The work of South Korean writer Gong Ji-Young—one of the main names in world literature today—was selected as the theme for the 3rd Essay Contest on Korean Literature, launched Thursday (Aug. 23) at the headquarters of the National Writers’ Association (ANE), in Brasília.
The contest, organized in partnership with the Korean Literature Translation Institute (LTI-Korea), will award high-school students across Brazil who write the best essays on Gong Ji-Young’s novel Our Happy Time, recently released in Brazil.
The South Korean novelist, who has sold over 12 million books worldwide, attended the competition’s opening ceremony and answered questions on recurrent topics in her novels, like capital punishment, sexism, human rights, and crime.
In addition to Brasília, Ji-Young is to visit Rio de Janeiro, where she will receive a tribute from scholars and other writers at PEN Clube do Brasil, where she is also expected to deliver a lecture on her creative process.
Gong Ji-Young said she is always posed the same questions whenever she meets journalists anywhere in the world—what does she do to sell so many books? Ji-Young says she does not know the answer. “I’d love to unravel the secret myself,” she quipped, dismissively. She added, however, that she has conducted a considerable amount of research into the topic for her next novel: “I sometimes read some 150 books on the topic I intend to address,” she said.
Regarding South Korea—a nation currently going through a promising economic boom, sparked by exports in state-of-the-art technology—Gong Ji-Young said the progress of her country brings along with it a number of material benefits and employment opportunities.
On the other hand, the novelist also mentioned materialism and excessive competition as alarming issues facing societies experiencing quick growth—like South Korea. “In a society where competition and materialism reign, where you’re encouraged to tread on others for your own survival, sweet, tender words—saying that you don’t always have to be the winner, you don’t always have to be rich and powerful—may really make a difference. Especially when these words come from someone trampled on and humiliated by a misogynistic society.”
Students interested in participating must visit ANE at http://www.anenet.com.br/ (Portuguese) and send their piece on the novel, observing the instructions given.