By Kim Yu-jeong
(Jimoondang, 5,000 won)
Revealing author Kim Yu-jeong’s mastery of colloquial dialect and his commanding insight into the charms of peasants, “The Camellias” tells a humorous tale of two young souls living in the countryside in the 1930s.
The protagonist, a naïve young boy from a peasant family, does not like it when his rooster gets into fights with Jeom-soon’s rooster.
Jeom-soon, young daughter of the tenant farms’ manager, once handed him a piece of steamed potato. Not having a clue what her intention was, he refused to take the potato. He was totally puzzled when Jeom-soon burst into tears as he pushed her hand and the potato away.
Since then, Jeom-soon has encouraged her rooster to attack the boy's. Not understanding why Jeom-soon bugs him so much, he gets angry after seeing his own rooster bleeding and kills Jeom-soon’s rooster.
The ending is rather comical, as Jeom-soon forcefully hugs him and the two fall on the ground where a bunch of camellias is blooming. The boy finally gets what Jeom-soon’s intention has been, mesmerized by the smell of the flowers as well as Jeom-soon.
Born in 1908 in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, Kim concentrated on writing about simple peasant life with his distinctive sense of humor. His characters ― mostly peasants ― have simple and blunt personalities with caring hearts, reflecting Kim’s own upbringing in the countryside.