High school students who underwent the Scholastic Aptitude Test(SAT) may have heard the names Choi Myung-hee, Seo Joung-ju, Chae Man-sik, and Jo Jeong-rae. What do all these four writers have in common? It is that they are representative writers or poets in Jeollabuk-do.
When you were in high school, you had to memorize names blindly. However, now you are a university student, and it is meaningful to know the representative writers in Jeollabuk-do. Jeollabuk-do has four literature memorial halls: Choi Myung-hee Memorial Hall, which all CBNU students know, Midang Memorial Hall for So Joung-ju, Chae Man-sik Hall, and Arirang Hall for Jo Jeong-Rae. Look at each hall and find the writer’s personal magnetism.
Choi Myung-hee Literary Memorial Hall.
Choi Myung-hee Literature Hall is easy to access because it is located in Jeonju Hanok Village. The hall introduces the life of writer Choi Myung-hee more than her literary works. Thus, the hall displays the writer’s tough life and traces of it. You can view manuscripts, letters sent to acquaintances, interviews, videos, and panes.
Who is Choi Myung-hee? She graduated from the Dept. of Korean Language & Literature in CBNU and worked as a teacher. Her immortal classic, Honbul, described noblemen’s society guarding traditional lives in heavy seas of modern history, hardship of the common and the lowest class of people, and recovery of people’s tragic lives in Manchuria.
Midang Literary Memorial Hall
Midang hall is the literature hall of Seo Joung-ju which was opened through remodeling an old school. Midang was his pen name. The hall has manuscripts, a collection of works, and household items that he has used when he lived.
My first impression of Midang Hall was that it located in the back of beyond. Only Sunwoon Mountain met my eyes. It seemed that the poet communed with nature. When you look all around you can find a bicycle sculpture near the hall, and under the bicycle exists a direction board of written history. Two wheels symbolize the number eight wind eternally and are the dream of young boys who are interested in literature.
Who is Seo Joung-ju? Among the modern poets, he was one of the best study subjects of society along with Manhae Han Young-woon, Kim So-wol, and Jeong Ji-young. His works were translated in many languages for many countries. When he lived, he was recommended for the Nobel Prize in literature five times.
Chae Man-sik Literary Memorial Hall
Gunsan city is Chae Man-sik’s hometown and has fertile plains, beautiful nature and a lot of cultural heritage. Chae Man-sik Hall was established to remember countryside novelist Chae Man-sik’s cultural achievement. Since it is located near the Gumgang River, the hall is like a ship. You can see Chae’s life and works. In the first floor, there are a gallery and reference room where you can watch the progression of his life in panorama. On the second floor, you can see his life story and literature classes or seminars.
Who is Chae Man-sik? Chae Man-sik always wore an overcoat and fedora. Thus, he was called a French aristocrat, and he was neat. When he dined in others’ houses, he cleaned spoons and dusted them on his thigh. He revealed his personality and cleanliness in the perfection of his works. To complete one short story, he threw away 640 pages of squared manuscript papers. He was the maestro of satire. His novels featured pen-up anger and irrationalities of the age using unique satires. He wrote 70 short stories and 15 full-length stories over 27 years. His major works are ‘Readymade life’, ‘Chisuk’, ‘Taepyungchunha’, ‘Takryu’.
Arirang Literary Memorial Hall
Arirang hall is in Gimje, which has vast plains. It is the only place in Korea where we can see the line at which the sky and Earth appear to meet. A name Arirang originated from Jo Jeong-rae’s famous novel. We can learn the history of Gimje through the novel ‘Arirang’. The Hall opened in May 2003. On the first floor, manuscripts written over five years are pile up and displayed in Arirang’s visuals. In the second gallery, scrutinized notebooks, notes, and daily necessaries are exhibited. We can imagine how long the novelist thought and invested his time to write one novel. There are unusual exhibitions, too. Lead pieces from ceramic pens are displayed; he thought throwing away the leads was like throwing part of soul, so he collected them.
You can feel not just a writer but also a human in Jo Jeong-rae in the third gallery. Arirang Literature Memorial Hall is not only a cultural space where we can see the writer’s spirit but also an educational place where we can feel breathing of an ethnic race. In the back of the building, Gimje Creation Studio is located, so you can experience a lot of activities.
Who is Jo Jeong-rae? The world of Jo Jeong-rae’s works is divided into first half and second half in the decades before and after 1983 when he started writing ‘The Taebaek Mountains’. The works of the first half showed his social consciousness strongly. ‘Playing with fire’ was a turning point when he switched his works from social consciousness to history. Based on clear national consciousness, he described characters who lived rough lives in the tragic divided country. The typical works are ‘The Taekbaek Mountains’, ‘Arirang’, and ‘Han River’.
It is not easy to go traveling for literature. Mostly, the transportations in these areas are a little inconvenient. However, if you can drive, it must be a charming trip. How about planning a literary trip?
Kuk Chan-song, reporter