Imi Sang's "The Adventures of Sand Aunt, Mokgyeong and Mukgyeong" explores the force of determination that urges one to believe in oneself and move forward, and the inner strength required to willingly take on tasks one needs to do but detest doing. In the story, an aunt, perennially underappreciated despite her selfless care of the household, departs from the world. Mokgyeong, picking up the pieces behind her, eavesdrops on a conversation in a café about novel writing between two author sisters. Inspired by their chat, Mokgyeong reminisces about her childhood hunting adventures with Mukgyeong, under their aunt's watchful eye. The work, with its episodic narrative that incites curiosity while gradually revealing its core, garnered unanimous acclaim from the judging panel for its resounding momentum.
Kim Mela's "Dream My Dream" delineates an unusual situation where 'I', after a failed suicide attempt succumbs to an unexpected death by choking on a chocolate bar. Now they must appoint someone to discover their body by giving them a sign, entering their dreamscape. Choosing to infuse loved ones' dreams with joy instead of sadness, the protagonist's resolve bestows a surprisingly optimistic ending to a story about a tragic death, showcasing a fantastical radical imagination.
Sung Hyeryung's "Mushroom Farm" traces a chilly, tension-filled journey that begins when Jinwha, the victim of a cellphone identity theft scam, seeks help from her high school friend, Kijin. The narrative reveals the young man's here and now, imbued with a distinctive ambiance, revealing a life sustained by pure self-reliance, sans beliefs in redemption or recovery.
Lee Seosu's "The March of Young Geunhee" illustrates the process by which Munhee begins to understand and accept her sister Geunhee's decision to leave her job and become a YouTuber. It vividly portrays the lives of resilient young people in an era where putting oneself on display no longer holds novelty.
Jung Sunim's "Yokata" poignantly questions the course of personal narratives being reshaped by societal demands. The story follows an elderly woman who, having lived a lifetime bearing her deceased sister's name and age, is given the opportunity to voice a summary of her life.
Ham Yuni's "The Purpose of the Mother-of-Pearl Cabinet" reveals the lives of women across generations, each harnessing the power of the cabinet that enables teleportation in their unique way. Their stories redefine the meaning of liberation and return.
Hyeon Hojeong's "Pencil Sandwich" evokes contemplation of the sanctity and revulsion involved in preparing meals for others and receiving them, narrating a peculiar nightmare that terrorizes 'I', who suffers from an eating disorder, in which she is compelled to chew and swallow a sandwich made of pencils. The story delineating the tenacity of women who are bound by the many tasks of care labor, especially that of feeding others but also of feeding themselves, keeps the readers on the edge.
Reference: Munhakdongne. "The 14th Annual Young Writers' Award 2023", https://www.munhak.com/book/view.php?dtype=brand&id=14245. accessed 1 August 2023.