The Old Garden
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The Old Garden

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  57 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Political prisoner Hyun Woo is freed after eighteen years to find no trace of the world he knew. The friends with whom he shared utopianist dreams are gone. His Seoul is unrecognizably transformed and aggressively modernized. Yoon Hee, the woman he loved, died three years ago. A broken man, he drifts toward a small house in Kalmoe, where he and Yoon Hee once stole a few fl...more
ebook, 544 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Seven Stories Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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Elevate Difference
A garden is a metaphor for revolution. When painstakingly cared for, dry and barren ground can eventually yield the most beautiful of things. A garden can change an unruly landscape to an ordered plot, produce food and purpose, and forever capture the energy of a gardener with loyalty, conviction, and a love of what it could become. It can be simple in activity, process, and outcome, yet incredibly intricate and an entity all its own.

Many of us will never live this metaphor and will never have t...more
Anna
Here’s the story of The Old Garden: A South Korean political prisoner named Hyun Woo is released after 18 years in a cell. He has been almost entirely cut off from a society that moved from military dictatorship to a democratic state still marked by inequality. Upon stepping back into the world, he must re-orient himself to a modernized Korea, as well as to the people he left behind, and the legacy left by the love of his life. This love, Yoon Hee, was an artist who filled notebooks of journals...more
Shirley
There are quiet moments (the cadence is patient, to say the least). I felt it didn't need to be as long as it was...but valuable reading for the historical context (Gwangju Massacre and its wake).
Casey (Myshkin) Buell
The Old Garden is the story of Oh Hyun-Woo, a political dissident, and Han Yoon-Hee, the woman he loves. The story opens as Hyun-Woo is being released after serving 18 years in prison for his involvement in the Kwangju uprising. Sadly for him he finds out that Yoon-Hee died 3 years earlier. He travels to the small house in an isolated village where he and Yoon-Hee spent an idyllic few months while he hid from the authorities, and there finds notebooks left behind by Yoon-Hee detailing her life w...more
speciallyi
Beautiful, graceful, tragic- gives a good stirring to my soul. About a great love, of a country, a state, and lovers.
Love the writing, will check out more of the author's books- and he may well be one of my favourites.

//my blogpost:

Picked this book of the shelves in the library- ah, the loveliness of paperbacks.

Such a beautiful story, well-told, well-crafted.

I know if I were born in another era, I would easily be one of those fiesty students participating and maybe even leading protests. Somet...more
Gerund
A political dissident is released from prison after 18 years, only to discover the woman he loves died while he was incarcerated.

Returning to the secluded southern village where they spent several happy months together, he reads her diaries and learns that they have a daughter, born shortly after he was imprisoned.

This epic novel by renowned South Korean writer Hwang Sok Yong – himself a former political detainee – became a bestseller when it was first published in Korean in 2000 and was made in...more
Daniel Burton-Rose
A melancholy love story set against the backdrop of the political and emotional fallout of the Kwangju massacre. I'm impressed that the novel was translated into English, but don't understand why no translator is credited.
Amanda Hicks
So hard to get through. Make sure you have knowledge of Korean history before you start this book or it will be very confusing.
Dora Okeyo
Loved this book- it goes into my archives as one of the must read for my kids.
Curtis
Apr 14, 2012 Curtis marked it as to-read
Recommended to Curtis by: I forgot. Maybe Powells.com
Checked the ebook out of the library with the Overdrive app.
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He was born in Hsinking (today Changchun), Manchukuo, during the period of Japanese rule. His family returned to Korea after liberation in 1945. He later obtained a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Dongguk University(동국대학교).
In 1964 he was jailed for political reasons and met labor activists. Upon his release he worked at a cigarette factory and at several construction sites around the country....more
More about Hwang Sŏk-yŏng...
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“Even if you are alive somewhere, the absence of the other person who used to be there beside you obliterates your presence. Everything in the room, even the stars in the sky, can disappear in a second, changing one scene for another, just like in a dream.” 13 likes
“The scene [Bruegel's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'] is filled with a vast field, and a cow and a farmer plowing. In the left-hand corner is a tiny ocean the size of a palm, and there, I can barely make it out, the two legs of a man who fell headlong into the sea. This is called the Fall of Icarus. Compared to everyday life, the fall of an idealist who flew too high with candle-wax wings is an unremarkable tragedy.” 2 likes
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