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Han Sôrya and North Korean Literature: The Failure of Socialist Realism in the DPRK

69 HanSorya
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This first and only study of North Korean literary history by a Western scholar deals with the crucial role played by Han Sôrya, chairman of the D.P.R.K.'s Federation of Literature and Art from 1948 to his purge in 1962, both in devising the iconography of Kim Il Sung's personality cult and in defining the early course of North Korean letters. Through brief studies of Han's own canonical works the author also sets out to dispel the widely-held assumption that North Korean literature is compatible with Soviet and Chinese socialist realism. The appendix includes a complete translation of Han's 1951 novella Jackals (Sûngnyangi).The cartoon on the book cover, which is taken from the New Year's issue of North Korea's Munhak Sinmun in 1958, depicts the most prominent members of the Pyongyang literary scene at the time. Han Sôrya is on the far left, showing the bespectacled Yi Kiyông and other colleagues the way. The banner reads: "For the new creative enhancement of our literature!" | 224 pages


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  1. Han and Korea'as Proletarian Culture Movement
  2. Han and North Korean Literature in the Years After Liberation
  3. Han and North Korean Literature During the Korean War
  4. Han's "Golden Age," 1956-1961
  5. Han's Purge and Rehabillitation, 1962-1969
  • Conclusion: Han Sorya's Legacy Jackals, by Han Sorya
  • Chronology
  • Reference List

  • “A significant contribution to international scholarship on North Korea.”  — Far Eastern Economic Review 
  • “Myers's study is an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of what remains, even today, an opaque society. ... Given the paucity of materials in English on North Korean literature, his book opens an important window onto a virtually unknown subject.”  — Korean Quarterly
  • "A landmark of Korean Studies in the United States ... a great help to English-speaking readers interested in North Korean literature."  — Chosen Gakuho
  •   "A witty, precise study."  — The Wall Street Journal

  • Brian R. MYERS received a doctorate in Korean studies from the Eberhard-Karls-Universitaet.

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