Download Epub Format ó 소년이 온다 PDF by ô Han Kang Human Acts is the author Han Kang s attempt to make some kind of peace with the knowledge and images of the Gwangju massacre in South Korea in 1980 Her family had left that city just one year before when she was 10 years old, when the 10 day uprising occurred, but she became aware of it through the overheard, whispered conversations of her family and the silence that surrounded them speaking of the home where they used to live, she learned three young people from that household had lost their lives, one, a boy Dong Ho probably shared the same room she had lived in for many years than he had.
What made the events sear into her mind and perhaps permanently affect her psyche, was the forbidden photobook that was given to her family, books circulated secretly to let survivors know what had really happened, a book her parents tried to hide from their children, but one she sought out, opening its covers to images she would be forever haunted by.
Asked why she felt motivated to write this book my thanks to Naomi at The Writes of Women for her post on the author book discussion at Foyles bookshop , which begins with the immediate after effects of the massacre, the very real logistical management of the bodies, the bereaved, mass memorial rituals and the burials and goes on to enter the after death consciousness of one the victims, seeing things from outside his body she said that that experience of seeing those images left her scared, afraid of human cruelty, struggling to embrace human beings.
It left her with two internal questions below, which were her motivation to enter into this experience and try to write her way out of and the external events of that massacre of the past in her birthplace of Gwangju and then the recent social cleansing that took place in the Yongsan area of Seoul in 2009 1 How can human beings be so violent 2 How could people do something against extreme violence Human Acts, which seems to me to be an interesting play on words, is divided into six chapters or Acts , each from the perspective of a different character affected by the massacre and also using a variety of different narrative voices The opening chapter entitled The Boy, 1980 introduces us to Dong Ho, but seen from outside himself, written in the second person singular narrative voice You It is after the initial violence in the square and something has driven this boy, initially searching for the body of his friend who he witnessed being shot on the first day, to volunteer and help out, confronting him in a visceral way with so much death and tragedy than he had escaped from on the day itself.
We meet the shadow of his friend in the second chapter, as he exits his body, but is unable to escape it, he tries to understand what is happening around him and observes his shattered body and others as they arrive, until something happens that will release him wherupon he senses the death of those close to him, his friend and his sister.
The following chapters skip years, but never the prolonged effect of what happened, the events never leave those scarred by them, the narrative works its way back to the origins of the uprising, to the factory girl, the hard working, little educated group of young women trying to improve their lot, to obtain fair wages and equal rights, the become bolder when they meet in groups and speak of protesting, they educate themselves and each other and feel part of something, a movement and a feeling they wish to express publicly, with the naive assumption they won t be arrested or killed It brings us back to humanity s tendency to group, to find common interests, to progress as a team with common interests, to support each other and to the tendency of those in power to feel angry, threatened and violent towards those who have an equal ability to amass support, regardless of the merits of their cause.
Han Kang so immersed herself in these stories and events, that it is as if we are reading the experience of a holocaust survivor, a torture sufferer we know only a little of what it must be like to live with the memory and the reluctance to want to share it and the heavy price that some pay when they do.
I remember Primo Levi s If This Is a Man The Truce, a memoir, and his words, which could easily have been a guide for Han Kang herself, in the way she has approached this incredibly moving, heart shattering novel It seems a fitting note on which to conclude this review, to recall his words and his intention in setting things down on paper.
