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Our Twisted Hero Hardcover – February 28, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The newcomer is aghast at the schoolyard cult of personality created by the monitor and refuses to go along with it, resulting in his ostracization. The class monitor doesn't merely intimidate the others with physical force, rather he relies on more subtle approaches, getting subordinates to take action for him, and cultivating a climate of fear. Of course, when the narrator attempts to report the misdeeds of the monitor to the teacher, there is no hard proof, and none of the other children will support his claims. Eventually the narrator finds the psychological isolation too difficult and decides to go along with status quo. This proves to be a very easy and rewarding path as he is made a crony of the monitor, and he finds life under the monitor's rule to be less distasteful than he had expected.Read more ›
The plot: our 12 year old narrator, Han Pyongtae, arrives at his new school in rural Korea. Fresh from big city schools in Seoul, he expects to earn the highest marks and the respect of his peers. Instead, he encounters a classroom bully in the form of Om Sokdae, the tallest of his classmates. Om Sokdae extorts food, candy, and prized possessions from the other children. He has managed this for years, and no longer has to resort to violence to gain what he wants. Om Sokdae holds his classmates in terror. Worse, the teacher will not intervene. His orderly class is to his liking.
_Our Twisted Hero_ is the story of how Han Pyongtae copes with this situation. In such a short book the author has provided a powerful story with a powerful message.
American readers will be fascinated by this glimpse inside Korean society and the Korean school system. But this is not just a Korean story-- Han Pyongtae's story seems universal. His struggle is not only with the bully, but with the perceptions of the other children, feelings of injustice, and the confidence of his parents. Hopefully, teenagers and adults all over the world will find _Our Twisted Hero_ and benefit by it as I have. A marvelous little story.
Beneath it's simple schoolroom setting is a meditation on totalitarianism, and how intellectuals who might oppose it are at least partially brought to heel by it, either through a process of intimidation, or a process of assimilation and ease. Even when they can escape, the process is messy and incomplete.
In some ways it is a fish out of water story with a young protagonist (I say protagonist because he is not the "hero" of the title) moving from Seoul to the countryside and entering a new school there. The protagonist, Han Pyong-Tae is a clever fellow, and sees his new, somewhat bumpkin schoolmates as beneath him. He plans to become student #1. This ascension is blocked, however, by Om Sokdae, a student of extreme power and charisma, little formal intellect, but a rather devious understanding of power and coercion. Om Sokdae rules the classroom through a cult of personality that would be immediately recognizable by Koreans on either side of the 38th parallel.
Om Sokdae's orderly rule is, of course, a representation of Korea under its dictatorial regimes and the idealistic but utterly failed leadership that follows is representative of the early democratic regimes, which could not successfully follow the dictatorships. A hint is also made here that in the new, freer regime, certain ex-subjects will look back with nostalgia on the previous oppressive era.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great for anyone who really wants a personal sense of the cultural issues in South Korea, but did not really wow me. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mars
My first Korean novel. Gave some good insights into Korean culture and politics. The books subtext is about Korea's move from a dictatorship to a democracyPublished 9 months ago by SH
I have good experience with this book.
i like author and story.
I was happy to buy this book on your site.
The setting of this novel is a primary school, but Munyol really has bigger fish to fry. Although a bit heavy-handed at times," Our Twisted Hero" provides a pointed commentary... Read morePublished on November 12, 2010 by Etienne B.
Our Twisted Hero is a great little novella, something that doesn't take long to read but will stay with you for a long time. Read morePublished on October 15, 2010 by Shadow Walker
I bought this book for a high school project years ago and have re-read it countless times. It's not an over the top story but something that everyone can relate with and... Read morePublished on April 28, 2010 by Droogus
I love this book. Yi Munyol is one of my favorite authors and this is a perfect book for someone to have a first introduction to his work. Read morePublished on December 2, 2007 by Neil Wilson
Our Twisted Hero is a fairly short novel written from the view of a small unobtrusive narrator recalling his relative helplessness within transitory reigning ideologies. Read morePublished on September 12, 2007 by Alain Blanc