Baek Su Rin

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Baek Su Rin (Template:Ko-hhrm) (born 1982) is a South Korean writer. In 2010 she published "Yuryeongi chulmolhal ttae" (유령이 출몰할 때 When Ghosts Come Out) in a fall issue of the South Korean quarterly journal, Jaeum & Moeum. She began her literary career when her short story “Geojitmal yeonseup” (거짓말 연습 Practicing How to Lie) won the 2011 Kyunghyang Daily News New Writer’s Award. She has published two short story collections, Chamdamhan bit (참담한 빛 Tragic Light), and Polling in pol (폴링 인 폴 Falling in Fall). She was awarded the Munhakdongne Young Writer’s Award in 2015 and 2017.

Life

Baek Su Rin was born in 1982 in Incheon. She graduated from Yonsei University in French literature, and completed her doctorate degree in French literature at Sogang University and at Lyon 2. From when she was young, she had desire to write fiction. Particularly, Shin Kyung-sook’s A Lone Room that she read during middle school had great influence on her decision to pursue fiction writing. She said that she thought she could “call out individuals hidden by major narratives, and restore personal histories through fiction”. By the time she was graduating university, her desire to write fiction was very strong. During graduate school, her role model was Sogang University’s French literature professor Ch’oe Yun, who was pursuing academics and writing at the same time, but she wasn’t able to write fiction much due to her graduate courses. Once she graduated from her master’s program she began to write seriously, and debuted after 2 years of writing.[1]

Writing

Baek Su Rin’s fiction deals with the lives of individuals who are no longer able to relate to the world. In her first collection, Polling in pol (폴링 인 폴 Falling in Fall), her stories are mostly centered around events that occur when there is a small but irreversible problem in the language and the memories of the protagonists. “Gamjaui siljong” (감자의 실종 The Missing Potato) deals with the confusion of a woman who begins to understand the word ‘dog’ as ‘potato’ instead. “Bamui sujokgwan” (밤의 수족관 The Night Aquarium) carries the story out only via the voice of a woman who is waiting for her superstar husband with her child, leading the reader to doubt whether the woman’s memory is reliable. “Kkot pineun bami omyeon” (꽃 피는 밤이 오면 When the Night of Blossoms Comes) depicts the story of a woman enduring her life with a husband who has lost his ability to speak after passing by a woman holding a one-person protest. By showing the indecipherable ‘words’ of the husband into sentences, Baek Su Rin shows the woman’s pain and sorrow. “Yuryeongi chulmolhal ttae” (유령이 출몰할 때 When Ghosts Come Out) reflects the sensibilities of the youth who are neither compassionate activists nor overeager job-seekers, but are somewhere in the middle. “Geojitmal yeonseup” (거짓말 연습 Practicing How to Lie) is a work that asks about the possibility of communication, especially today where so many words are overflowing and being distributed, that asking for the uncertainty and the truth in words is an outdated concept.[2]

Baek Su Rin’s second collection, Chamdamhan bit (참담한 빛 Tragic Light), depicts the tragedy of the world through contrasting tragedy and light. In particular, this book sheds light on the life and ethics of a foreigner. In “Bukseojjok hanggu”, ‘Lena’, who is born in Germany, clearly remembers the day when she visited her mother’s hometown for the first time. In a strange port city, she waits on the road for her mother, who has gone to meet with someone. Suddenly an old man begins to kick a dog. This causes her to become afraid, and out of her sorrow she begs her mother for them to return to Germany. Then her mother says to ‘Lena’ “but have you thought how I’d be when in Germany?” (Page 238). As if she is remembering the loneliness her mother would’ve felt through the sight of that strange port city, Lena describes that day’s surroundings and the scenery in detail. In “Seuteuroberi pildeu” (스트로베리 필드 Strawberry Field), ‘Jude’ thinks that he is a foreigner even in his own country. ‘Vincent’ in “Sicha” (시차 Time Difference), who was adopted by a family in the Netherlands, ‘The Old Bird’ in “Junggukin halmeoni” (중국인 할머니 The Old Chinese Lady) who lived for 70 years as a Chinese emigrant, and ‘Je’ and ‘Yun’ in “Nopeun mul” (높은 물 High Water) who operate a bed and breakfast in Venice, are all characters with the conscience of a foreigner.[3]


Works

  • Chamdamhan bit (참담한 빛 Tragic Light), 2016.
  • Polling in pol (폴링 인 폴 Falling in Fall), 2014.

Awards

  • Munhakdongne Young Writer’s Award, 2017.
  • Munhakdongne Young Writer’s Award, 2015.

References

  1. Commentary on the Fiction Award “I want to be a writer who tells good stories about people”, Kyunghyang Daily News, accessed July 28th, 2017.
  2. Munhakdongne Website, accessed July 28th, 2017.
  3. Changbi Website, accessed July 28th, 2017.