Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Winter in Sokcho

Elisa Shua Dusapin

I found this a quietly intense read. The cold, bleak realism of the out of season seaside town on the border of North and South Korea is the perfect setting for a disquieting exploration of identity. The young woman at the centre fights to see and be seen, working through the opposing pressures of modern and traditional societies; French and Korean culture; body image and desire. Beautiful, disturbing and very real.


I walked on, past display of fish tanks. Two tanks stacked one on top of the other. Long tailed fish in the lower one. In the top one, crabs piled up as if ready to be tinned. Jiggling passively in the jet stream, too weak to gouge out their neighbours' eyes .... At the other end of the street, the hotel modelled on an Indian palace,pink and golden. Two girls in the doorway, displaying their curves. Leather shorts, ripped tights.

Oozing winter and fish, Sokcho waited.

That was Sokcho, always waiting, for tourists, baots, men, spring.

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