“Song of Ariran”

Kim San aka Jang Ji-Rak : 김산/장지락

Kim San aka Jang Ji-Rak : 김산/장지락

Currently reading “Song of Ariran,” the incredible memoir of Kim San (AKA Jang Ji-Rak 장지락), a Korean Communist who fought in the Chinese Revolution. This is one of the most intimate detailings of Korean nationalist political and revolutionary struggle during Japanese occupation. Kim was there to witness the horrific brutality of the Japanese regime in his homeland as well as to be a part of history unfolding in China – the land of Korean exiles, meeting many of the key thinkers and players in what was then Korea’s Provisional Government in Shanghai and also those who laid the foundation for the Korean Communists – including an account of how Lenin lent 500,000 roubles for the formation of the first Korean Communist party (300,000 of which was stolen en route from Russia to Mongolia). I have just begun the book, but already it has provided such an incredibly fascinating and lucid account of how ideological factions between nationalist groups formed during the Korean independence movement. The seeds of national division and its global context can be clearly and intimately understood here.

Nym Wales

Nym Wales

Kim told his story to American journalist Nym Wales (AKA Helen Foster Snow), who published this book in 1941. There has been another edition published in the ’70′s, but the English language version is now out of print – I believe the Korean language version is available. I have also read that this book had been banned in South Korea – though not surprising, still need to find verification for this. In any case, an important book and captivating read.

a very early English language version. i like it for its kitsch value.

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12 2009

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