Seo Gi-won, who made his debut as a writer in 1956, is categorized as a post-war new-generation novelist. Yet, different from his contemporary post-war authors, he has been assessed that he intended to observe and recognize space and Sachlichkeit(卽物) sincerely. When one sincerely observes real space and Sachlichkeit in the overwhelming ruins of the war, where it will lead one to? This paper aims at finding an answer of this question through the specific aspects of the life of the young people in Seo Gi-won’s early novels, that is, the youth’s solidarity, relationship with fathers and the main young characters’ desire ‘to become fathers’.
‘The absence of a father’ and solidarity among the young are often found in the modern and contemporary literature. However, the community formed by the young men in Seo Gi-won’s novel is unique in that it is based on passive commonness rather than on an active sense of solidarity. This community is grounded on the commonness as abandoned beings prior to any beliefs or genders. The male youth as deserted beings dream about love with females and ‘a normal family’. However, to them, love is not the discovery and acceptance of otherness, but a normative behavior to generate social relationships they have not had. Therefore, the community they have formed also collapses easily. The community of the youth in Seo Gi-won’s novel depicts no friendship or love, but rather the empty reality where all of them are absent.
All the young people in the novel dreaming of love with females and a normal family hope to become fathers. Yet, in the work, it is difficult to find their fathers. Specific aspects of their fathers are not highlighted, and they are not strongly denied or affirmed. Instead of investigating into their absent fathers, the young men overlap themselves and their fathers’ symbols. They easily approve their fathers just because they resemble them, and settle their relationship with their fathers. The problem is that the fact that their fathers are someone who look like them does not guarantee to reveal their truth. They conclude their relationship with their fathers without working hard, such as rationalization of intense denial or affirmation, but as a result, their fathers still remain incomprehensible.
At a glance, these young men seem to be able to achieve an ordinary life without difficulties. However, they can never obtain what they want easily. Even though they force themselves to restore their relationship with their fathers, they do not know what their fathers were like. Although they expect love with women and their own babies, they only come to face unfamiliar women and children without or not knowing their fathers, which they cannot understand with their gender sensitivity. The desire of the young men in Seo Gi-won’s novel to become a father is a kind of ‘fort-da’ game. According to Zizek’s interpretation, these young men’s desire is the overwhelming anxiety about the existence of fathers. They repeat the dilemma of failing to find a fixed father, but being unable to leave nor being with a father. They long to become a father, yet, at the same time, do not want to be a father. This paradoxical desire shows that a father is anxiety making one uncomfortable limitlessly, and that one cannot break free from it whether through a behavior to deny it or affirm it. That is, the morals of Seo Gi-won’s early novels do not lie in their hope to take responsibility for women or become a father, and therefore, to recover so-called healthy identity as men. The exposure of the instability in the desire circuit stuck between the desire to become a father and that not to become one, this outlook that seems somewhat gloomy, is the very limit and simultaneously ethics of Seo Gi-won’s early novels.