Park: I would rather be an artist than a writer

By 이다영
  • Published : Jun 23, 2011 - 19:35
  • Updated : Jun 23, 2011 - 20:24

Veteran writer’s 39th novel coincides with 39-year-long career

For the past 39 years, author Park Beom-shin has been a busy man. He has raised his three children with his wife, taught at a university, and published almost 40 books.

“I’ve always gone for the second best options in my life,” Park told reporters at a press meeting held in central Seoul, Wednesday. “It was the only way to compromise. I had too many things to take care of at once. But from now on, I want writing to be my top priority, nothing else.”

Park, who will retire from his teaching job in August at Myongji University’s creative program where he taught for 28 years, has published his latest novel, “My Hand Turns Into A Horseshoe.” The book is his 39th novel.
The cover of author Park Beom-shin’s newest novel,“My Hand Turns Into A Horseshoe.” (J-books)

Author Park Beom-shin who has just released his latest novel, “My Hand Turns Into A Horseshoe.” (J-Books)

“I’ve counted all my books I have at home,” Park told reporters, adding he’s written 39 books in the past 39 years. “But I think I might have written one or two more.”

A dark, powerful mix of violence, love and murder, Park’s new novel tells a story of a tormented and impoverished male protagonist, a former prisoner who works as a janitor at an eerie and mysterious residential building.

As the man begins to realize the hidden truths about the building and its evil manager Lee, his hand slowly turns into a horseshoe. He begins to murder people with it, whenever he becomes irrationally angry about the world and those around him.

“I wanted to talk about the violence of capitalism with this book,” Park told reporters. “I wanted to say that what we call ‘peace’ right now, including the pretty cafes, splendid streets and nicely dressed people, can all be an illusion.”

He also said that writing this novel, filled with murder and despair, has been particularly stressful. “I don’t enjoy killing my characters in novels, and this it becomes your karma every time you do it,” he said. “But this world does not make me write heartwarming stories.”

Park, whose youngest son is “finally” getting married this summer, is planning to move back to his hometown ― Nonsan in South Chungcheong Province ― and concentrate only on writing.

“I consider the wedding of my youngest son as the end of my job as a father,” Park said. “Now I just want to write what I think is the best form of literature.”

Park said he’s always wanted to be called an artist, rather than a writer.

“I’ve always wanted to live a life of an artist,” he said. “And I think Korea has gone through a series of time periods where it demanded too much from writers.”

Always having so many things that he wants to write about, Park said he does not understand writers who suffer from lack of ideas.

“I don’t know if I can ever stop writing,” he said.

“The only time I feel like I am being saved is when I am writing. I often feel like my social life in reality is a dream, and the world in my books is the reality.”

By Claire Lee (