And now for something different, very, very different:
The Photograph of Hye Mi Bae is a mash-up of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and a story I’ve concocted myself about a Korean photographer and his treacherous model friend (scroll to bottom for official description). I’ve lived in South Korea for the last decade and as anyone who has spent time in the country knows, it is an intense place. For better or worse–sometimes better, sometimes worse. Whereas my work on the shamanism of Jeju Island explores the deep spirituality of the country’s elder generation, The Photogrpah of Hye Mi Bae is an investigation into the world of the generations born after the Japanese occupation, particular the country’s ambitious but spurned millennials, who have in the words of a researcher friend, lost any and all sense of the spiritual. The same generation has taken to calling their own country what roughly translates to ‘Hell Korea’. Many of the conversations in The Photograph of Hye Mi Bae are ‘found’ conversations, pieced together from bits that I have heard over the years or from conversations I have participated in myself with local friends and students. Oscar Wilde’s 19th Century Dorian is a novel of ideas, the protagonist an aesthete and hedonist living a double life, the thrill of which is intensified by the strict social constraints of Victorian England. Hye Mi Bae, the Dorian of my mash-up, is not so much aesthete though she may pose as one for her own material gain, and not so much hedonist–Hye Mi, who has made a sort of faustian deal with the devil to stay forever young while her hidden, dark soul corrodes, is engaged in the business of becoming what she calls ‘a master of people’. Her poison is power and influence. Her curse is narcissism but as she well knows, this crutch is also her deadliest tool. Hye Mi believes there are only two types of people in the world, subjects and masters, and only the latter realizes this fact.
The Photograph of Hye Mi Bae is available on Amazon for Kindle and also as an e-book for the site’s downloadable e-reader. The Photograph of Hye Mi Bae is FREE all day Monday, March 5th, Pacific U.S. time.
Please download, and if you please, share on social media or with a friend. If you miss the free day and want to support my research and art by purchasing a copy, please do so and leave me a note in the comments.
Amazon link below (scroll down for official book description):
Description from Amazon:
Celebrated photographer, Jung Soon Kim, is intent on taking a perfect portrait. He’s also in love with his model, Hye Mi Bae, the most beautiful girl at one of South Korea’s most prestigious universities. One day is his studio, he finally achieves the sought after shot. Shook with the terror of her own mortality, Hye Mi Bae realizes that she will always grow older while her likeness, the image on the photograph, never will. She passionately declares that she would like to trade places with Jung Soon’s masterpiece that will always stay young and trapped in time. Magically, her wish comes true. Hye Mi Bae, once innocent and demure, becomes drunk with power as the gift of immortality coupled with lessons in usury from her mentor, Mrs. Park, takes over her life. This is the beginning of a murderous, decades-long exercise in manipulation.
A fairytale of cruelty. South Korea’s young, self-loathing generation comes alive in this mash-up of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. This time around Dorian is a young woman, Hye Mi Bae, who possesses all that is desired. She has the looks, the money, the career, and a bright future ahead. While many of her generation live mundane lives of needless struggle, the ambitious Hye Mi Bae endeavors to become a master of individuals, not a subject like so many who make up the masses.
Seamlessly integrated into Wilde’s original work, The Photograph of Hye Mi Bae will both enchant and provoke. Wilde’s Dorian is given to the reader reanimated as the anti-heroine. The tale of what would be a perfect life, wrecked. As much social commentary on a place distant for most Westerners, as thriller. An examination of the sentiment that erupted after the county’s recent presidential scandal, that brought millions of South Koreans into the streets.