leads them to the Island of Cheju but Mu dies of tuberculoses and Chun is arrested for demonstrating. In prison he meets the ‘Lieutenant’ and leaves with him to work on building sites and on the sea. That’s when, one beautiful night, he discovers the ‘star for the dog who awaits his dinner’, also known as Venus. Finally, after having wanted to become a monk and survived a suicide attempt, he is conscripted into the army. This is a beautiful coming-of-age tale where first loves and friendships mix with spiritual searching, desire for freedom, ending ironically with the main character’s departure for Vietnam, called up for the American war which is not his own.

Sales

  • Munhakdongne Korea
  • Editions Serge Safran France
  • Thaqafa Arabic

Material: Korean and French editions (249pp)