In exile and wandering
Deep Blue Night
By Choe In-ho
Translated by Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton
(Jimoondang, 5,000 won)
Disillusioned by every aspect of his life, the protagonist, once a renowned writer, leaves Korea for Los Angeles. There, he runs into Jun-ho, a popular singer who escaped from Korea after being accused of smoking marijuana.
The protagonist thinks Jun-ho is pathetic for not being able to stop drinking and smoking marijuana, an illegal substance in their home country. But he also feels empathy, finding himself strangely similar to the singer with no promising future.
The two together begin a highway journey in California which later makes the protagonist realize he should return to Korea and somehow face reality.
Both the protagonist and Jun-ho are alienated escapists who feel rejected by their home country while feeling isolated in the foreign land at the same time.
The novel delves into themes of exile, wandering and human loneliness in a foreign setting that offers a rare glimpse into Korean-American life in the 1970s.
A modified version of “Deep Blue Night” was made into a movie of the same title in 1985 starring Chang Mi-hee and Ahn Sung-ki.
Born in 1945 in Seoul, Choe studied English literature at Yonsei University. He came into prominence in the 1970s, writing popular novels that displayed unique urban sentiments as well as social problems resulting from Korea’s rapid industrialization at the time. He has won Hyundai Literary Award and Yi Sang Literary Award for his works.