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N. Korean defector-turned writer publishes novel on Hwang Jang-yeop

N. Korean defector-turned writer publishes novel on Hwang Jang-yeop

Posted October. 10, 2013 06:35,   


Lim Il, a North Korean defector-turned writer, published "Novel Hwang Jang-yeop" to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of former North Korean Workers` Party secretary Hwang Jang-yeop. At age 87, Hwang passed away on Oct. 10, 2010. Lim defected to South Korea in 1997 while working at North Korean trade representative office in Kuwait, and published "Novel Kim Jong Il" in 2011.

Lim said, "I came to South Korea on March 26, 1997 and Hwang came a month later. I heard his news while watching a TV at a public authorities safety house, and said to myself that the fact that a powerful figure like Hwang turned back on North Korea means that the North Korean regime would not last long."

He decided to write the novel while participating the first memorial service for Hwang. He said, "Hwang was an elite, scholar and politician and the center of spreading democracy in North Korea, who experienced both South and North Korea. It was sad that such a man was being forgotten so easily and fast."

The book has two editions. Part 1 is about Hwang`s defection until 1997, and Part 2 tells a story until Hwang`s death in 2010. Part 1 focuses on Hwang`s change of state of mind until he decided to defect. Lim said, "The Juche idea that Hwang had established degenerated to be used as tool for cult of personality, and he could do nothing to care for North Korean people left in despair. “I wrote the book and wanted to reflect his feeling of helplessness and agitation," Lim added.

The novel has many episodes that show Hwang`s humane qualities. One episode describes Hwang going to a department store in Beijing to watch for chances for defection to South Korean embassy. There he recalls his granddaughter living in the North while buying cookies and candies. Lim said, "I left my wife and a two-year-old daughter at Pyongyang. My daughter, if still alive, would be a grown-up now. I projected the complex feelings when I decided to defect while in Kuwait on to Hwang."

The two years of writing were not an easy job. He had listened to Hwang`s lectures to learn his thoughts, but fleshing out a story as Hwang as the main character was a different thing. Lim said, "Hwang had an upright nature and was a scholar. Embodying him into a novel was difficult. When I couldn`t go on, I read Hwang`s memoirs and books and imagined how he would have acted."

Lim plans to visit the Daejeon National Cemetery where Hwang is buried with the book. He said, "I will tell him that I have written a novel of him and his life. My next book will be about the process of South-North reunification."