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Hong Se-hwa, author of 'I'm a Taxi Driver in Paris,' dies at 77

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : April 18, 2024 - 17:13

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Hong Se-hwa (Changbi Publishers) Hong Se-hwa (Changbi Publishers)

Hong Se-hwa, a journalist, a social activist, and the author of "I'm a Taxi Driver in Paris," died Thursday at the age of 77.

He died at Wonjin Green Hospital in Jungnang-gu, Seoul, surrounded by family members. Hong had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of last year.

Hong graduated from Seoul National University, majoring in political science and international relations.

While working at a trading company's overseas office, Hong became associated with the South Korean National Liberation Front Preparation Committee, a left-wing and pro-North Korea organization in South Korea active from 1976 to 1979, and sought asylum in Paris.

"I'm a Taxi Driver in Paris" (left) and "The Seine Divides Left and Right, while the Han River Divides North and South" (Changbi Publishers, Hankyoreh Publishing)

In 1995, his autobiographical essay "I'm a Taxi Driver in Paris" became a bestseller, earning him recognition in South Korea.

He returned to South Korea in 1999 and pursued writing, publishing such works as "The Seine Divides Left and Right, while the Han River Divides North and South." In his writings, Hong rejected black-and-white logic and emphasized tolerance.

In 2001, he joined The Hankyoreh newspaper and worked as a member of the planning and editorial committee.

In 2012, Hong served as co-chair of the New Progressive Party (now the Labor Party).

From 2015, he worked as the director of Jean Valjean Bank, a non-profit organization that lends interest-free money to people at risk of imprisonment due to unpaid fines.

He is survived by his wife and two children.