As South Korea violently changed from a military dictatorship to a democratic state, an idealistic activist and a brazen painter shared a brief love affair that would impact the rest of their lives. Drifting to an old house in the countryside where they once sought refuge, Hyun Woo finds Yoon Hee's letters, diaries, and paintings that document the extraordinary life of the woman he loved and lost. He recalls the circumstances that brought him to Yoon Hee and the lifetime they spent apart. As his world shrank in prison, hers expanded as she fought off the loneliness of his absence and witnessed the dramatic events of their country's recent history, the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany, and the harsh natural landscape of Siberia. He also learns that she has left him a living legacy that will help him find his way again. Hyun Woo is fleeing authorities for his participation in the Kwangju Uprising and for promoting democracy in South Korea when he meets and falls in love with Yoon Hee. Their idyllic time together is cut short when Hyun Woo is captured and thrown in prison. Nearly two decades later, he is released to find Korea aggressively modernized, democratic in name, but filled with inequality and corruption. His former comrades are old and jaded, and Yoon Hee, never allowed to see him during his imprisonment, has died. Internationally acclaimed author Hwang Sok-yong presents a tragic love story as two parallel lives. Set against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War and South Korea's political revolution of the eighties, The Old Garden is a tale of faith--in one's country, to one's ideals, and in one's heart.
HWANG SOK-YONG is one of the contemporary masters of Korean literature. His work, which grapples with the troubled history of his divided country, has resulted in his imprisonment, his exile, and the rare achievement of a wide international readership. Hwang's novels in English include The Old Garden, a tragic love story set against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War and South Korea's political revolution of the eighties; The Guest, based on the true account of a violent clash between Communist and Christian neighbors in a Korean village town; and The Shadow of Arms, inspired by his experience as a Korean soldier in the Vietnam War. Some of his recent bestsellers in Korea, where Hwang is among that country's most popular writers, include Baridegi ( Princess Bari ) and Gaebapbaragibyeol ( The Evening Star ), a coming of age novel that Hwang wrote as a blog. From the Hardcover edition.