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Tong-Ni, Kim 1913–1995

Tong-Ni, Kim 1913–1995

(Kim Dong-ni)

PERSONAL: Born November 24, 1913, in Kyôngju, Kyongsangnam-do, Korea; died 1995.

CAREER: Chungang University, professor of creative writing. Korean Art Academy, president.

MEMBER: Korean Literature Association (former president).

AWARDS, HONORS: Freedom literary prize, 1955; Korean National Academy of Arts award, 1958; Samil literary award, 1967; named to Order of the Camellia, 1968; named to Order of the Peony, 1970; Seoul City cultural prize, 1970; May Sixteenth national award, 1983.



Saban ui sipchaga, 1958, reprinted, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1995, translated with an introduction, by Sol Sun-bong as The Cross of Shaphan, Pace International Research (Arch Cape, OR), 1983.

Ûlhwa (novel; also transliterated as Urhwa and Ûlhwa), 1978, translated by Ahn Junghyo in Ûlhwa, the Shaman: A Novel of Korea and Three Stories, Larchwood Publications (Larchmont, NY), 1979, translated by Hyun Song Shin and Eugene Chung as The Shaman Sorceress, Kegan Paul International (New York, NY), 1989.

Some of Tong-ni's stories have been translated and published in anthologies, including A Ready-Made Life: Early Masters of Modern Korean Fiction, selected and translated by Kim Chong-un and Bruce Fulton, University of Hawaii Press, 1998; and Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology, 1908–1965, edited by Chung Chong-wha.


Munyodo (also see below), 1947.

Hwangt'ogi (also see below), Susonsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1949.

Kwihwan changjong, 1951.

Nongmin sosol sonjip, 1952.

Munhak kaeron, Chongumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1952.

Silchonmu, 1958.

Tungsinbul, 1963.

Chayon kwa insaeng, 1965.

Han'guk tanp'yon munhak sibi myongjakchip, 1967.

Kim Tongni taep 'yojak sonjip (collected works), 1967.

Pawi, 1973.

Pot kwa hamkke yongwon han ilsaeng ul, 1973.

Sasaek kwa insaeng, 1973.

Kkach'i sori, 1973.

Cholmunidul ul wihayo, 1973.

Ch'unch'u, 1975.

Munyodo oe, 1975.

Saban ui sipchaga kit'a, 1976.

Nogum araeso, 1976.

Miltawon sidae oe, 1976.

Nup, Mullisa (Seoul, South Korea), 1977.

Kodok kwa insaeng, 1977.

Kim Tongni Yoksa sosol, 1977.

Kkot i chinun iyagi, 1978.

Unmyong kwa sagwinda, 1978.

Myongsang ui nupka eso, Haengnim Ch'ulp'ansa (Seoul, South Korea), 1980.

Chayu ui yoksa: Pi onun tongsan, Sinhan Ch'ulp'ansa (Seoul, South Korea), 1982.

P'aeraengi kkot, Hyondae Munhaksa (Seoul, South Korea), 1983.

(With Chong Han-suk and Kwak Chong-won) Samguk sidae ui p'yonghwa sasang, [Korea], 1983.

Samguk ui chongnip, Usok (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Kyeryak kwa chonjang, Usok (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Munhak iran muot in'ga, Taehyon Ch'ulp'ansa (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Samgukchi, Usok (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Taeryuk ui pyoltul, Usok (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Ch'unch'uji: Kim Tong-ni changp'yon yoksa sosol, two volumes, Han'guk Yangso (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Yoksa ui sunhwan, Usok (Seoul, South Korea), 1984.

Saenggak i hurunun kangmul, Kabin Ch'ulp'ansa (Seoul, South Korea), 1985.

Pap kwa sarang kwa kurigo yongwon, Sasayon (Seoul, South Korea), 1985.

Khudomnun chisang ui sarang ul kuhayo, Chinhwadang (Seoul, South Korea), 1986.

Chayu ui yoksa, Chungang Ilbosa (Seoul, South Korea), 1987.

Sarang ui saem un kot mada sotko, Sinwon Munhwasa (Seoul, South Korea), 1988.

Munyodo; Hwangt'ogi, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1995.

Yongma; Mildawon sidae, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1995.

Chosung sae; Manja tonggyong, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1995.

Tungsinpul; Kkach'i sori, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1995.

Kim Tong-ni chonjip (collected works), eight volumes, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1995–97.

Na rul ch'ajaso, Minumsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1997.

Kim Tong-ni ka namgin si: yugosi wa taep'yosi, kurigo haesol kwa p'yongnon moum, Munhak Sasangsa (Seoul, South Korea), 1998.

Contributor to books, including TV munhakkwan kolchakson, five volumes, Taehak Munhwasa (Seoul, South Korea), 1983–85

SIDELIGHTS: Kim Tong-ni was a prominent Korean author of novels and short stories that explore conflicts between shamanism and modern religion, Koreans and Japanese, left-wing and right-wing politics, and folklore and traditionalism versus modern sensibilities. Most of all, however, his literature seeks to uncover the underlying essence of what it means to be Korean. Although he was a highly prolific author who published works across the latter half of the twentieth century, only two of his works, Saban ui sipchaga and Ûlhwa, had appeared in English by the time of his death in 1995. Of these two, the latter is the better known, having been translated twice, first as Ûlhwa, the Shaman: A Novel of Korea and Three Stories in 1979, and then as The Shaman Sorceress in 1989.

Both novels deal with the theme of religion. Saban ui sipchaga, which was translated as The Cross of Shaphan, is a story set in biblical times though the extended metaphor concerns Korea. The title character is trying to fight for the freedom of the Israelites; he does so in ways that focus on real-world problems and solutions here on Earth. On the other hand, Jesus emphasizes that it is reward in the afterlife that matters, not what happens in the mundane world. The tone of fatalism that imbues the novel—and that is characteristic of much of Tong-ni's fiction—is evident in the hopelessness of Shaphan's task. His life is made all the more hopeless after his discovery that his love for Mary Magalene is doomed because she is actually his sister.

The Shaman Sorceress is also about religion, but this time the focus is on the tension between traditional and modern Korean ways. The title character, Ûlhwa, is a shaman who believes in spirits and colorful ceremonies, while her son tries to convert her to Christianity. The struggle of beliefs between the two ends tragically in both their deaths.

After publishing numerous novels and short-story collections, in later life Tong-ni focused increasingly on writing literary criticism. However, his fiction will long remain important to Korean literature for addressing important themes of the conflict of cultures and the quest to define the Korean character.



World Literature Today, summer, 1990, Bonnie R. Crown, review of The Shaman Sorceress, p. 535.

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