OWL Magazine Korea

“Black Bow: Wind, Forest, and Choice” by Choi Yunjeong

Living in the bustling modern society, encountering pure literary works is not easy. During middle and high school years, exposure to pure literature works is natural for educational purposes. However, as adults, finding time to engage with pure literary works becomes challenging. At some point, reading novels starts to feel like a “luxury” due to time constraints.

Nevertheless, by chance, one comes across a novel. Titled “Black Bow,” it is a novel set against the backdrop of Korean history.

“A Novel Based on History, Black Bow”

Set against the backdrop of the era when various nations like Goguryeo, Dongye, and Okje existed, the novel can be considered a kind of historical fiction. Of course, the book is not based on actual historical events but merely takes the background, incorporating “fictional characters and places” based on the author’s imagination.

“A Story Centered around the Bow”

True to its title, the novel’s story unfolds around the theme of the “bow.” However, it’s not merely about the bow; it also carries a sense of historical Korean drama, to some extent.

Scenes from actual Korean history, such as Goguryeo temporarily occupying Suanpyeong and facing crisis due to attacks from the Wei Dynasty, are woven into the novel to a certain extent.

However, fundamentally, it is a “novel,” and the story mainly unfolds through the author’s imaginative narrative, giving it a feeling akin to “fantasy fiction.”

“An Ending That Doesn’t Quite Resolve”

The fusion of some actual historical content and the author’s fictional imagination creates a sense of immersion in the work. Events keep unfolding, and situations that seem on the verge of resolution continue to linger ambiguously.

The fast-paced progression, filled with thrilling situations, can be seen as a positive aspect of the work.

However, what leaves a lingering dissatisfaction is the feeling that the story doesn’t quite end as expected. Just when readers are eagerly anticipating how the characters in the story will resolve the situation, the story ends without any resolution, leaving a sense of emptiness.

In that regard, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.”

Whether the author intended this ambiguous open-ended conclusion is uncertain, but personally, it’s not particularly preferred. As readers eagerly anticipate how the characters in the story will resolve the situation, there’s nothing more disappointing than the story ending without any resolution. However, an abrupt “Deus Ex Machina” resolution where an outside force suddenly resolves all the events is also not desirable.

Ultimately, a crucial element of the novel is resolving the events introduced by the author while maintaining a sense of urgency that readers can accept. In this book, that aspect fell a bit short.

Nevertheless, despite that, the novel has a strong power to stimulate the reader’s imaginative faculties.

“Black Bow: Wind, Forest, and Choice”

  • Author: Choi Yunjeong
  • Publication Date: August 14, 2015
  • ISBN: 9791155856871
  • Available at Kyobo Bookstore: http://app.ac/R3P2b6J63