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Just a Person홍은전

The “me” of the text is more subtle, more serious, and fiercer than the real me. When I write, I try to listen more attentively to the stories of others and look more closely, and make an effort to gain the smallest kind of insight. When I write is when I’m the most moved, when I reflect on myself the most, and when I rack my brains the most to find a word that will offer encouragement. Writing is always scary, but I was able to continue because I hoped that what I wrote would lead me in a slightly better direction. - From “Foreword: Why I Write”

『Just a Person』

Author: Hong Eun-jeon
Publisher: Spring Days Book
Publication date: September 25, 2020
Number of pages: 264
Format: 125x215mm
ISBN : 9791186372791

홍은전

She has been active in the Nodule Popular School for Disabled People and wrote Let’s Still Begin Our Lesson on the disabled people’s fight against discrimination, as well as The Dream of The Golden Fields, on the people at the Nodule school. She has also been a member of Sori, the Network for Documenting Human Rights, and documented the stories of the survivors of the Brothers’ Home abuse in Busan and of the bereaved families of the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.

For the Small and Weak

 

Just a Person is a private, yet public, record of the five years author Hong Eun-jeon spent after quitting the Nodeul Popular School for Disabled People. Consider the dramatic changes of Hong Eun-jeon in those years against the stark reality of a Korean society that has barely changed (or even regressed) in that same time period. This book documents the life of the weakest of the weak of our society (especially their pain and their resistance) in the most straightforward, ferocious and lyrical way. The empathy of Hong Eun-jeon contained within its pages reacts, with warmth, to the very small beings, so tiny as to be the more precious.

In the text, there are many common events and accidents that we can also recall, but it is also “haunted” by people and beings who we’d never even known existed. They are not only the living, but also people who were thought to be alive but “suddenly” passed away in accidents and people who are, then as now, in constant pain, and thus resist. There are countless animals as well. No matter where you open it up, you can find sentences that convey – mostly calmly, but sometimes intensely – Hong Eun-jeon’s joy and sorrow, rage and despair, and guilt and shame.

Reading the book, I feel more cheerful when I get to meet the cats Kara and Hongsi, and instead of words like “my heart ached,” there often appear phrases such as “My heart was pounding” or “It felt shockingly good.” Hong Eun-jeon’s revolutionary transformation since meeting the cats – that is, her interest and activism in vegetarianism and animal rights – very clearly shows how wide and deep the life of a writer can expand through meeting the object of her affection, and at the same time, how deep and wide her body of written work can become.

 

“The reason Hong Eun-jeon’s writing is good is that she knows very precisely why she is writing. Hong Eun-jeon is not writing to “stand in” for those suffering from discrimination and oppression to convey their pain. She writes to “boast” of her encounters with the marvelous beings she has met. I marveled at Hong Eun-jeon’s writing, then was jealous that she got to meet with such people and seize the opportunity to write such a book, then thought this is the kind of writing I’ve always wanted to write, then, I realize, in order to do that, from now on, I have to live differently.”

 

By Kwon-Kim Hyun-young
scholar of Women’s Studies



Translated by