Human Acts is animated by the death of fifteen-year-old Dong-ho, who finds himself at the centre of the student-led resistance. Rendered in six episodes that begins with Dong-ho in 1980 and ends with the author in 2013, the reader witnesses six characters in the aftermath of the Gwangju Uprising and the effects of their experience and participation as the silence of the event grows in the public sphere. Han positions each of the characters on the line between absence and forgetting, compelled to remember through their precarious proximities to an event that violated hundreds of people’s right to death.
Ryan Chang reviews Human Acts by Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith.