Town tries out author’s novel ideas

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Town tries out author’s novel ideas

HWACHEON, Gangwon ― One village here earned its name, “Damok,” (meaning ‘many woods’ in Korean) because of the deep forest that surrounded it.
This forested hamlet is about to earn another name, as Lee Oi-soo, author of the smash-hit novel “Jang Oe Ingan,” decided to move here and agreed to help the town set up literary facilities for amateur novelists.
When the construction of the facilities is finished, the result with be a 2.5-acre compound called Damok Gamseong Maeul (“Sensibility Town”), a name Mr. Lee thought up himself.
Mr. Lee is known for his eccentricity and pacifism.
“A literary town should be a place where sensibility and sensitivity grows wildly like nature,” he said. “Let the sky and the mountains take turns chairing the town’s government. The cabinet will consist of the roses and the boars in the mountains.”
Like the author’s rough and rather unusual looks, the ideas he suggested for Sensibility Town were rather unique.
“How about if we issue visas of a sort for anyone who wants to enter Sensibility Town?” he suggested. “Then we can keep out those in favor of wars and those who deny the historical atrocities in the town.
“While we’re at it, let’s apply to the UN council to have the town recognized as an independent nation,” the novelist said.
Hwacheon, the county financially supporting Mr. Lee’s sensibility town, is unlikely to be enthusiatic about all of Mr. Lee’s ideas. It has, however, already agreed to spend 2.6 billion won ($2.5 million) to provide him with a 265-square-meter (2,852 square feet) home in the center of the town where he can concentrate on his writing.
Aside from his new house, by 2007, the town will be filled with a library, a seminar hall, an outdoor theater, a grassy walk, and a field of wild chrysanthemums― all for the sake of educating amateur writers and those who want to learn from Mr. Lee.
When officials at Hwacheon county heard that the best-selling author was looking for a new place to move, they offered to provide Mr. Lee with a new home and a literary theme park. His previous home in Gyo-dong, Chuncheon, was becoming “too distracting” for him to work, due to the amount of construction in the city.
The small county said his new home would allow him to work in a natural setting and he agreed to help promote the town. Although he doesn’t plan to move into his new home until March, he decided to hold the party to celebrate the publishing of “Jang Oe Ingan” here last fall. He has also let the town use his name for a local brand to promote its agricultural products.
In “Jang Oe Ingan,” the moon suddenly disappears one day. Only one man, “Jang Oe Ingan (The Outsider)” notices that the moon is missing and tries to discover why, but everyone believes him to be insane.

by Lee Chan-ho, Lee Min-a
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