Tolstoy and Koreans
His grave in Pyongyang. Photo |
courtesy of Prof. Y. K. Lee of the
Johns Hopkins University.
- One hundred years ago, Korean boys were not allowed to talk with girls.
These days, they talk too much. How did this happen? During the
period 1920-40, Korean men and women started exchanging love letters.
During this period, many Korean authors wrote romance stories.
Among them, the towering figure was Yi Kwang-su. How did he become
so prominent? It is because his romance novels accurately hit the
hearts and minds of Koreans. The other side of Yi Kwang-su's talent
was that he was able to digest the Russian literature.
Most of his romance stories are variations of Tolstoy's Anna Karerina. From these, we can conclude that Koreans practice their romance in the way Russians do. Thus, it will be quite natural for Koreans to share the same romantic world as Russians do. I invented this theory and am conducting experiments. Whenever I meet Russian ladies, I become very happy. It is like meeting my cousins, or ex-class mates. We find so many things in common.
- Click here for a
- In this photo, a Russian girl was reading a book on a
paddle boat parked on the Volga beach near Kazan (Russia). She was 15
years old. I boarded her boat and asked her what she was reading.
She said "War and Peace" by Tolstoy. I asked her whether she read
"Anna Karenina," and she said it is her next book to read. We talked
about Tolstoy and other Russian writers. To me, it was just like talking
with a Korean girl.
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copyright@2003 by Y. S. Kim, unless otherwise specified.