The Curious Tale of Mandogi's Ghost incorporates Korean
folk tales, ghost stories, and myth into a phenomenal depiction of
epic tragedy. Written by a zainichi, a permanent resident
of Japan who is not of Japanese ancestry, the novel tells the story
of Mandogi, a young priest living on the island of Cheju-do.
Mandogi becomes unwittingly involved in the Four-Three Incident of
1948, in which the South Korean government brutally suppressed an
armed peasant uprising and purged Cheju-do of communist
sympathizers. Although Mandogi is sentenced to death for his part
in the riot, he survives (in a sense) to take revenge on his
enemies and fully commit himself to the resistance.
Mandogi's indeterminate, shapeshifting character is emblematic
of Japanese colonialism's outsized impact on both ruler and ruled.
A central work of postwar Japanese fiction, The Curious Tale of
Mandogi's Ghost relates the trauma of a long-forgotten history
and its indelible imprint on Japanese and Korean memory.
Subjects: Language & Literature, History
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