Into the Ground

Cho Myung-hee, Mi-Ryong Shim (Translator)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Cho Myung-hee’s short story “Into the Ground” recounts the psychological and physical deterioration of the protagonist/narrator as he struggles with extreme poverty and hunger in the colonial capital of Seoul. Upon returning home from his study in Tokyo, the protagonist moves to Seoul with dreams of becoming a writer, but he finds himself trapped by both poverty and a loveless early marriage. In falling into a desperate hand-to-mouth existence, he joins the dispossessed masses of colonial Korea.

Written and published during a period of harsh censorship, “Into the Ground” is remarkably frank in its critique of the social, economic, and racial inequalities of Japanese colonialism. It addresses the brutality of the colonial police, the Japanese settler colonialists’ racist attitudes and economic exploitation of the Korean population, and even the draconian measures of the censorship office. In addition to functioning as an exposé about the lives of the underclass, the short story is a study on how intense physical deprivation comes to affect one man’s psyche. Cho Myung-hee experiments with various writing styles to achieve these ends, from juxtaposing violent imageries with interior monologues to having lines of prose burst into sections of verse that seem to speak directly to the readers as both a lament and a call to arms.
Original languageOther
PublisherLiterature Translation Institute of Korea
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9788993360554
StatePublished - 2014

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