The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] Painful memories reconciled in taking care of runaway kid

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : April 29, 2023 - 16:00

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“A World Without Gyeong-wu” by Baek Ohn-yu (Changbi Publishers) “A World Without Gyeong-wu” by Baek Ohn-yu (Changbi Publishers)

“A World Without Gyeong-wu” (working title)

By Baek Ohn-yu

Changbi Publishers

In-soo sees ghosts floating like shadows in the corner of his room and every time he sees them, a bone-chilling cold seems to cling to his skin, even though it’s midsummer. He is still suffering from hallucinations and nightmares caused by “the accident” that happened with his gang when he ran away from home 12 years ago.

One day, In-soo meets a boy named Yi-ho who extorts money from drivers by faking car accidents. Yi-ho’s constant danger of self-harm and violence reminds In-soo of his dark past.

In-soo grew up as a timid boy under a father who resorted to violence against his family and a mother who was unable to understand her child’s feelings. Exhausted by his parents' abuse and indifference, In-soo ran away from home. He meets two fellow runaways -- Seong-yeon, who survives by pickpocketing, and Gyeong-wu, who escaped from an abusive orphanage. Together, they settle in a basement room and learn to survive on the streets.

The novel portrays the harsh reality that runaway children face, exposing the bleak realities of those who are stuck in the blind spots of labor exploitation, dire living conditions, violence and abuse.

In-soo, who has been living with guilt and shame, finds a glimmer of hope for redemption when he encounters young Yi-ho and starts taking care of him, fearing that Yi-ho may follow the same path as him. Their strange solidarity and friendship help to heal their wounds.