The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] 'A tender heart will save us countless times'

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : July 7, 2023 - 16:45

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"The Radiant Greetings" by Baik Sou-linne (Munhakdongne Publishing)

"The Radiant Greetings"

By Baik Sou-linne

Munhakdongne Publishing

A girl named Hae-mi had to lie “sincerely” to comfort her parents and younger sister after her family lost her older sister in a tragic gas explosion. Following her mother’s decision to emigrate, Hae-mi arrives in a German city and starts rebuilding her life with the help of her aunt, who was one of the many Korean nurses dispatched to Germany during the 1960s and '70s.

Baek Sou-linne’s first full-length novel, the Korean title of which translates directly into, “The Radiant Greetings,” comes after her literary debut 12 years ago. It was initially serialized under the title, “Such a Beautiful,” in Munhakdongne’s literary magazine in 2021. The main plot centers on Hae-mi’s quest to find her aunt’s first love, K. H., two decades later.

Baek delicately portrays the process of self-acceptance, which was hindered by childhood trauma. She does it so gently through caring sentences and affectionate words. Throughout Hae-mi’s journey of healing and personal development, there are supportive individuals who embrace and help her: her aunt Haeng-ja and her friends who were fellow nurses in Germany. During their very first encounter, Haeng-ja sees through Hae-mi’s sadness and tells her, “You should not carry it all by yourself. You are a brave child, but there is no sadness in the world that you should bear alone.”

In a prepublication interview with the publisher, Baek chose her favorite line in the book: “A tender heart will save us countless times." The sentence best captures the tender and compassionate atmosphere of the novel.