<W commentary> Voices of mourning in Korea for Mr. Kenzaburo Oe = Talking about historical issues between Japan and Korea during his lifetime
It was reported in South Korea that Kenzaburo Oe, a writer and Nobel Prize winner in literature, passed away at the age of 88 on the 3rd of this month. During his lifetime, Oe had close ties with South Korea, such as helping Kim Ji-ha, a poet who was imprisoned for publishing a poem criticizing the government in 1970.

Oe was born in Ehime prefecture in 1935. In 1954, he entered the University of Tokyo and studied French literature. Debuted in the literary world with the short story "Strange Job" while still in school. In 1957, he released "The Luxury of the Dead." In 1958, he won the Akutagawa Prize for his short story, "Breeding," which depicts a young boy growing up after being involved with a black soldier who wandered into a mountain village during the war. After that, he continued to release radical works on the themes of sex and politics, and came into the spotlight.

In 1959, he graduated from the University of Tokyo, and in 1960, he participated in the protest against the security treaty. "Seventeen" and "Political Boy Dies" published in 1961 were controversial stories about a boy who recalled the murder of Inejiro Asanuma, chairman of the Socialist Party.

The birth of his eldest son, Hikaru, with an intellectual disability in 1963 was a turning point for Oe. The following year, he published the feature-length "Personal Experience", which delved into his inner self. Since then, Mr. Hikaru's presence has become a major theme that underlies many of his works.

In 1967, he released his representative work "Football for the former Mannobe". A group of men who had been frustrated by the 1960 Security Treaty struggle returned to a valley village in Shikoku and caused a riot that traced past peasant uprisings, and won the Junichiro Tanizaki Prize. In 1983, he won the Osaragi Jiro Award for his first work on a family.

In 1994, he became the second Japanese to win the Nobel Prize for Literature after Yasunari Kawabata. He gave a lecture titled "Ambiguous Japanese Me," in contrast to Kawabata's speech, "The Beautiful Japanese Me," and spoke of his earnest desire for peace.

In addition, as "late work", an old writer who projected himself is the main character, "Changeling" and "Goodbye, my book!" Since 2018, he has published the culmination of "Kenzaburo Oe novels'' (15 volumes in total).

He continued to be an 'acting writer' even in his speech activities. Against the background of the Cold War and the era in which nuclear weapons threatened the world, he wrote "Hiroshima Notes" and "Okinawa Notes" and actively advocated peace and anti-nuclear. He formed the 'Kujo no Kai' with Shuichi Kato, a critic of the Constitutional Protection Movement. Immediately after the Nobel Prize was awarded, he withdrew from the Order of Cultural Merit, saying, "Post-war democracy and the Order of Cultural Merit (given by the government) don't go well together." After the Great East Japan Earthquake, he advocated for a phase-out of nuclear power plants and led a rally of tens of thousands of people.

The Korean media also praised Oe's achievements during his lifetime while telling that he was passed away. The Dong-A Ilbo pointed out that Oe mentioned Japan's invasion of Asia in his speech at the Nobel Prize in Literature award ceremony. In 1995, at a symposium titled "50 Years of Liberation and 50 Years of Defeat" held by the Dong-A Ilbo, he spoke with the poet Kim Jihae, saying, "After losing the war, Japan apologized to the Koreans for a new life. I had to pay for the crimes of , but I couldn't," he said. The JoongAng Ilbo, citing Oe's remarks at a forum held at Yonsei University in South Korea in 2015, said that Oe said, "The Japanese government must actively apologize to South Korea regarding the comfort women issue. I urged you," he introduced. In addition, when Kim was imprisoned in the 1970s for resisting the Yushin government, he said, "I once attracted the attention of the South Korean media by campaigning for his release." Yonhap News said, "He also maintained his remarks with conviction on historical issues between South Korea and Japan. During his visit to South Korea in 2015, Japan committed a serious crime against South Korea, but has not apologized sufficiently to South Koreans. criticized," he introduced.

In response to Mr. Oe's passing away, large-scale Korean bookstore Kyobo Bunko and Internet bookstore Aladdin set up a memorial page on their websites on the 14th. He introduced representative works such as "Football" and "Personal Experience".

Hyundai Bungaku, the South Korean publisher that published Oe's collection of short stories, posted on Facebook, "A refugee who has constantly asked himself about the ethical attitude of writers living in the times, emphasizes the salvation and coexistence of mankind based on his personal experience. I pray for the repose of the soul of Kenzaburo Oe, a world-famous writer who lost his life," he posted a memorial message.
2023/03/22 13:14 KST