I believe in reason and in discussion as supreme instruments of progress, and therefore I repress hatred even within myself I prefer justice Precisely for this reason, when describing the tragic world of Auschwitz, I have deliberately assumed the calm, sober language of the witness, neither the lamenting tones of the victim nor the irate voice of someone who seeks revenge I thought that my account would be all the credible and useful the it appeared objective and the less it sounded overly emotional only in this way does a witness in matters of justice perform his task, which is that of preparing the ground for the judge The judges are my readers Primo Levi Another powerful book by Han Kang, author of The Vegetarian After you died I could not hold a funeral, And so my life became a funeral Some historical background After 18 years of authoritarian rule, South Korean President Park Chung hee was assassinated on October 26, 1979 Hopes for democracy were dashed when Army Major General Chun Do hwan seized power in a military coup on December 12, 1979 On May 17, he placed the entire country under martial law under the pretext of national security concerns The next day university students in Gwangju held a demonstration protesting his oppressive actions Government troops were sent to forcefully suppress the opposition, but their brutality did not deter the citizens of Gwangju People from all walks of life came out to defend their community The fighting continued until May 27, when government forces succeeded in crushing the rebellion More detailed information on the Gwangju People s Uprising at the Korean Resource Center In Human Acts, fifteen year old Dong ho s best friend Jeong dae is killed during a demonstration Dong ho ran for safety and feels immense guilt for leaving his friend behind There will be no forgiveness Least of all for me The dead bodies are collected in a gymnasium so that families can walk through to find and identify their loved ones While Dong ho searches for his friend amongst the dead, he s recruited as a volunteer and incidentally becomes part of the rebellion Dong ho is killed by government troops The chapters that follow are a collection of individual experiences all connected by the Gwangju Uprising and Dong ho s death Our experiences might have been similar, but they were far from identical What good could an autopsy possibly do How could we ever hope to understand what he went through, he himself, alone What he d kept locked away inside himself for all those years The book covers a thirty year period, from 1980 to 2013 Each chapter is from the perspective of a different person in a different year, but they are all living with the effects of that week in 1980 We hear from Dong ho, his best friend s spirit, an editor that deals with censors, a man and woman who were imprisoned and tortured for their political activities, and Dong Ho s mother The epilogue is told from author Han Kang s perspective During the time of the Gwangju Uprising, she was only 9 years old and her family had just moved from Gwangju to Seoul While she was out of harm s way, knowledge of the event left an indelible mark on her She writes about what compelled her to write this book and about the real life Dong ho You feel the weight of an enormous glacier bearing down on your body You wish that you were able to flow beneath it, to become fluid, whether seawater, oil, or lava, and shuck off these rigid impermeable outlines, which encase you like a coffin Only that way might your find some form of release The introduction by translator Deborah Smith provides vital historical context and notes about her translation process She also translated The Vegetarian Both books are relatively short, but every single word packs a punch The writing style is accessible, but the content emotionally difficult There s a visceral physicality to the language and I felt the impact of every word Han Kang has a remarkable ability to sum up a person or a relationship in just a couple of sentences That ability is showcased in the portrayal of the relationship between Jeong dae and his sister Jeong mi There are so many moving scenes, but one of my favorites is in The Editor chapter, which details the performance of a play with a censored script It shows how impossible it is to suppress everything Dong ho s confusion about the displays of patriotism in a nation where the government is attacking its own citizens and the discussion of what a nation is also made an impression on me At that moment, I realized what all this was for The words that this torture and starvation were intended to elicit We will make you realize how ridiculous it was, the lot of you waving the national flag and singing the national anthem We will prove to you that you are nothing but filty stinking bodies That you are no better than the carcasses of starving animals The Vegetarian was the unique reading experience, but Human Acts evoked stronger feelings in me I prefer realism and Human Acts is grounded, while The Vegetarian is surreal and dream like However, in both books characters suffer from the long lasting effects of trauma and the desire to escape the confines of the body There were several events in Human Acts that reminded me of The Vegetarian, especially in The Editor and The Factory Girl chapters I think that reading The Vegetarian would be an even richer experience after reading Human Acts Is it true that human beings are fundamentally cruel Is the experience of cruelty the only hinge we share as as a species Is the dignity that we cling to nothing but self delusion, masking from ourselves this single truth that each one of us is capable of being reduced to an insect, a ravening beast, a lump of meat To be degraded, damaged, slaughtered is this the essential fate of human kind, one that history has confirmed as inevitable In Human Acts , people s lives suddenly become unrecognizable Many of