The Moving Fortress
Translated by Bruce Fulton
2016, 322 pages
ISBN 978-1-937385-91-0 Paper $25.00
ISBN 978-1-937385-92-7 Cloth $38.00
Hwang Sunwŏn’s The Moving Fortress (1972) is a panorama of Korea and Koreans coming to terms with the confrontation of tradition with modernity. In this sense it echoes such novels as Tanizaki Junichiro's The Makioka Sisters. By turns hard-boiled and lyrical, rooted in the workaday lives of slum-dwellers as well as the bizarre dreams of the affluent, alive with vibrant images of the metropolis of Seoul as well as the immemorial countryside, the novel epitomizes the rich variety of Hwang Sun-wŏn's art. To capture this variety Hwang employs a cinematic style, cutting rapidly from one scene to the next. Contemporary events, such as the demolition of a squatter neighborhood, as well as flashbacks to the Korean War, help to set the social and historical context of the novel.