Letter from the Editor
My dad specialized in optics – the study of light. I find it very fitting that he shed light as a living. Isn’t that what loved ones and words do? All the dilations, refractions, and reflections: we come to better see ourselves in light of the other. Through my dad’s eyes, I saw myself illuminated.
Since my father’s passing at the end of 2021, I’ve remained in a malaise of speechlessness. Grief, loss, is inherently speechless in the absence of the other. Here is where turning to literature sparks soft sight. I am reminded, as I read, that our stories, all parallel and multiversal, hold glimmers and recursion to fundamental human experiences. Literature holds, calms, comforts, and gives life to the unspoken.
In tandem, I think back on all the conversations that my father and I shared, how his words and gentle encouragement have molded me over the years. He always encouraged my love for writing from a young age. Growing up in the STEM-focused world of Silicon Valley, having my dad’s support gave me wings. One of the first stories I wrote as a child was about a family of chickens. My first zine, stapled paper and drawings and all. He kept it in the drawer with all our important documents, and I remember him gushing with pride as he flipped through my chicken scratch. As I grew older, he supported my decision to pursue an English degree, and encouraged me to pursue my literary dreams. After his cancer diagnosis, as I treaded the line between the mortality of life and the vitality of words, my father exemplified the courage to face the unknown - my north star.
My dad was one of the first people who showed me the power of words. Words as a love language, as love itself. He always affirmed me, never shying away from showing his affection. He showed me that words carry weight, power, and impact. He taught me to believe in myself and what I have to say. It’s because of him that I am here, today, writing this note to our beloved readers.
Our lives and the words we carry flow from the legacy of those who came before us– family, friends, ancestors, and role models whose spirits live on within our stories. This issue of The Hanok Review centers those we’ve lost, those we long to keep alive forever. As grieved as I am that my father is no longer here to behold this issue, I know the pride he would undoubtedly feel.
It’s an honor to bring Korean poetry of all shades and shadows, speechless to bereaved to embattled, to the fore. There is much talk about han as a collective Korean emotion, but here, we also remember the jeong that ties us altogether. So long as we write, so long as we remember, the lost are never truly gone. After all, light illuminates all it touches - to bring back to life.