them feel an instinctive call to protect their freedoms and the future of their nation, even in the face of almost certain defeat Through the characters, we explore the push and pull of nobility and barbarism on human nature What does it mean to be human If we aren t innately good or bad, is there a way to steer us towards our better impulses There are several instances where a character assumes decency in another, only to be proven wrong soon after As bleak as many of the perspectives are, Han Kang doesn t ignore the good in the people She also writes about the helpers and the soldiers who disobeyed their orders It s been about six months since I read this book and I still get the same pit in my stomach when I think about it It s a tough read, but worth the time Some of those who came to slaughter us did so with the memory of those previous times, when committing such actions in wartime won them a handsome reward It happened in Gwangju just as it did on Jeju Island, in Kwantung and Nanjing, in Bosnia, and all across the American Continent when it was still known as the New World, with such a uniform brutality it s as through it is imprinted in our genetic code NOTES I highly recommend reading the informative interview with Han Kang over at The White Review I ve read a number of books about citizen uprisings from the last seventy years that have taken place all over the world and there s a common thread that runs through most of them United States support of these oppressive government crackdowns The election of Park Chung hee s daughter Park Geun hye in 2013 reopened old wounds She is currently suspended from office while undergoing impeachment proceedings Related books Green Island citizen uprising martial law brutal regimes Asia , The Buried Giant collective memory scars from the past , Between the World and Me destruction of the body.
I received this book for free from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review It s available now Gwangju, South Korea, In The Wake Of A Viciously Suppressed Student Uprising, A Boy Searches For His Friend S Corpse, A Consciousness Searches For Its Abandoned Body, And A Brutalised Country Searches For A Voice In A Sequence Of Interconnected Chapters The Victims And The Bereaved Encounter Censorship, Denial, Forgiveness And The Echoing Agony Of The original Trauma Human Acts Is A Universal Book, Utterly Modern And Profoundly Timeless Already A Controversial Bestseller And Award Winning Book In Korea, It Confirms Han Kang As A Writer Of Immense Importance It s the middle of the day, but the dim interior is like evening s dusky half light The coffins that have already been through the memorial service have been grouped neatly near the door, while at the foot of the large windows, each covered with a white cloth, lie the bodies of thirty two people for whom no relatives have yet arrived to put them in their coffins Next to each of their heads, a candle wedged into an empty drinks bottle flickers quietly Gwangju, South Korea, 1980 The citizens react against the murder of university students by the military regime The wave of resistance grows powerful and soon the dictatorship is faced with a revolution A fight for freedom and democracy for the people of South Korea The death toll rises by the minute The morgues and gyms are full of dead bodies, young and old, adults and children They are carried away like rubbish, the prisons become Hell on Earth Among the victims, a young man, a student with dreams and aspirations He is our guide to a course of death, his voice full of melancholy and pain This is Han Kang s tribute to the events that shaped her homeland This is one of the most powerful novels you ll ever have the blessing to readSuddenly it occurs to you to wonder, when the body dies, what happens to the soul How long does it linger by the side of its former home There is no respect for the living and the dead Corpses are purposefully abused to become impossible to be recognized They are loaded into garbage trucks and taken to a mass grave The regime has eliminated every trace of dignity and justice Rapes, beatings, torture to the point where you consider those who have died to be incredibly fortunate The survivors of the atrocities find themselves in limbo How can you go on living What has life become following blind hatred and massacre What is left to keep you goingAfter you were lost to us, all our hours declined into evening Evening are our streets and our houses In this half light that no longer darkens nor lightens, we eat, and walk, and sleep Dong ho is the focal point of the novel By his side, his best friend who cannot escape the darkness, a woman who works as an editor and is threatened by the regime that venerates censorship, a prisoner who leads us into the hellish quarters, a former factory worker who struggles to recover from her traumas, and Dong ho s mother who tries to grasp the terrifying reality that destroyed her world These voices form a Chorus that narrates a dark tale of the cruelty that human beings are capable of Unadulterated, shameless, merciless cruelty to impose their power and twisted ambitionsAfter you died, I could not hold a funeral And so my life became a funeral Why Dong ho Because he is one of us, a young student who wanted to decide his own future in a free land There are no leaders or warriors of fairytales in real life but fighters on a daily basis, simple citizens who demanded freedom These are the true heroes Dong ho becomes a symbol, a beacon in a country covered by darkness He is one of the thousands of victims of totalitarianism coming from all sides Left, right, it doesn t matter They are the two faces of the same tarnished coin Danger and violence don t recognize sides It is we who create poles and divide And this is why History repeats itself Because we separate violence to left and right , forgetting that there is no difference between two evils.
