“Pomegranate” is one of Lee Hyoseok’s shorter pieces of fiction. It follows a plot pattern that became more evident in his later fiction (that written after 1935 or so) in that the protagonist is a woman who suffers from the patriarchal strictures of the Confucian culture of the times. It is implied that the protagonist Jaehee becomes pregnant at the hands of one of her schoolmates and later is pushed into marrying a man she doesn’t love because the union might help her father’s failing business. The man she marries turns out to be a swindler, and her father’s business fails even sooner as the result of his malfeasance. The plot also contains another of Lee’s consistent themes: an unrequited love.
About the author
Lee Hyoseok (1907 – 1942) is counted among Korea’s best short story writers along with the likes of Hyun Jin-geon, Yi Taejun, and Park Taewon. Together with his contemporary Yu Jinoh, he was classified as a “fellow traveler” writer. Such an epithet was used to describe writers who, while not officially joining KAPF, sympathized with its ideology and aims and reflected these sympathies in their writing. A number of his early novels such as “City and Specter,” “Siberian Coast,” “Correspondence from the North Country,” and “Mahjong Philosophy” are good examples of such works. However, with the decline of proletariat literature in the early 1930s, Lee became a member of the modernist coterie Group of Nine. After joining the Group of Nine, Lee discarded his socialist leanings in favor of a powerful eroticism based on a lyrical style of storytelling. Characteristic of this style are the works “Pig,” “Bunnyeo,” “Mountains,” and “Fields.”
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