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At Least We Can Apologize (Library of Korean…

At Least We Can Apologize (Library of Korean Literature)

by Lee Ki-ho

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It's great that the Dalkey Archive press has put out some translations of Korean literature, as it's a literary sphere I haven't had any exposure to previously. Although this one didn't particularly impress me I found it intriguing enough that I might try another of the translated works down the road.

At Least We Can Apologize follows two young men, recently released from an abusive mental institution, who attempt to use the lessons beaten into them in that terrible place to make a living in the outside world. The two characters are strangely innocent, obediently following the orders of others and their own rules for the world without question. From their perspective everyone in the world has committed acts that merit an apology, but the responsibility for that apology, and thus the punishment that apology deserves, can be transferred to others. No one is free from wrongdoing to the pair, but they offer their services in an attempt to help absolve people of their guilt.

Is the book talking about original sin? Though Christian references appear with some frequency in the text, the only concept of Christian sin that would work with the text is a warped one outside of any religious understanding of the idea. Instead I thought this work was dealing with a more secular, social conception of sin, a type caused by humanity's inevitably self-centered existence. Or hey, maybe it's just the world seen through the eyes of a mad man. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
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"This story focuses on an agency whose only purpose is to offer apologies - for a fee - on behalf of its clients. This seemingly insignificant service leads us into an examination of sin, guilt, and the often irrational demands of society. A kaleidoscope of minor nuisances and major grievances, this novel heralds a new comic voice in Korean letters."--Back cover.… (more)

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