AUTHOR: Se-hui Cho
GENRE: Literature & fiction
The dark side of Korea’s “economic miracle” emerges in “The Dwarf,” Se-hui Cho’s enormously popular and critically acclaimed work.
First published in 1978, it speaks to the painful social costs of reckless industrialization, even as it tellingly portrays the spiritual malaise of the newly rich and powerful and a working class subject to forces beyond its control.
Cho’s lean, clipped, deceptively simple style and the rapidly shifting points of view, terse dialogue and subtle irony evoke the particularities of life in Korea during the 1970s. The desperate realities of life for the dwarf, the proverbial little guy upon whose back Korea’s economic transformation largely took place, are emotively rendered in 12 linked stories examining the lives of a laboring family, a family of the newly emerging middle class and that of a wealthy industrialist. The stories have overlapping characters and situations: the murder of a swindler, a family’s eviction from a squatter settlement, the assassination of an important executive and the dwarf’s fantasy of a planet where life is easier.