Through the voices of her characters, Han Kang recounts the Gwangju uprising against continued repressive South Korean governments from Park Chung-hee’s stronghold to Chun Doo-hwan — another army general who assassinated Park. The army is brought in and fires indiscriminately at demonstrators. Our journey begins with the collection of bodies and parents trying to identify their children. Decades later, we learn that the after effects of this tragedy still linger.
This is not a novel for the faint at heart. It hits hard with real facts, and the writing is powerful. I’m impressed by a translation that didn’t seem to water down the emotional repercussions or gory details.