To speak in literary terms for this novel would be an affront to the impact of the subject matter and Han Kang needs no introductions Within moments of serenity and beauty, there are scenes of unbearable cruelty and raw violence And this is how it should be, in my opinion Novels such as this need to be merciless To turn our eyes away because of content that is hard to read is to turn a blind eye to the wounds that have been plaguing mankind for far too long Let us live in a bubble and in safetyLet us be ignorant There are a few passages that are impossible to be described accurately The writing is transcendental and the second person perspective is the proper vehicle to engage the readers and hold them tightly in a nightmarish dance to pure horror That is if the readers are willing to dig deeper into their souls and come face to face with acts that can only be committed by the most violent animal in God s creation The human Han Kang s Epilogue is a masterpiece in itself I will use the clich e I hate and say that this novel should be required reading to every university in the world, in a futile hope to prevent the eternal circle of violence coming from all sidesForgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
I forgive no one, and no one forgives me My reviews can also be found on Human Acts was my second Han Kang book, and honestly I couldn t fault it I rarely give out 5 star ratings, but I just couldn t find anything to dislike about this book Human Acts is based on real life historical events, where Kang depicts the lives of several characters who are all connected by the events of the suppressed student uprising in Gwangju, South Korea in 1980 Each perspective travels a little further through time to show how incredibly painful and far reaching the events of the uprising were, and how much they have affected people s lives as a result.
This book is harrowing to read Although I wouldn t say I felt sad or emotional reading it, it is perhaps accurate to say that the feeling I experienced while reading was that of complete and utter emptiness At one point in the book, I even felt my stomach churn with the stress of what I was reading The violence in this book, although not overkill, is often brutal and unflinching in its depiction, and the emotions of the characters come through so strongly I really loved the way that the characters and their stories were interlinked throughout the years Often I wouldn t immediately recognise the links, as it was a little hard at times for me to keep track of the different Korean names, but the discovery of who each narrative followed was like a little bit of treasure that I had dug up myself And the translation of this book should really be applauded Deborah Smith has once again done a fantastic job of representing Han Kang s prose It is minimalistic but also beautiful, stark and to the point, and I loved the fact that in her introduction to the book not only did she provide some historical context which I followed up with some googling of course , but also commented on her approach at translating different South Korean dialects that Kang had used, in order to keep it as loyal to the original text as possible.
This wasn t an enjoyable read at all, but I do think it is an important one, and I found out about a section of history that I probably would never have learnt about otherwise It is horrible to think that these events actually happened, and the depths of the depravity that some people will go too the book was truly eye opening, and a fantastic read that should be picked up by everyone.
This book was pretty horrific in the sense of what happened to these kids and different people in the took I won t lie, I didn t understand some of the ways the author wrote the story but I grasped it s meaning all the same This is about the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea in the 80 s The author tells about really brutal deaths of people and school children This was no peaceful protest There are different stories in the book that intertwine together They are all really sad in of a shocking way when you read it then crying your eyes out I m not sure if that makes sense, but I was just shocked at reading about these things, the detail of how some were killed I don t doubt anything and shouldn t be shocked at anything, there are shocking killings and things that go on today The story of the people that worked on the dead that were brought to hopefully be claimed by family members was sad How they were piling up and the volunteers trying their best to clean them and cover then depending on how badly they were beaten and there were some horrific descriptions How long do souls linger by the side of their bodies Do they really flutter away like some kind of bird Is that what trembles the edges of the candle flameThey have a Memorial Garden where there are graves and different memorials set up at least from what I read on the internet I found this picture to be the most heart wrenching and it puts across so many feelings I buried you with my own two hands Removed your PE jacket and your sky blue tracksuit bottoms, and dressed you in your dark winter uniform, over a white shirt Tightened your belt just so and put clean gray socks on you When they put you in a plywood coffin and loaded it up onto the rubbish truck, I said I d ride at the front to watch over you.
