Jeongbin Kim’s most recent novel, Six Months with Buddha(Soseolgyong, as it is pronounced in Korean) is the fruition of his life-long study and practice of Buddhism. It tells the story of a young Indian couple, Raja and Sirima, and their journey to become Buddha’s followers. Written in a simple and engaging style, the book embeds the philosophy and principles of Buddhism into fiction. In writing Six Months with Buddha, Kim was inspired by famous Christian literature masterpieces such as Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Goethe’sFaust. More than just a simple recollection of Buddhist principles or a practical guide, Six Months with Buddha is designed to mark the start of a new breed of Buddhist fiction that follows in the footsteps of these greats.
Jung Rae Jo’s ten-volume novel, Taebaek Sanmaek, was published in South Korea between 1986-1989. It is his most significant work to date and, with searing realism and sincerity, it portrays the confusion and brutality of Korea’s first years after the Second World War and its liberation from Japanese colonisation. The Taebaek Sanmaek series was followed by Arirang in 1994 and The River Han in 2008, which went on to address more recent periods in Korea’s history.
Taebaek Sanmaek is regarded as one of the most influential novels in South Korea today. It embodies the sorrow and pain the Korean nation had to undergo as a result of the ideological opposition within the society. Amid the politics is the personal – the book examines how even as confusion and chaos prevail, love can survive and how those who lived through such terrible events learnt to overcome their suffering.
Who is going to rule the world of work in the 21st century? The answer could be found in history books. In A History of Commerce: Europe and Beyond, Myung Joh offers an intriguing Asian scholar’s perspective on the 500 years of the commercial history of the West. In ten chronological chapters, Joh leads the reader from the Middle Ages through to the beginning of commercialisation.
Until the 1500s, it was the East that were the kings of world trade. But gradually, different trade leaders began to emerge: Spain in the 16th century; Netherlands in the 17th; England in the 19th century and, by the end of the 20th century, the United States. So who will be world leaders of commercial trade in the future? What factors will come into play? According to Joh, there will be no single leader; instead, different countries will engage in a complex interplay of trade interest and policies, each with its own distinctive role.
David is a perfectionist – in all things. Under pressure to get into medical school in Seoul, he makes a deal with God that is to haunt him for the rest of his life. Alienating himself from women, his life is devoted to medicine and helping patients, until a text message changes everything. He doesn’t even believe in God. So why does he start hearing a mysterious voice, warning him of things to come? When the voice’s prophecies start to come true, despair brings him to the brink of madness. A fascinating insight into the pressures of one man’s growing up in contemporary Korea. An angst-ridden story of life, love and duty. And the voice. This is Jeon’s first book. The second volume is due to be published in February 2013.