The Golden Bean Patch

20th Century Korean Literature

Book 4
Literature Translation Institute of Korea

 “The Golden Bean Patch” (1935) is a tale of the foolishness of man’s greed, and a reflection of the time Kim Yu-jeong spent around gold mines. Yeong-shik was a hardworking, simple farmer. But when Sujae suggests to him that a vein of gold runs beneath his field, he falls for temptation and digs up his bean plot in the hope of striking it rich and escaping from a life of poverty. Even as Kim describes lives of poverty and suffering in stories such as this, however, he never preaches or moralizes. Rather, even while he exposes the difficulties faced by rural towns, he uses laughter to soften the harshness that would come from a direct portrayal. As can be observed in the actions and conversations of his characters, even though many of his stories take place in an atmosphere of misery, they all possess a distinct levity. Of course, however, there is also a current of sadness and loss running beneath the surface.
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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.

Many of Kim Yu-jeong’s most representational stories—including “Spring, Spring”, “The Mountain Traveler”, “The Rascal”, “The Golden Bean Patch”, and “Camelias”—depict various aspects of life in rural Korea. Kim’s prose, with its liberal use of lively onomatopoeia, rustic dialects, and homespun colloquialisms, lends great animation to his subjects, providing us with vitality-filled sketches of the impoverished and miserable lives lived by the lowest classes in rural villages under Japanese colonial rule. The particular significance of Kim’s stories within Korean literature, however, comes from the consistent sensitivity of feeling which they evince in their telling.

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Additional Information

Literature Translation Institute of Korea
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Published on
Dec 11, 2013
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Literary Collections / Asian / General
Literary Collections / General
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