A Successful Literary Cadre
This chapter examines the life and activity of Yi Ki-yŏng (1895–1984) within the political context of his era. Yi Ki-yŏng burst into the North Korean literary scene in 1945 as a well-known writer in the Korean Proletarian Art Federation (KAPF) and later came to be revered as the “founding father of Korean proletarian literature.” His pre-1945 works were continually republished and celebrated as the earliest example of socialist realism in Korean literature. This chapter first provides a background on Yi's early life before turning to his literary career. It then considers Yi's writings and their apparent support for agrarianism, or “agrarian nationalism,” along with his ouvre pre-KAPF and during the first and second KAPF periods (1925–1927 and 1927–1934). It also analyzes Yi's two novels, Homeland (1933–1934) and Land (Ttang; 1948–1949), along with his literary activities after Liberation. The chapter concludes with an assessment of Yi's legacy.
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