In “Our Toes Are Alike ” (Balgaragidalmattda, 1932), Kim deploys his skills as a satirist and sardonic social commentator within a framework of literary naturalism. Here the first-person narrator contemplates the life of his friend “M,” whose debauched sexual adventuring has likely left him sterile. Though the text provides a window into the underlying patriarchal misogyny of the period, the narrator’s incisive portrait of the self-deception that M experiences when his wife unexpectedly becomes pregnant have a larger human resonance. The work also leaves an interesting footnote in Korean literary history: it created a rift between Kim and noted fellow author Yŏm Sang-seop, who believed that the plot had been based upon rumors about his own life.
About the author
Kim Dong-in (1900 – 1951), together with Yi Kwang-su, is one of early modern Korean literature’s representative writers of “pure” fiction. His debut work “The Sorrow of the Weak,” which appeared in the journal Changjo (Creation) in 1919, is considered the first Korean short story to focus in earnest on character development and psychological analysis. A clear, concise style is the hallmark of Kim’s writing. As the first author to adopt the plain past tense “-ieottda” style and to establish an objective stance in fiction with a third person point of view, he is regarded as having employed a realistic technique and well-rounded character types, in contrast to Yi Kwang-su, who saw literature as a vehicle for enlightenment and whose characters were more flatly drawn.
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