The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] 21st century Faust 'Mundus,' inspired by disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Aug. 5, 2023 - 19:00

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"Mundus" by Kim Jong-young (Galmuri Publisher)


By Kim Jong-young

Galmuri Publisher

The Hwang Woo-suk scandal in 2005 plunged the entire nation into shock and confusion. The promising scientist claimed an epic scientific breakthrough by successfully cloning human embryos. However, after a series of controversies, it became apparent that his revolutionary research had been manipulated.

Kim Jong-young, a sociology professor at Kyung Hee University, created a 21st-century Faust inspired by the disgraced scientist, who was once hailed as a national hero.

While Goethe's "Faust" involved a deal between Faust and the devil for his soul, the novel portrays another contemporary Faust who sells his soul and conscience for his success.

The story begins with a journalist who spends several years investigating stem cell manipulation, raising allegations of research fraud against Dr. Kwon Min-joong, a national hero.

The narrative unfolds on a vast scale, spanning Seoul, Jerusalem, the Rocky Mountains and Auschwitz, exploring the contradictions, desires and frustrations of human beings.

The title of the novel, "Mundus" means world, universe or sky in Latin. Kim said it symbolizes the greatest technology or the most important thing in this world.

"Mundus also signifies the desire for eternal life, and the desire to possess everything in the world,” said Kim.

The novel combines various genres of thriller, science fiction and social criticism incorporating inspirations from real-life incidents. It also addresses the issues of international authorities with power, fundamental problems in science and technology as well as the exploitation of women's bodies.