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EVERLASTING EMPIRE:
A Novel
Yi In-hwa


Translated by Yu Young-nan

Introduction by Don Baker, University of British Columbia

Winner of the 2002 Daesan Foundation Prize for Outstanding Literary Translation!

“Beautifully written and riveting.... Aside from being a thrilling mystery story, Everlasting Empire provides non-Korean readers with a glimpse into Korea’s past. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to brush up on their knowledge of Korean history or curl up with a good mystery book on a cold winter day”
Korea Times

“...the blur and exchange between dichotomies such as dreams and reality, fiction and history, knowledge and ignorance, truth and falsehood, past and present, existence and nonexistence, and, ultimately, what is mutable and immutable is what makes Yi’s storytelling so compelling.... Having read both the English translation and Korean original, I was surprised to find the translation—for which Ms. Yu won the Daesan Foundation prize—more accessible.”
International Herald Tribune

Everlasting Empire (Yongwonhan chekuk) is a Korean historical novel written as a murder mystery. The narrator frames the main story with his “discovery” of a 150-year-old manuscript. Because of problems verifying the authenticity of the manuscript, the narrator offers the book not as genuine history but as a story. This compelling tale is set at a pivotal moment in Korean history, when the nation’s last strong king was attempting to consolidate the authority of the monarchy against the dangerous encumbrance of bureaucratic factional infighting and when Western ideas were beginning to infiltrate Korea. It is an absorbing account of life at a Confucian court. The original Korean edition (1993) was a bestseller in Korea, selling more than one million copies. In was published in French translation (2000) and was made into a feature length film which collected six prestigious Grand Bell Awards.

"[Yi In-hwa] has achieved a goal that eludes most authors of historical fiction: He has created a tale so plausible that it can almost pass for the work of a historian rather than a novelist. Even though the events that form the core of his novel did not actually take place — they could have. This novel [is] more than just a riveting work of fiction … it also … opens a window into the turbulent world of Chosen dynasty politics, in which political disagreements often had deadly consequences.

“. . . Yi In-hwa has captured the rivalries, cruelty, and treachery on Chongjo’s Seoul with a vividness equaled by few historical records or even historians’ reconstructions. If one of the goals of the study of history is, and I believe it is, to open doors into the past so that we step back in time and experience the world of our predecessors on this planet, Everlasting Empire is an effective door opener. I recommend it to anyone who wants to experience political intrigue on the Korean peninsula two centuries ago.”
from the Introduction by Don Baker

Yi In-hwa is the pen name of You Chul-gun, a professor of Korean Language and Literature at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. He received the first Writers’ World Literature Award for his novel Who Can Say What I Am? in 1992. He is also the recipient of the Korean government’s 1995 Today’s Young Artist Award and the Chinese government’s first Korea-China Youth scholarship award. In 2000, Yi received the prestigious Yi Sang award for his short story “A Poet’s Star.”

Yu Young-nan has translated several Korean works into English, including The Naked Tree, by Pak Wan-so. Her translations of Yi Mu-yong’s “Lesson One, Chapter One” and Farmers received the Korean Modern Literature Translation Award.

EastBridge Signature Books 2002 264 pp. glossary, chronology


ISBN 1-891936-02-6 (pb) $29.95
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ISBN 1-891936-15-8 (hb) $49.95
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