Kim Dong-in (1900-1951), together with Yi Gwang-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 Gwang-su, who saw literature as a vehicle for enlightenment and whose characters were more flatly drawn.
At the same time, Kim declared that fiction should create an autonomous world whose value inhered within itself. His belief in “art for art’s sake” led him to a unique method of composition which he likened to handling puppets. In Kim’s view of literary creation a writer must act like a puppet master, controlling his characters, just as God created human beings. This attitude contributes unbridled free rein to a writer’s imagination.