The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] Emerging SF writer enchants with cosmic fairytales in award-winning 'haenyeo' story

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : July 23, 2023 - 07:31

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"The Tidal Future" by Seo Yoon-bin (Hubble)

"The Tidal Future"

By Seo Yoon-bin


Seo Yoon-bin, who won the grand prize at the Fifth Korean Science Literature Award for medium-length and short stories last year, has published his first collection of short stories, "The Tidal Future."

As an emerging and promising young sci-fi writer, Seo has captured considerable attention after securing the prize previously won by notable figures in the genre like Kim Cho-yeop and Cheon Seon-ran.

In his award-winning short story, “Luna,” Seo twists the narrative of a conventional fairytale where a princess and a prince meet and find their happily-ever-after love.

He introduces us to a futuristic world where "haenyeo" (usually refers to female divers on Jeju Island, whose livelihood consists of harvesting a variety of sea life) collects minerals in space instead of seafood.

Reflecting back on his creative process, the author revealed how he struggled with the dilemma of whether the main character should be a “Yakult ajumma” (women who sell Yakult from refrigerated carts) or a haenyeo.

“I envisioned the image of an electric cart transforming into a combat robot and venturing into space. But the novel's central theme of ‘longing’ led me to choose the haenyeo character."

Within this book, Seo populates the pages with characters who are not so different from the people of today such as an elderly caretaker of a nearly extinct Pegasus, an artist who has been displaced by AI-driven advancements and a young man voyaging to space in pursuit of fortune.