The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] Aching first love in revamped coming-of-age novel 'Elsa's Ha-in'

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : May 11, 2024 - 09:31

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"Elsa's Ha-in" by Kang Ji-young (Jaeum & Moeum Publishing)

"Elsa's Ha-in"

By Kang Ji-young

Jaeum & Moeum Publishing

Author Kang Ji-young, best known for the novel "A Shop for Killers," which has been adapted into a Disney+ drama series of the same title starring Lee Dong-wook, revised and rewrote the ending of her 2013 coming-of-age novel "Elsa's Ha-in."

"It was completely unplanned. After receiving a revision suggestion, I slowly reread the manuscript, and suddenly something came to mind, so I just wrote it," she said in the author's note.

The story unfolds in a rural village of Paju, Gyeonggi Province, where a naive 12-year-old boy called Ha-in lives with his family. His mother works as a plumber, his father manages the household and enjoys knitting, and his grandmother grapples with dementia.

But when a peculiar mother and daughter enter the boy's neighborhood, the village is abuzz.

Stella, the mother, begins working at a downtown bar, while her daughter Elsa, who is the same age as Ha-in, steals his heart at first sight with her piercing blue eyes.

The local men smitten with Stella are overly kind but rumors of hostility swirl in their wake. Ha-in also thinks Elsa might indeed be a witch because when other kids make fun of Elsa, she seems to cast spells on them -- they find themselves with broken arms or falling into the water.

The narrative explores the aching experience of first love and adolescence, about a boy and a girl growing up and parting ways as they gradually discover each other's secrets.