'Salmon,' the Fairy Tale for Adults

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'Salmon,' the Fairy Tale for Adults

'Salmon, you can smell the scent of the river in the word Salmon.'

This is the first line of 'Salmon,' a fairy tale for adults written by poet Ahn Do-hyun. The story is filled with the sensitive reflections of a poet who has devoted his entire life to his craft. The story portrays the growing pains, as well as the sad and ardent love, of a salmon in detail.

It is the power of Ahn's writings that causes readers to become absorbed by his poetic impressions. His 'Salmon' is be the most famous and popular work among the recent slew of fairy tales published for adults.

The hero of the fairy tale is a salmon who stands out from his fellow salmon who have dark-blue-colored backs because of his distinctive silver back. He is very lonesome because of his different appearance, and this causes him to question the meaning of his existence.

Our hero falls in love with a salmon with clear eyes, after she helps him escape from the jaws of a bear while swimming in a river in Alaska. He starts his journey upstream with her, fulfilling the instinctive urge of all salmon. Throughout the journey, the author slowly resolves the philosophical issues confronting him, such as 'only the salmon, who realizes the beauty of the world, can fall in love,' and 'existence itself can be a reason for life.'

Korean novelist Shin Kyung-sook, commenting on the book, said that, "the silver salmon ignores the the traps and nets, which humans had made to capture him. He jumps up and swims against the waterfall, to find 'the one and only way of salmon.' I felt the desire to become a salmon, as I followed his magical journey."

The 130-page fairy tale teaches a humble philosophy to live by.

To prepare for the writing of the book, the author studied several texts on the life-cycle of salmon as well as photographs and videotapes. Because of his extensive research, he was able to accurately describe the journey of return that the salmon undertakes. Even though it is a fairy tale, the story is extremely realistic. The book itself is very beautiful, illustrated with the drawings of artist Um Taek-soo on every page.

The fairy tale was first published in 1996, and to date over 300,000 copies have been sold. The book still records sales of 2000 - 3000 copies every month. Ahn Do-hyun has published several poetry books, including 'Fox in My Heart' and 'Chon Bong-joon Goes to Seoul.' He has earned a reputation as a pioneer in the field of adult fairy tales, by publishing books such as 'Salmon,' a fairy tale for adults, and 'Relationship,' 'Photo album,' and 'Chinese Black Noodles.'

by Shin Yong-ho

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