The Water Mill

20th Century Korean Literature

Book 11
Literature Translation Institute of Korea

 Published in September of 1925 in the Joseon Mundan, “The Water Mill”, along with his other short story “Mulberry”, is the most representative of his realistic writing style. Like Kim Yu-jeong’s “April Showers” (Sonakbi) and Yi Hyo-seok’s “When the Buckwheat Flower Blooms” (Maemilkkot Pil Muryup), it is a work that illustrates a tragic love affair that happens at the water mill. In other words, this piece depicts the passionate crime that involves Shin Chi-kyu, a wealthy and powerful man in the village, his farmhand and servant Lee Bang-won, and Lee Bang-won’s wife. Although we see aspects of class conflict in “The Water Mill”, it is fundamentally a piece that realistically illustrates the intrinsic nature and sexual desire of man. “The Water Mill” paints a vivid picture of man’s greed for material wealth, his sexual instincts, and the poverty that exists, as well as the feelings of loss that result from it. It is a piece that graphically exposes the dark reality of the Colonial Period and the nature of man that originated from it.
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About the author

 Na Do-hyang’s (1902~1927) real name is Kyung-sohn and his pen name is Bin. He was born in 1902. After graduating from Baejae Normal High School, he was admitted to Kyeongseong Medical School but dropped out and went to Tokyo, Japan, to study literature, returning in 1919 to teach at an elementary school in Andong for one year. He began his literary career in 1921, publishing “Leaving Home” (Choolhyang) in the Baejae School Newspaper (Baejae Hakbo) and later on, his short story “Memory” (Chueok) in the People’s Opinion (Shimin Gongrohn). In 1922, as a member of the literary coterie magazine The Swan (Baekjo), he published his work “The Seasons of a Young Person” (Jeolmunieui Shijeol) in its first edition.

In 1925, with the publication of his artistically mature pieces like “The Water Mill” (Mullaebanga), “Mulberry” (Bbong), and “Mute Sam-ryong” (Beongeori Samryong), he received much attention as a writer. He died on August 26, 1927. His full-length novel, “Mother” (Uhmuhni) (1939) was published posthumously. In his early years, his writings reflected an emotional and artistic world, but his later works like “The Water Mill” were much more realistic and used short story elements. He is considered to be the representative author of the Colonial Period, for he clearly depicted the dark realities of that time.

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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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