Genre: Adult Fiction (Korean)
I don't encourage murder. I have no interest in one person killing another. I only want to draw out morbid desires, imprisoned deep in the unconscious. This lust, once freed, starts growing. Their imaginations run free, and they soon discover their potential . . . They are waiting for someone like me.
A spectral, nameless narrator haunts the lost and wounded of big-city Seoul, suggesting solace in suicide. Wandering through the bright lights of their high-urban existence, C and K are brothers who fall in love with the same woman--Se-yeon. As their lives intersect, they tear at each other in a struggle to find connection in their fast-paced, atomized world.
I like the idea behind I Have the Right to Destroy Myself, but there were so many scenes in the novel that just made me incredibly uncomfortable, so I can't say I liked the book. Call me a prude, but I don't like explicit sex scenes. Especially when they're super bizarre like they were. My eyes felt violated when I was done.
The nameless first-person narrator searches for his clients (who some would call victims) and seduces them into killing themselves. For a fee, he assists them. When the job's done, he goes on vacations to Europe and writes about his clients. Death, to him, is a form of art. Though a lot of my classmates thought he was an evil serial killer, I thought of him as a dark hero. He puts people out of their misery and genuinely believes he's ending their suffering. I truly enjoyed his character and wish the novel focused solely on him, rather than the characters C and K.
Maybe I think of the narrator as more of a hero than a villain because I felt little sympathy toward his clients. They're all women who have been sexually abused or objectified at some point in their life, which is, of course, a serious matter. I feel bad for them in that sense. But it's the fact that they end up being so damaged and flaky that bothers me. I like down to earth characters, not the crazy "artistic" type that some of them turn out to be.
The novel is more translatable than the other Korean books I've read for my class. You don't have to know about Korean history, politics, or social issues to be able to make a meaningful connection with the book. In fact, there are more references to Western culture, especially Western art. The author begins his novel by describing the painting below, which really sets the tone of the book.
|The Death of Marat|
Overall, I give it two stars. It's an interesting read and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes bizarre, messed up stories. There's not a lot of violence in this novel (disappointing, I know), but you have to be able to stomach weird sex scenes (which I can't).