Just the thought of a mother having to do that to her child because of so much stupidity, violence and ignorance makes me so sad I think Han Kang did a great job with this book I really loved The Vegetarian but this book is on a whole other level Now I need to go read something happy I would like to thank BloggingForbooks for a print copy of this book MY BLOG Melissa Martin s Reading List Heartbreaking and beautiful Between this and
Humanity s essential barbarism is exacerbated not by the especially barbaric nature of any of the individuals involved but through that magnification which occurs naturally in crowds.
The Putrefying Bodies piled up into one massive heap, fused in a single mass like the rotting carcass of some multi legged monster, the blood of its collective hearts surging together into one enormous artery stained the streets in a congealed pool of crimson Throughout human history, the brutality of wars has repeatedly draped itself over the earth, a uniform brutality it s as though it is imprinted in our genetic code, and so sustained and cyclical in human nature, it seems futile to expect such acts will ever cease Under martial law much like Taiwan s White Terror in 1947, or China s Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, savage human rights violations and denial of burial rites happened in Gwangju in 1980 during a gruesome ten day debacle, transforming the South Korean city into a human slaughterhouse.
Readers of Han Kang s The Vegetarian might recognize similar images of the human body being violated and eviscerated like animal meat Though the gore is hardly restrained in the opening chapters of Human Acts, the reader is nevertheless mesmerized, compelled to turn the page Less a political discourse on oppressive and torturous actions of an authoritarian regime, the novel questions the axis of good and evil in mankind, the strength of human conscience as a collective force, and weighs the value of human loss to those left in the living In eloquent prose that is an assured testament to the talents of both the author and her translator, Human Acts meanders through time shifts spanning thirty three years, and narratives that swiftly transition between the perspectives of its characters.
Was it horrifying, for you, Dong ho, the boy no than 15 years old, walking among the dead, tallying up the corpses as the putrid stink permeated through the bloodstained national flags that draped them Why would you sing the national anthem for people who have been killed by soldiers As though it wasn t the nation itself that had murdered themYet, this doesn t phase you as much as the sickening, dreadful need to find your friend out thereWhat terror you must have felt at having just been knocked from your body, the boy s friend ponders, while adapting to his strange new existence or nonexistence , like other souls hovering between light and shade , adrift, haunting the edges of the living, left to float aimlessly How long do souls linger by the side of their bodies Do they really flutter away like some kind of bird Is that what trembles the edges of the candle flame Does it mean I would now only exist in dreams.
Or perhaps in memoriesDo the survivors remember the dead in dreams No in nightmares, in the guilt and the shame such as the editor suffered everyday for the last five years It occurred to herthat there was something shameful about eating.
she thought of the dead, for whom the absence of life meant that they would never be hungry again But life still lingered on for her, with hunger still a yoke around her neck.
Through burning tears, she endured the publisher s abuse in silent revolt, while quietly echoing the censored words no longer readable in the manuscript she holds, After you died I could not hold a funeral, And so my life became a funeral.
The death constantly disturbed the prisoner, Why did he die, while I m still aliveWe shared the same cell, were tortured the same brutal way , we ate the same meals was it that he suffered than me.
Every day I fight with the fact of my humanity.
Why was I left behind in this hell thought the boy s mother chasing you through the market square, but can never catch up with you, because I buried your bloodless body with my own two hands thirty years ago You were so afraid of the darkness between the trees, on our walks by the riverside You tugged at my hand, urging,It s sunny over there, Mum, Why are we walking in the dark, let s go over there, where the flowers are bloomingThe memory stabs me like the cold steel of a bayonet, I can never forget it Never forget, is why the writer, thirty three years later, interviewed the survivors and penned a requiem to memorialize the forsaken.
