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Novelist Son Jang Soon Donates 2 Billion KRW to SNU

  • December 7, 2011
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Novelist Son is smiling"I have written books thinking life is transient but it came to me one day that I should do something worthwhile as the last thing I do in my life."

Novelist SON Jang Soon, a sensational novelist of the 1970s who has written a number of controversial works influenced by French existentialist literature, has donated 2 billion KRW to SNU.

SNU announced on November 7 that it is establishing the ‘Son Jang Soon Literary Research Fund’ with her donation. Son, when we visited her house in Seocho-gu for an interview that day, was again absorbed in plotting her next book.

"The 2 billion KRW I donated is what I gained as compensation for my days of solitude," said Son. Divorced from her first husband at the age of 30, Son lived alone until she remarried when she was 42. Her most important works, The Korean (1969) and The Castle of Se Hwa (1976) were written during these years.

Having made her debut with Ip-Sang and Cheon-Shin in 1958, Son has published about 20 novels to this day. She has also been awarded various literary awards throughout her career, such as the Korea Women’s Literature Award in 1967, the Pen Literary Award in 1996 and the Yoo Chu Hyun Literary Award in 2008. She said that she has lived as a thrifty person to keep the motivation of a poor, young writer. Indeed, it was hard to find something newly bought in her house. In her living room stood an electric stove she has used for 40 years.

Son decided to make the donation right after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2009. She said that she had thought about donating her fortune before then but it was the cancer that made her hurry. She had made plans to make a donation however they were repeatedly delayed due to several surgeries she had to undergo until this April. “I felt comfortable after finally handing over the 2 billion won,” Son said. “I felt like I have completed one of my life’s missions.”

An SNU graduate having majored in French literature, Son requested that the fund established with her donation be used to annually support 3 foreign students from English, German or French-speaking countries who study Korean literature at SNU.

Written by YOON Byung Hun, SNU English Editor, joshualiveshigh@nate.com  ?
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor, morningcalm2@gmail.com
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