Everlasting Empire

Yi In-hwa

Published by Eastbridge, 2002
ISBN 10: 1891936026 / ISBN 13: 9781891936029
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Synopsis: Winner of the 2002 Daesan Foundation prize for Outstanding Literature in Translation.

Everlasting Empire (Yongwonhan chekuk) is a Korean historical novel written as a mystery story. The narrator frames the main story with his "discovery" of a 150-year-old manuscript. Because of problems verifying the authenticity of the original writer, the narrator offers the book not as genuine history but as a story.

The narrative opens on a winter morning in 1800 with the discovery that the Royal Book Examiner has died in the night while working alone on a secret project for the Korean king. His death sets in motion a series of events revealing the contours of philosophical and political conflict among the literati in the royal court. Set at a pivotal moment in Korean history, when the nation's last strong king was attempting to consolidate the authority of the monarchy against the dangerous encumbrance of bureaucratic factional infighting, and when Western ideas were beginning to infiltrate Korea, Everlasting Empire is not only an exciting and informative novel but offers genuine insight into the history and culture of late eighteenth-early nineteenth century Korea.

The original Korean edition was published in 1993 and was a bestseller in Korea, selling more than one million copies. In was translated into French and published by Maisonneuve & Larose in 2000 and was made into a film in Korean which collected six prestigious Grand Bell Awards.

"Yi In-hwa has achieved a goal that eludes most authors of historical fiction: He has created a tale so plausible that it can almost pass for the work of a historian rather than a novelist. This novel opens a window into the turbulent world of Chosen dynasty politics, in which political disagreements often had deadly consequences. Yi In-hwa has captured the rivalries, cruelty, and treachery on Chongjo's Seoul with a vividness equaled by few historical records, or even historians' reconstructions. I recommend Everlasting Empire to anyone who wants to experience political intrigue on the Korean peninsula two centuries ago." -From the Introduction by Don Baker

About the Author: Yi In-hwa is the pen name of You Chul-gun, a professor of Korean Language and Literature at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. He received the first Writers' World Literature Award for his novel Who Can Say What I Am? in 1992. He is also the recipient of the Korean government's 1995 Today's Young Artist award and the Chinese government's first Korea-China Youth scholarship award. In 2000, Yi received the prestigious Yi Sang Award for his short story "A Poet's Star."

Yu Young-nan is a freelance translator based in Seoul. She has translated several Korean works into English, including The Naked Tree by Pak Wan-so. Her translations of Yl Mu-yong’s "Lesson One, Chapter One" and "Farmers" received the Korean Modern Literature Translation Award.

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Title: Everlasting Empire
Publisher: Eastbridge
Publication Date: 2002
Book Condition: very good

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