Kong’s Garden by Hwang Jungeun is a short story that will nevertheless make you experience the atmosphere of a detective story. The main character’s point of view is similar to what you may know from Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman (Dziewczyna z konbini) – the narrator describes ordinary days working in a bookstore, ignoring the social pressure to get an education – an approach common in South Korea.
In addition to the everyday life of the narrator, the story of Kong’s Garden focuses on the disappearance of young Junji – a girl whom the narrator meets moments before. An unsettling atmosphere slowly permeates the bookstore’s routine and her attempts to find the girl make her wonder if there may be an additional room hidden under the bookstore… Although the book is relatively short, the events slowly unfold before the readers’ eyes. The calmly paced plot and the sense of imminent trouble are probably the elements of Kong’s Garden that led the translator to compare Hwang Jungeun with Cormack McCarthy.
The Yeoyu series is a collection of mini books featuring short stories and novellas. Yeoyu (여유) means a place or space, and in this case, the space of free self-discovery, a place where you can breathe and feel at ease. True to its name, the series presents the texts of some of the most interesting Korean writers, often experimental, surprising and unusual. Its counterpart presenting writers from Japan is Keshiki.