Playing With Fire And The Rainy Spell: Korean Ideology

1403 words - 6 pages

Identity is how someone distinguishes oneself from others. Over time, several factors can affect how one identifies oneself, including one’s family and the people one associates with. Identity is essential because it shapes the way people make decisions and how they associate with other people. The mental and physical components of one’s identity are malleable by altering ideology and persuasion. The shifts in ideology throughout the generations and in influence of beliefs and perspectives of Bae Jomsu and Hyongmin portrayed in Playing with Fire and of the entire household in The Rainy Spell exemplify the complex desire for revenge and complicated attempt of reconciliation of a divided Korea.
The shift in ideologies of the characters throughout the generations can account for the differing desires for revenge and reconciliation. Bae Jomsu and Shin Byongmo’s wife were a part of the same generation, witnessing the war first-hand and having a deeper connection with the atrocities associated with the war. Bae Jomsu sought to seek revenge for the situation of his family, who were serfs under the control of the Shin clan. The desire for revenge that resulted from an intense war grew to become increasingly personal. Bae Jomsu was, at least in his perspective, fighting for his family and for his freedom. On the other hand, Shin Byongmo’s wife did not physically go out to seek revenge for her husband’s death and for her sexual assault at the hands of the Bae Jomsu. She kept that desire in her heart throughout her life until she was on her deathbed and instructed her son to find her husband’s murderer and exact revenge. The main characters of Playing with Fire represent the generation that witnessed the atrocities of war. However, a shift in ideology occurred as the next generation took the spotlight and was no longer attached to the Korean War. Hyongmin, Bae Jomsu’s son claimed, “he knew nothing about the Communist invasion except what he had read in books, seen in exhibitions of photographers or heard from his elders (Chong-Rae 46).” Since the next generation did not witness the war first-hand they did not see a need to be hungry for revenge, as some of their predecessors did. When Shin Byongmo’s wife was revealing the secret of her husband’s murderer to her son, her son was skeptical as to whether it was necessary to bring up old memories and seek revenge for something that happened in the past. The switch in generations throughout the novel resembles the switch in ideology that accompanies memories of the war. Whereas the older generation attempts to seek revenge for the death of their families, the newer generation attempts to reconcile with the enemy. In The Rainy Spell, Maternal Grandmother’s actions are driven by the death of her son, and she increasingly becomes more secluded and only talks to her young grandson. The significance of the shelling of the peas is to show the atonement of Maternal Grandmother for calling Paternal Uncle a Communist...

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