CATHY ROSE A. GARCIA 04/27/2007 | 10:48 PM
SEOUL - Ermita
, a novel by multi-award winning Filipino author and National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose
, has been published in Korean.
Jose arrived in Seoul
on Tuesday to promote his novel, which has been translated by Hee-ryung Boo and published by Asia
On Wednesday evening, Jose and his wife Teresa met with Korean reporters at a traditional Korean restaurant
in Insadong, downtown Seoul.
Jose talked at length about Ermita
, a novel about a prostitute named Ermita Rojos,
whose mother was a Filipino woman raped by a Japanese soldier during the Japanese occupation.
"This novel is more
of a metaphor about the prostitution of Filipinos
and the decay of our society.
The story has a universal theme because all over the world many people are prostitutes without knowing it," he said.
journalists expressed keen interest in Jose’s views, especially since it is rare that a Filipino author’s works
are translated in Korean.
Jose said he saw some parallels between the history of Philippines
and Korea, since both experienced colonization. The Philippines was colonized by Spain, the United States and Japan
, while Korea
was colonized by Japan.
(Korea) were colonized some 50 years by the Japanese, while we were colonized by the Japanese for only 3 years. Sometimes
I wish that it were the Japanese who colonized us not the Americans. Because you have no hangover with Japanese colonization,
you vowed to defeat Japan. We have a very strong hangover with American colonialism
We never vowed to defeat the United States. Much of contemporary development, particularly in the colonized country depends
so much on the response of the colonized to the colonizers. All this is in this novel 'Ermita
he said, giving international journalists a glimpse of history.
Jose also expressed admiration for the late Korean
dictator President Chung-hee Park for modernizing Korea. This raised a few eyebrows, especially since Jose’s novel takes
a critical look at the corrupt regime of President Ferdinand Marcos
thing about Korean corruption is that the corruption in Korea was responsible to a large extent to the modernization of your
society. You may disagree with me but I have been following Korea very closely from the Korean
and I can tell you a lot of stories about what this country looked like in the 1950s when I was here," he said.
82-year old author said he has always been closely following Korea, since the Korean War.
Jose, whose son married a
Korean, said he has been to Korea several times before. His first visit was in the 1950s when he saw the poor living conditions
of Korea. At that time, the Philippines was one of the richest countries in Asia
he could only express amazement at how Korea has turned itself into one of the biggest economies in the world, while the Philippines
remains one of the economic laggards in Asia.
Jose admitted he is better known outside the Philippines since the literary
scene has not been flourishing. "I'm bragging but I have more readers outside my country, than in my own country. I have at
least more than 1 million in the Soviet Union
because they translated my
book in the hundreds of thousands," he said. - GMANews.TV
* Cathy Rose A. Garcia is a Filipino journalist who is now based in Seoul,
South Korea. She is the only Filipino staffmember of Korea Times.