Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, September 23, 2013

"The Salary Man" by Krys Lee (from Drifting House, 2012)

Krys Lee is a new to be writer that I am thrilled to have found.   Most of her stories focus on residents of North or South Korea or immigrants to the USA.   The stories I have so far posted on deal with the mind numbing hardship of life in North Korea and the struggles to survive of those in the South or in the USA.    Older immigrants stay totally in the boundaries of Korean communities.  

"The Salary Man" shows in a painfully real and vivid fashion what happened to 1000s of people who thought they had life time employment locked in when the South Korean economy collapsed in the mid  1990s.   At one time if you got a job at a major Korean corporation you were almost guaranteed life time employment.   Managers were revered, at least to their face, and corporations were paternalistic.  In bailing out the Korean economy, the International Monetary Fund put such strict requirements on the government that businesses were forced to lay off large numbers of workers.  Many workers, including the central figure in this story was so shamed they waited long periods before telling their families, often getting dressed for work and then sitting in the park all day.  We witness the terrible decline and hardship of the salary man.  He sends his wife and kids to live with her parents, saying once he is back working he will set up a home for them again.    His life becomes worse and worse every day.  Soon he is among many 1000s of homeless ex-salary men.  His wife divorces him.  He learns to survive on the street though his mental state degenerates sadly. ,

I hope to read a lot more of the work of Krys Lee.  

Krys Lee was born in Seoul in The Republic of Korea and raised in England and the United States.  Her debut collection of short storiesDrifting House (2012) is drawing great praise from all over the world, with the exception of North Korea where I suspect being caught with a copy would get you in very serious trouble

No comments: