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[New in Korean] On struggles of caregiving and family burdens

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : June 10, 2023 - 16:01

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"The Way We Have Passed the Winter" by Moon Mi-soon (Namu Bench)

"The Way We Have Passed the Winter" (working title)

By Moon Mi-soon

Namu Bench

The first full-length novel from the award-winning writer Moon Mi-soon captures the challenges of caregiving and the burdens of tending to sick loved ones. The novel vividly portrays the mental, physical and economic hardships faced by families in this role.

The narrative revolves around Myung-joo, a woman in her 50s who dedicates herself to caring for her mother, who suffers from severe dementia. Joon-seong, a young man in his 20s, who takes on the role of caregiver for his sick father.

The story opens with Myung-joo moving into a rented apartment to live with her mother. Having gone through a divorce and struggling with temporary jobs, she faces the setback of a foot injury that prevents her from finding employment. Their only means of support is her mother’s pension. When her mother suddenly passes away, a change of heart leads her to conceal her mother’s body.

The novel delves deep into heavy themes and the experiences of financially strained families, while also striking a delicate balance with elements of suspense and thriller. Myung-joo's daily life becomes a tense affair as she weaves a web of lies about her mother's absence. The plot also takes a turn into a search for human solidarity and warmth.

The author said she decided to write a novel on the weight of responsibility that fell upon her while she cared for her husband who suffered a stroke during the pandemic. The book sheds light on the significant issue of family collapse and disintegration resulting from prolonged caregiving.