A love of the landPark Kyung-ree, the contemporary Korean writer who passed away on Monday, was a legend in Korea’s literary world. Her masterpiece, “Toji [The Land]” marked a peak in the history of Korean literature. The 21-volume novel is a majestic epic that captures the turbulent first-half of the 20th century in Korea. The story starts during a festival on a traditional holiday in Hadong, North Gyeongsang, in 1897. It ends with people celebrating liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945.
The writer vividly portrayed the grassroots of history — stories about people and places that history books often ignore.
The novel was adapted into a TV series of the same name featuring the story’s main character, Seo-hi, who lived through the adversities of modern Korean history. Some 700 characters from the story are still alive in the hearts of most Koreans.
Chosen as the best novelist to represent Korea by publishers and as one of most outstanding women of the 20th century in an Internet poll, no other writer was more beloved by Koreans than Park.
Known for her love of the people and nature of this land, she built the Toji Foundation of Culture in Wonju, Gangwon, where she lived. In this space for creative writing, she faithfully played the role of elder in the literary world by teaching talented youngsters. Park was also one of the first people to maintain that Seoul’s Cheonggye Stream should be restored as a place for cultural events and a living ecosystem.
Park’s creative spirit and love of life will never vanish from our land thanks to her works, the foundation, the people who miss her dearly and their love for literature.