Bora Chung

About Bora Chung

Bora Chung fell in love with strange, fantastic stories by Eastern European writers while majoring in Russian language and literature in college. She then aspired to write an equally strange and fantastic story, the result of which titled “The Head” won the 1998 Yonsei Literature Prize.

Chung has published three novels and three books of collected short stories. In 2008, her novella The Fox won the Digital Literature Award, second prize in the Mobile category. In 2014, her short story “The Seed” won a Gwacheon Science Center SF Award (second prize for short stories). Her latest novel The Red Sword is a Korean SF bestseller. She likes dark and magical stories about strong women who fight to survive in an unjust and violent world.

Chung has an M.A. in Russian and East European area studies from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Slavic literatures from Indiana University with a focus on modern Russian and Polish literatures and utopian literature in particular. She currently teaches Russian language and literature and science fiction studies at Yonsei University and translates modern literary works from Russian and Polish into Korean.

In her own words

I wanted to write a novel based on the 17th-century Sino-Russian border conflict. The empire in The Red Sword was therefore less Star Wars and more Qing dynasty, who drew Korea into their “Russian Conquest.” But I ran into problems as soon as I set the conflict in space. The more I wrote, the more the story turned into something else. But that’s just the nature of fiction and it didn’t seem like it was necessarily a problem, so I just kept on writing.

The Red Sword, author’s afterword

I don’t feel scared at all when I write horrific or gory scenes. I think it’s because I’m more intent on thinking of what an ordinary person wouldn’t do, of the twist in the character’s behavior. Aside from making up a fun plot, you’ve got to make the unusual reactions of your character believable if you want to convince your reader. I think the power of writing is in this ability to make the reader believe. I wanted to see how far I could push that in my writing. That’s all I was trying to do, so it amuses me when people say my characters scare them.

Interview with Chaeg Magazine