Kim Dong Hwa — Color Trilogy

Kim Dong Hwa Color TrilogyI have never been to Korea, although I and my son, Eli, have had some brief warm friendships with the Korean families whose children went to his elementary.  I didn’t live in the 19th century in a rural village either.  But, reading these three books I feel I hvae been there.  learned the lives of the place and particularly become close to Ehwa a young girl, who lives alone with her mother, who I don’t think is named, and becomes a teenager as the trilogy moves along.  This is manhwa (Korean manga).  Kim, a man, was known before this for writing sunjung (comics for girls), and he bring to life the worlds of these two women.  There is old fashioned poetry of flowers and butterflies that acts music in the background of the story.  Sometimes it just creates atmosphere, sometimes it is specific metaphor about love and marriage and sex.  There are also breathtaking two-page spreads of the landscape around Namwon, the village itself and some of the plants and animals of the area.  Then the story becomes almost harshly realistic.  The language used by the male customers at Ehwa’s mother’s tavern is crude.  The scenes where a young monk–the first love of Ehwa’s life–has his first wet dream or when Ehwa gets her first period are matter of fact.  Take a trip back in time and live in a village far away in space (unless you are reading this in Korea) and time (unless you are reading this 120 years ago).  the publisher’s tag line for the series is “A sweeping trilogy of first love and second chances.”  This was my first chance to experience these lives, and I am grateful for Kim’s artistry.

Kim Dong Hwa


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