Review: The Ancient Garden by Hwang Sok-Yong
For readers who have been with us from the start of this blog, you might have already known that my boyfriend, Steven, and I are of different nationalities. While I am a Filipino, my boyfriend is a native Korean. Both of us are still in the process of understanding our cultural differences. When I bought this novel by Hwak Song Yong, a South Korean writer, my intention was to know more about Korean culture. The book is quite heavy running into 543 pages, took me more than a month to finish.
It is challenging to do a review about “The Ancient Garden” and I never thought I could finish reading the 543 pages. This is one of the novels that I really needed to read and digest in order to appreciate the way it was written. I am not sure if I am the person to discuss about politics which was the major issue in the story because I don’t like politics. Writing in the first person, Hwang Sok Yong allows the reader to get to know more of the main characters in the novel and see the world through the eyes of each.
The story was told from two perspectives. One is from Oh Hyun Woo, the male protagonist and was described as the activist while the otherwas from the point of view of Han Yoon Hee, the tragic heroine in the story. The title ‘The ancient garden’ refers to the place called “Kalmae” where the love between Oh Hyun Woo and Han Yoon Hee began. Han Yoon Hee is really an interesting character. I love how she showed her bravery against life’s cruelties which she experienced from childhood and up to the time of her death. Oh Hyun Woo was already put in prison before Han Yoon Hee found out that she was pregnant with their child. To add to the pain, Han Yoon Hee was not allowed to visit Oh Hyun Woo in the prison because she has no document to prove that she was legally related to Oh Hyun Woo. With that, she was forced to face life, alone with her baby. The author has an incredible talent in writing a novel that will make his readers feel the pain and loneliness, and hope in the story. It is so fascinating and realistic. This book made me cry. Every chapter has the power to move someone’s heart.
“The Ancient Garden” is definitely one of my favorites this 2018. It is really a beautiful reading, more especially for readers who are avid fans of Korean soap operas as well. Although this is quite a long novel, I did not regret having bought it. In fact, I would like to read more of Hwang Sok Yong.
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