From his debut novel “Lonely Tomb”, written in 1979 at the age of 25, to the first collection of short stories “The Death of Mary” in 1989, Woo Gwanghun’s early works demonstrate a certain tendency. It is the opposite structure of “purity” / “impurity” or “nature” / “socialization(political)”.
Since the reform and opening-up of China and the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and China, Woo Gwanghun’s works have shown significant changes in both themes and literary techniques, and there is no strong “purity” / “impurity” opposition structure. After such creative work activities, in 2015, he released Self-restraint and Propriety Restoration. This novel, like hazy homesickness, featured the tendencies of his earlier works and dug into it more specifically and delicately Behind the apparent narrative of Self-restraint and Propriety Restoration, an increase in the oppression given to Geuk Seongi or the increasing anger of Geuk Seongi exists. Many occasional expressed emotions of Geuk Seongi represent all manifestations of the core that cannot be hidden. And the narrative of this expression gradually gathers anger, eventually exposing the heart of anger. In the scene throwing the portrait of Chairman Mao, Geuk Seongi is angry at the realities surrounding thoughts and concepts. More than that, in a callous society where the memory of frail people got eradicated, the novel still hopes to keep and advocate ‘memory-respect humanitarianism’. Self-restraint and Propriety Restoration does not concern instantly noticeable loss, but radical deprivation causes deprivation. It demands respect for human beings at the fundamental level. Therefore, compared with his prior works, humanitarianism is more deeply manifested in Self-restraint and Propriety Restoration.
Through the description of affectionate things, the colloquial expressions, and the recalling frame, the novel Self-restraint and Propriety Restoration advocates that ‘purity’ is placed in ‘the hometown of human nature’. To the interlocutors, ‘hometown’ is the ‘inherent hometown of human beings’ and the place where the nostalgia of purity evokes. By indicating the specific residence of ‘purity’, the novel has revealed a deeper layer of ‘purity’ than before as well as exposed ‘restoration-to-purity humanitarianism’.