Kang Kyung-ae (1906 – 1944) was a leading writer, feminist, and labor activist during the colonial era. After publishing her short story “Broken Strings” in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in 1931, she migrated to Gando, a.k.a. Jiandao in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of northern China. As a result, much of her writing dealt with the local communist movement and anti-Japanese resistance fighters. By depicting the poverty experienced by ethnic Koreans living in Gando, Kang’s works exposed the dark side of colonialism while giving voice to the resistance.
The most important feature of Kang’s work is her authentic, unembellished depictions of the era and the lives of the people: she neither whitewashes nor distorts. The tragic lives of the lowest rungs of society and the difficult lives of the impoverished are depicted vividly and realistically. From Wonso Pond, a novel that deals with conflicts between tenant farmers and pro-Japanese collaborators, conflicts between capitalists and workers, and the purposeful struggle of the laboring masses, captures the writer’s revolutionary ideology. Her other works, which include “Dismissal,” “The Underground Village,” and “Drugs,” all explore similar themes.