“Downpour” (Sonakbi, alternately translated as “The Rainstorm,” 1935), with its casual depiction of domestic violence, survival sex, and gambling as coping mechanisms in colonial-era rural Korea, offers a rare glimpse into what life must have been like for the uneducated and disempowered in that period. While the weather metaphor may strike some readers as slightly on-the-nose, it is executed with undeniable poetry, as exemplified in such scenes as Chunho and his wife (who is never named) sharing a rare moment in each other’s arms while rain batters against their roof. From the atmospheric first sentence to the laconically uttered last line, “Downpour” is a masterful piece of storytelling from one of the great voices of 1930s Korean literature.
About the author
Kim Yu-jeong (1908 – 1937)’s stories portray, with a unique, folksy sense of humor, everyday people living out hardscrabble lives against the bleak backdrop of rural Korea. Kim Yu-jeong made his literary debut in 1935 with the selection of “The Rainstorm” by the Chosun Ilbo, and “The Bonanza” by the Joseon Jungang Ilbo. He then went on to publish prolifically during the two short years before his death in 1937, leaving behind more than 30 novels and 10 essays, and opening up a new horizon in Korean literature.
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