Writer's identity a deep secret, but talents are well-known

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Writer's identity a deep secret, but talents are well-known

Djuna is a Korean science fiction writer who started her career on the Internet in 1994 and has since published four books. Her second collection, "The Tax-Exempt Zone," was named one of the 100 best books of 2000 by the JoongAng Ilbo. She is one of very few Korean science fiction writers whose work is praised by fans and literary critics alike.

However, nobody knows who Djuna is. Nothing about Djuna's identity has been confirmed, so speculation abounds. Is she a he? It's believed that Djuna is a woman, in her early-to-mid-thirties, but nobody knows for certain. The name Djuna is taken from Djuna Barnes, the American Modernist who wrote "Nightwood." Djuna does all of her (or his) business and interviews solely via e-mail and refuses to answer questions related to identity (no matter how this writer tried).

You've established yourself as one of the most respected science fiction writers in Korea. Did you ever expect to be taken so seriously?

I don't think I'm that big. Yes, I obtained some mainstream readers recently. It's a nice change, but it doesn't make me a mainstream writer. I'm still writing genre fiction for genre fans who know the science fiction language I write in. Thus, many mainstream readers miss some of my points. Sometimes it's quite frustrating.

It's quite amazing to see you become this big, without any connection to literary organizations. Has this ever been a disadvantage to you?

The Korean science fiction world is quite new, and still quite small. We can start from scratch. I don't think it's a disadvantage.

Your books deal with multi-ethnic and multi-cultural issues. It's too bad that your work cannot be appreciated by people around the world, as your Web sites are. (Djuna maintains four fan sites that are written in English). What do you think about it?

Korean is the only language that I can manage well enough. So, there are no other choices. It's not that bad. I like the cozy feeling of this small pond. And Korea is not a closed nation anymore.

I think you're the one of the most interesting people in the Korean Internet world. What has the Internet brought to you and your life?

Perhaps a nice masquerade ball...

What are five things or people that interest you the most, and what are five things or people that disgust you?

Shallow prettiness, small toys, ironies, paradoxes and modern cities; and summer, unreasonable rudeness, real violence, fanatics and bigots.

Why did you choose Munch's painting "The Scream" to represent you in print?

Because I needed a face. That's all.

What was your real intention when you decided to keep your identity secret? And will you do it forever?

I simply love privacy. And yes, I want to keep this masquerade ball going forever.

by Kay Park
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