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.