New version of ‘Whale Hunting’ released
When Koreans think of the name “Whale Hunting,” they often think of Bae Chang-ho’s 1984 movie of the same title.
Taking place in the 1970s and ‘80s, the movie reflects young adults and their struggles through the military dictatorship and rapid industrialization that took place in post-civil war Korea. The film was widely popular, attracting almost half a million viewers in the first year of its release.
The story, however, came from the book “Whale Hunting” by Choi In-ho, which was originally published in 1983, and revolves around Byung-tae, a timid university student who is too shy to even share his feelings towards fellow classmate Mi-ran. After meeting Min-woo, a beggar, Byung-tae is introduced to Chun-ja at a brothel.
Byung-tae is intrigued by Chun-ja and quickly develops a relationship with her.
Through facing the difficulties of society with Min-woo and Chun-ja, Byung-tae comes to realize the true meaning of love and friendship.
Choi was born in Seoul in 1945. He graduated from the Department of English Literature at Yonsei University, and received attention for bringing to light controversial issues, winning several awards including the Yi Sang Literary Award in 1982 for “Deep Blue Night.”
Many of his works have been translated into various languages including English, German and French. In 2013, Choi passed away from cancer. He was 68 at the time.
In the fifth year following Choi’s death, a new version of
“Wha le Hunting” was released in November. This edition has a slightly differen t orthography and includes Cho i ’s “Youth Cultural Declaration,” which was published in 1974 and sparked discourse on youth culture. Prior to Choi, this subject was rarely touched upon by other Korean authors.
“There was no such thing as youth culture in Korea,” says Kang In-suk, Director of the Young-In Literary Museum. “The author who discovered it was Choi In-ho.” Kang also praises Choi for maintaining his youthful personality and writing style throughout his career. She considers “Whale Hunting” as a representative work of this youth culture and protagonist Byeong-tae as the embodiment of a young adult striving to reach his dreams.
Due to Korea’s increasingly competitive nature, the Sampo Generation — the current young generation that has given up on love, marriage and having children — has been renamed as the N-Po Generation, which has given up on even more assets such as hobbies and interpersonal relationships. Through the re-release of this book, publishers hope to give strength to the young adults of today and inspire them to reach their goals.
“Whale Hunting” by the late author Choi In-ho