The struggle against power was the memory s struggle against forgetting Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera.
The native writer succeeds where the conscientious writer must to remove the muzzle of silence and empower the voiceless masses in this world or the other When I think of those ten days in the life of that city, I think of the moment when a man who d been lynched, almost killed, found the strength to open his eyes This moment when, spitting out fragments of teeth along with a mouthful of blood, he held his failing eyes open with his fingers so that he could look his attacker straight in the face The moment when he appeared to remember that he had a face and a voice, to recollect his own dignity, which seemed the memory of a previous life.
She writes to preserve the memory of the hundreds of souls that fluttered away in 1980, like some kind of bird to lead those struggling in the cold and darkness of their past, to a place where the light shines through to where the flowers bloom.
Author Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith were awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2016 for The Vegetarian Their second collaboration, Human Acts is a lyrical healing anthem to a wounded nation and a powerful message to humankind to clean up its act For me, even remarkable than their first, this novel is not to be missed read about the hit power of this novel I had mixed feelings after finishing Kang s The Vegetarian, but I cannot deny that the book sucked me right into it s dark, weird allegory Which is why I m surprised that this book left me feeling cold and detached It feels so distant and impersonal, lacking an atmosphere worthy of the subject matter.
Human Acts tells an important story that I m sure many people know nothing about that of the South Korean Gwangju Uprising in 1980 In a daring plot choice that should have been far effective than it was, Kang begins by talking about bodies Specifically, the corpses lined up in boxes, waiting for family and friends to come identify them One chapter is even told from the perspective of a dead body.
Are you horrified, and yet intrigued So was I Unfortunately, the second person narration is jarring and strange Where The Vegetarian s weirdness kept me interested enough to read on, here the weird aspects left me feeling detached and bored All of the chapters, though connected, feel like individual stories I jumped around from perspective to perspective, never coming to feel an attachment to any character or their story I realize I am in the minority, perhaps not unlike how I was with The Underground Railroad, but I cannot connect with these books about historical horrors that lay out in the events in such a cold way, lacking any human emotion I appreciate that it is probably a conscious choice on the author s part a decision meant to serve a purpose and probably demonstrate the cold inhumanity of such parts of history, but any book that leaves me feeling emotionally cold, whether intentionally or otherwise, is not one that will stay with me.
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or maybe a cowboy dancer story.
but yikes don t read this book before bedtime It s Brilliant.
but, brutal bacteria brain bankruptcy If the book cover alone isn t a clue that this story isn t going to eat through your skin burn away your flesh down to your bare bones.
then by all meansdive in and find out for yourself Inspired writing comes from a real event Gwangju Uprising, South Korea 1980 Han Kang.
is a QUEEN BLEAK GUT WRENCHING POWERFUL STORYTELLER She rattled my bones in The Vegetarian , and hollowed them in Human Acts Local University students were demonstrating against the Chun Doo hwan government then were attacked, fired upon, beaten, killed It was a brutal massacreby the army and police They stood for justice and died for it Over 600 people were killed In Han Kang s bookshe focuses on a 15 year old innocent boy, named Dong Ho, who was killed In the Epilogue.
Han Kang writes about a time in 2009 when she was glued to the television watching the towers burning in the middle of the night and surprised herself with words that came out of her mouth But that s Gwangju In other words, Gwangju has become another name for what ever is forcibly isolated, beaten down, and brutalized, for all that has beenmutilated beyond repair The radioactive spread is ongoing Gwangju has been reborn only to be butchered again in the endless cycle It was razed to the ground, and raised up and anew in a bloodied rebirth I can imagine the guilty feelings Han Kang had of her thoughts Many of the descriptions are gruesome and unbearablebut this story had been kept very quiet from the world perhaps by opening it up there is a possibility for healing to begin.