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  1. Magazine

Vol.48 Summer 2020

Remember What thePandemic Showed Us

A few months ago, when the COVID-19 outbreak was still in its preliminary stages, webelieved that things would return to normal and our lives could resume after a brief period.As if mocking our arrogant belief, however, the virus has now morphed into a globalpandemic on a scale unprecedented in our history and shows no signs of receding.Although still trapped in the eye of the storm, we are attempting to return to asemblance of normalcy. Unfortunately for us, however, experts are cautiously pointing outthat we might never be able to declare an end to COVID-19, but rather, that a life withCOVID-19 might become the new normal.The long history of infectious diseases informs us that they are blind to hierarchies ofclass, gender, race, region, and sexual preference. They cut across our fixed, routine livesthat are largely driven by habit and patterns and not by conscious thinking. They bringforth the faces of people we’ve forgotten, people we don’t even know we’ve forgotten,people we’ve pushed outside the periphery of our thoughts and shoved into dark, hiddenrecesses. They remind us of the structure of violence that is perpetrated under the guise offorgetting. The Special Section in this issue explores the theme of rooms or homes, spaces that areconsidered universal refuges and which guarantee our privacy, and wonders who and whathas been left behind in our reflections regarding them. In doing so, it reminds us of faceswe’d rather forget and brings to light the places they call “home.”In the Featured Writer section, we meet Lim Chulwoo, who often writes about darkperiods in contemporary Korean history and explores how state-sponsored violencedestroys the lives of individuals and communities; and Chung Serang, who chooses to keepcomplicated themes complicated rather than simplifying them and who dreams of a betterworld in the best, most fun way imaginable. With these two authors, we confront the facesas well as the entire worlds we’ve forgotten, or worse, those we don’t even realize we’veforgotten.There are numerous incidents of hate speech surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,but these vicious rumors have nothing to do with the virus. It all comes down to people.What the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore are those very same people we’drather forget, the same people we didn’t even know we’d forgotten. What this crisis hasshown is that it has always been literature’s rightful duty to be with the forgotten ones. Ittook a pandemic to remind us of that.

So Young-Hyun
Literary Critic
Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim
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