This essay is intended to introduce the reader to Ŭnsegye [A silvery world], a remarkable novel by Yi Injik that deserves more attention than it has received, and at the same time to illustrate, in terms of this novel, Yi's strengths and weaknesses as a novelist. Although not formally divided into two parts, Ŭnsegye consists of two halves, each distinct in style and theme. The tragic story of Ch'oe Pyŏngdo, a victim of the corrupt officials of the Yi dynasty, comprises the first two-thirds of the novel. This portion of the novel successfully portrays the hopeless and unavailing struggle of one good man against a vicious and corrupt provincial governor. The last third of the novel, dealing with the education of Ch'oe Pyŏngdo's children in the U.S. and their return to Korea in 1907, lacks drama or credibility. This is because its ostensible theme—the need to have young Koreans educated abroad—is introduced through a series of didactic exhortations with no real narrative development. This blend of novelistic success and failure exemplified in the two parts of Ŭnsegye is typical of Yi Injik's whole novelistic output.


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pp. 63-77
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