‘Toji’ author celebrates in style

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‘Toji’ author celebrates in style

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Park Kyung-ree, the author of the epic novel “Toji,” recently celebrated her 80th birthday on Nov. 29.
Ms. Park was surprised to see 100 guests waiting for her. She spent her 60th and 70th birthdays without proper celebration, and blushingly said, “I didn’t care much about my birthday.”
“I let my children do it for their own sake, but I didn’t know it was going to be this spectacular.”
The author said she expected only family and friends to show up.
“To be honest, I don’t think I deserve to stand here,” Ms. Park said.
“I feel a sense of shame for living longer than other people, and for being subject to more rewards than I deserve, compared to those who were never compensated despite great works they did,” she added.
Ms. Park was born in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang province, in 1926. She debuted through Hyundae Munhak, a monthly literature magazine, in 1955 and has previously published the novels “Pyoryudo,” “Pasi,” and “Sijang and Jeonjang.”
In 1969, Hyundae Munhak began serializing “Toji” taking 25 years to finish all five volumes.
Guests at the event included Kim Young-ju, Ms. Park’s daughter and the head of the Toji Foundation of Culture, and her husband, poet Kim Ji-ha. Among other guests were writers, academics, journalists and government officials.
“Park Kyung-ree’s novel ‘Toji’ shows that if one loses the spirit of self-determination, one loses oneself,” said Yonsei University Professor and literature critic Jung Hyon-kee.
“Throughout her life, she displayed the divine nature and dignity of existence through her work and everyday life.”
Former Prime Minister Lee Soo-sung picked Hong Myeong-hi’s “Limggeokjeong” and Ms. Park’s “Toji” as the novels that touched him the most.
Mr. Lee said Ms. Park’s novel moved him so deeply that he views her as his guide to life.
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