First Korean novel translated into Romanian is launched at ICR

His Excellency IM Han-taek, Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea,also attended the event.

Late last week, lovers of foreignand in particular Asian literature had the opportunity to witness aunique event in Romania. Thenovel Please Look after Mom (in Romanian, Te rog, ai grija de mama) by Kyung-sook Shin waslaunched at the Romanian CulturalInstitute (ICR) headquarters inBucharest and guests included HisExcellency IM Han-taek,Ambassador of the Republic ofSouth Korea, and his wife, as wellas other diplomats accredited toBucharest and ICR Vice-PresidentsLiviu Jicman and Mihail Nagy.In his speech, the SouthKorean ambassador to Bucharestspoke about the significance ofthe emergence of South Koreanliterature on the Romanian market,which follows a Korean waveof influences through Korean dramasand k-pop music that werevery well received in our countryand the rest of the world. In addition,the South Korean officialpointed out there are many similaritiesbetween his country andRomania, one of which relates tothe central role of family intoday’s society, represented by themother, also the main character inKyung-sook Shin’s novel.The book was presented byAdina Stoicescu, representative ofAdsum Cultural Association,alongside experienced Romanianwriters and writers from the newgeneration, including HoriaGarbea, Marius Conu, andAlexandru Groza. Please Lookafter Mom was translated by TaeHyun OUM, Romanian languageprofessor at HUFS HankukUniversity of Foreign Studies) inSouth Korea and holder of aRomanian PhD in Bucharest.Winner of ‘Man Asian LiteraryPrize’ in 2011 (editor’s note – forbest novel by an Asian writer publishedor translated into English)and with reported sales of close to2 million copies in 19 countries,the novel offers Romanian readersan insight into contemporaryKorean literature and the everydaylife and way of thinking and feelingof this people.Starting from an exceptionalmotto, “Love as long as you can”(Franz Listz), and focusing on hermother’s disappearance in acrowded subway station and thefamily’s efforts to finds her, theauthor weaves the story of a lifecentered on family from the husbandand children’s memories.The story itself is merely a pretextto paint an intricate picture offamily life in a period of transitionfrom traditional to modern society,from rural life with its worriesand day-to-day problems to urbanlife, which “swallows you andbrings you into line.”Consisting of four chapters andan epigraph, the novel combinesdifferent perspectives on the disappearedmother and each chapter isbuilt around a family member (thedaughter who is a writer, the elderson, the father, and the disappearedmother), thus allowing each character’spersonality to bring into thelimelight past events that havemarked their relationship with themother figure.The book reflects personal andautobiographical experienceswhich awaken the readers’ ownmemories and images of their pastand especially the relationship withtheir mother.Kyung-sook Shin was bornJanuary 12, 1963 in a village inSouth Korea and, alongside In-sukKim and Ji-young Gong, is part ofa group of female writers known asthe 386 Generation. The copyrightsfor the bestseller Please Lookafter Mom have been sold to 20countries worldwide, as of nowincluding Romania.

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