“Seoul, So Far Away” from Who Ate Up All the Shinga?

Park Wan-suh

“Suddenly a blinding flash shot from a building straight into my eyes. The light was unlike any I’d seen before. There was no fire, but it was more intense than any flame. I clung to my mother in fear. She told me to stop being silly, that it was just the sun reflecting off a glass window. I could make out that a sunbeam was hitting something and giving off a ray, but I didn’t understand what she meant by ‘glass window.” —Park Wan-suh

What was life like for a little girl growing up in Japanese-occupied Korea? In Who Ate Up All the Shinga? An Autobiographical Novel, Park Wan-suh details her experience growing up during the Japanese occupation of Korea and the impacts of the Korean War. Translated into English by Yu Young-nan and Stephen J. Epstein, this autobiographical novel’s sardonic wit and profound storytelling drive the incredibly personal narrative. 

“Seoul, So Far Away,” an excerpt from chapter two, follows a young Park’s journey with her mother from her grandparents’ home to the unfamiliar, bustling city of Seoul. She chronicles the barrage of emotions that accompany leaving behind a place of comfort and moving into an entirely new world, leaving the reader asking what this new reality has in store for her.

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