The most difficult thing about living as a writer is precisely 'having to write.' Pretending to be a writer is easy. Living freely, reading many books, going on frequent trips, cultivating minor eccentricities... but genuinely being a writer is difficult, because you have to write something that will convince both yourself and readers.
Handwritten political posters - often composed in an artless and unadorned style, usually just words on plain white paper - were ubiquitous in South Korea in the 1970s and 1980s and were one of the few outlets available for expressing political views. Most posters were anonymous and put up under the cover of night.
In 2013, Samsung accounted for about 20 percent of South Korea's total business profits. Samsung Electronics, just one of scores of subsidiaries, accounts for close to 15 percent of the total shares in the South Korean stock market. But you don't need to know these figures to get a feel for Samsung's hold on the country.
For all the popularity of spiritual advisers in South Korea, it still shocks to see the leaders of huge public companies relying on fortune-tellers. A shaman may advise a struggling executive to move a building's front entrance, tapping the widespread pungsu belief that your luck depends on the direction of your house.
When I wrote 'Your Republic Is Calling You,' it was Franz Kafka's writing that I had most in mind, and James Joyce's 'Ulysses.' Entirely out of the blue, Kafka's characters receive an order to go somewhere, and when they try to comply, they never quite manage it. Ki-yong in 'Your Republic Is Calling You' is precisely that sort of character.