Yesterday I finished to read a novel “This Paradise Of Yours” by YI Choung-Jun in Korean. The original title is 당신들의 천국, by 이청준.
Could you understand all?
I’m afraid not…(My native language is Japanese. I am learning Korean), I didn’t understand every word, but I was so interested in it!
The novel was published in 1976 in South Korea.
The story is about one leader…CHO Bek-hun, the active military officer worked as the hospital superintendent in the island where the lepers were secluded. He was the effective sovereign (dictator) of the island.
Lepers… people having Hansen disease. Was they secluded?
Yes, Since in the era of Japanese colonial rule. It’s true story and there was a model of CHO Bek-hun.
He was in fact a dictator. But he really, I believe, hope to make lepers’ paradise in the island. He organized the senior’s committee constituted by senior lepers, the soccer team of young male lepers… and the team even won the championship in some soccer tournament in mainland of South Korea!
Great!! He was a hero, wasn’t he?
…That’s the very interesting point of the novel…He wasn’t. He couldn’t be. Some people in the island never allowed it.
First, because there were hard history in the island. In Japanese colonial era, the island ruled by Japanese. And there was notorious Japanese hospital superintendent CHU Jeoung-soo (the name was Korean style, but I think his real name was SHUU Masahide) and his violent assistant Sato.
The Japanese sovereign SHUU also declared and promised lepers that he would build “Paradise of you” with them. Like CHO Bek-hun declared.
Actually, SHUU built some good infrastructure by lepers’ labour. At first, lepers were excited for the dream of their paradise and worked with joy.
But SHUU gradually became a tyranny. He got to build something for his honor, having set lepers to heavy labour for it. And Sato abused them during the forced labour.
At last, SHUU effectively forced lepers to want to build the bronze statue of SHUU…
Oh my god… So some people kept guard on CHO Bek-hun! A hero might become a tyranny!
But there was another reason.
I want you to read this great novel so I won’t tell you all, but just…
What would you do if you were a Hebrew in the Exodus, and Moses were not actually a Hebrew but the real prince of Egypt?
And what would you do if you had another place to really hope to go besides Canaan…?
Why the Exodus…? Was CHO Bek-hun Moses? Would he make way on the sea and walked there?