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The present tense of verbs predominates in narrative passages in the modern Korean novel. This phenomenon cannot be dismissed as coincidental or explained on the basis of individual idiosyncrasies. It should be understood in the larger context of cultural and social change in Korea during the last century. The break-down of the old order has left the novelist with a highly fragmented sense of time and an awareness of constant change in life. He must describe human experience as best he can without the assistance of a more integrative temporal framework. If we look at the traditional narrative that existed before the advent of the novel, we note that it has its own way of integrating experience through rhetorical devices or on the basis of a mythic past. However, such devices cannot be used in a novel intended to portray contemporary life in a realistic way. A new sense of time must evolve from an endless succession of present moments and an overwhelming confusion of sense impressions. The novel will have matured when it has evolved this new sense of time.