Translated by Jennifer M. Lee and Jonathan R. Bagley
2016, 224 pages
ISBN 978-1-937385-97-2 Paper $23.00
ISBN 978-1-937385-98-9 Cloth $45.00
Farewell Valley is divided into four seasons each represented by a different character. It takes place in a remote village in Kangwŏn Province, where Farewell Valley Station is located.
Shin T’aemuk losses his family during the Korean War and suffers from the guilt of having killed an innocent person while working as stationmaster. Chŏng Tongsu, a young station attendant who grew up not knowing his father, later uncovers the truth about his death. Chŏn Sullye is taken to Manchuria to work as a comfort woman, a prostitute for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Her story problematizes and reflects the ongoing comfort women issue in Korea. As a child Yang Sunji gave away the whereabouts of a soldier who deserted his unit and the soldier’s death causes her to live with guilt.
The cyclical construction of the novel parallels the four seasons. Although all these characters are emotionally and physically affected, this novel presents a new beginning. Im Ch’ŏru uses butterflies to represent hope. At moments of despair, butterflies appear to represent a sense of optimism and rebirth.