|“Nunmul (Tears)” by the late Choe In-ho was released on Dec. 24. (Yeobaek)|
The literary remains of the late novelist Choe In-ho (1945-2013) were published on Tuesday, three months after his death.
Choe’s eight-year battle against salivary gland cancer, involving pain, tears, meditation and epiphany, is reflected in “Nunmul (Tears),” based on a batch of manuscripts found by Choe’s wife and others.
The novelist, who was once called an “enfant terrible” for entering the literature scene at the tender age of 17, while he was still in high school, released some of the most popular novels of contemporary Korean literature, including “Winter Wanderer,” “Whale Hunting,” “Deep Blue Night,” “The Hometown of Stars” and “Sangdo.” A devout Catholic, Choe became more concerned with religious and spiritual matters toward the end of his life.
In the title essay, “Tears,” Choe realizes the greatness of mankind is overcoming the pain in one’s soul. He writes that he was once brought to tears during his daily prayer in front of the Madonna. He tried to use alcohol to remove a tear drop stain from his wooden desk because he was embarrassed by his weakness.
But when the alcohol evaporated, Choe found the stain once again, in the shape of a baby’s footprint. He realized that the tear drop was the trace of a man who was fighting against death.
“Humans do not shed tears without pain in the soul. ... But what makes a human great is that he or she has a merciful heart that can cry not only for his or her own pained soul, but for other people’s suffering,” he wrote.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org)