Literary Giant Hwang Soon-won Dies

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Literary Giant Hwang Soon-won Dies

Hwang Soon-won, 85, beloved Korean author, died Thursday, Sept. 14 at his home in Sadang. Mr. Hwang detached himself from the turbulence that formed the background of his life to write about childhood, innocence and purity. His best-selling "Cloud Burst" is a love story about two students.

Critics laud his literary achievements. Mr. Hwang, who retired as professor of literature at Kyonghee University in 1980, began his literary career as a 16-year-old poet.

A member of the Literature & Art Society since 1957, Mr. Hwang is better known for his novels. Early novels such as "Star" and "Cloud Burst" portray the breakdown of innocence upon awakening to reality.

From 1950 when he was well in his 30s, he began to examine humanism and published his masterpiece "Like Stars."

During the Korea-Japan conflict, Mr. Hwang started writing about mental chaos and misery, exploring the fundamental character of Koreans. Famous novels from that time are "Descendents of Cain," published in 1954; "Human Connection," published in 1957; "Tree on a Slope," published in 1960; "Moving Sex," published in 1973; and "Dice of the Gods," published in 1982.

Respect for Mr. Hwang goes beyond his writing.

Koreans love him for his integrity. He chose not to wear the strappings of the upperclass, and even rejected the silver crown Moonhwa award given to him by the government in 1996.

Literature runs thick in his blood. His son, Dong-kyu, published his first poem as a high school student. Now over 60 years old and a professor at Seoul National University, Dong-kyu is a well-known poet. It's unusual in the Korean literature circle for two family members to claim such prestige.

His many proteges will also mourn Mr. Hwang's death. Poet Cho Byung-hwa and Mr. Hwang founded the Kyonghee University Literature Association. It included renowned writers such as Chun San-gook, Cho Hae-il, Kim Yong-sung, Ko Won-jung, Park Nam-chul, Park Duk-kyu, Chung Ho-sung, Ryu Shi-hwa, Kim Hyung-kyon, Park Joo-tak, Kim Jong-hae and pop culture critic Hah Jae-bong.

Mr. Hwang is survived by his wife, Yang Jung-kil, three sons and one daughter.

A funeral service will be held at 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 18, in Seoul National University hospital. He will be buried at Pongsang Cemetary in Chongnam, Choongnam.

by Lee Kyoung-chul

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