Human Acts By Han Kang

Title: Human Acts

Author: Han Kang

Context: Human Acts (2014) is a historical fiction novel set in South Korea in the 1980s. This is a tragic story about Dong-ho a young boy who is shockingly killed in South Korea in the midst of a violent uprising of students. Human Acts is a pointillist and timeless portrait of an historic event with the echoing being felt even till today. By turns, this controversial and award-winning bestseller traces the resounding extraordinary poetry of humanity and the harsh reality of oppression.

Synopsis: The tragic tale unravels in a sequence of chapters all interconnected with each other as both the bereaved and victims encounter denial, suppression and the reverberating pain of the massacre. All the brutalized victims are in search of a voice in the novel including the best friend of Dong-ho who meets his own tragic end, Dong-ho’s mother who is struck with grief, the editor who grapples against censorship, the factory worker and the prisoner. All of them are suffering from traumatic memories and suffering from heartbreaks collectively. With their acts of hope, they are on the hunt of a voice.

In 1979, the military dictator of South Korea, Park was assassinated resulting into civil unrest and imposition of martial law. Workers who were unionized recently protest their working conditions. The authoritarian government called for greater democratization and reacted in traditional fashion.  Government troops fired upon and beat up Jeonnam University students on 18th May 1980 leading to widespread outrage. In solidarity, people from all walks of life took to the streets. Soldiers sent by the superiors, bayoneted, clubbed and fired on the students leading to hundreds of civilian deaths. This uprising, the aftermath, tortured and bereavement of the cruelty continues to cast across consciousness in South Korea.

Other works by the Author:

1995 – A Love of Yeosu

1998 – The Black Deer

2000 – Fruits of My Woman

2002 – Your Cold Hand

2003 – Essay Books – Love and The Things Around the Love

2007 – Quietly Sung Songs

2007 –  The Vegetarian

2010 – Breath Fighting

2011 – Greek Lessons

2012 – Fire Salamander

2013 – Poetry – I Put the Evening in the Drawer

2016 – The White Book

Winter in Seoul – (Five Poems)

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