Shim Yoon-Gyeong

Altar of the Moon

Munidang Publishing, 282 pages.
Shim is the winner of the Annual Muyeong Prize for Literature (2007) and the Hangyore Prize for Literature., 2002. English partial translation available.

 

Altar of the Moon, Shim’s second novel, she focuses on the rarified world of the traditional families which can trace their roots back through a straight line of first-born sons to the central houses of ancient and illustrious clans. The ancient traditions to which these families continue to adhere while the rest of society has seemingly moved on are the legacy and model of the Confucian ideology of male dominance. Shim shows in Altar of the Moon how the fundamental root of the difficulties and tragedies experienced by a contemporary family lies in ancient paternalistic beliefs and ignorance, and takes the reader inside the almost classical world of life inside one of those ancient houses, where everything is infused through-and-through with a deep reverence for the past. Alongside the contemporary story of a tragedy which befalls that family, Shim shows, through letters between a granddaughter and a grandmother written in imitation of the style of women’s letters of the historical Joseon period, how the ordeals suffered by women in that period of Korean history are repeated in the lives of contemporary women.