Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
For centuries Korea has been struggling to find itself a rightful place in the shadow of foreign powers -- Russia, China, Japan, and after the Second World War, the united States. postwar Korean literature often revolves around the country's search for its own identity despite wars and partitioning. How does the story "Cranes" portray the Koreans in a divided nation?
Maria Nadeau: "Cranes," by Hwang Sunwon, depicts two friends and their contrasting political views. Fond memories of their past adventures cool the hatred between them. It is almost mind-boggling to think that one day we would face our friends and have to murder them because of our differing ideology.
Daniel Jacobs: The decision to choose North or South pales in comparison to the childhood memories of Songsam and Tokchae in "Cranes." These large white birds symbolize not only peace but the insignificance of having to choose sides. They remain on the line which divides Korea, yet all the people are gone.
Jennifer Henry:The story "Cranes" is heart-warming as it depicts a war-torn country where people have to choose sides and even best friends could hate each other. When Songsam recalls his happy childhood with Tokchae, he realizes what a divided Korea has done to its people. Peace has to happen some time, and if not in the country, at least between friends.
Lim Ki-Dongt: The inevitable conflict between the two friends illustrates the kind of tension and affection in a divided Korea. The two governments are divided by political rivalry yet attached by a common bond between families and friends on the other side of the thirty-eighth Parallel. Childhood memories cherished by Songsam and Tokchae signify hope for unification.
May Yuen: "Cranes" takes place in a time when the Koreans are torn apart politically and emotionally. Songsam and Tokchae are childhood friends who find each other on opposite sides, but as they reminisce about their past, they begin to find each other on the same side. Songsam sees Tokchae as the crane which they once freed.
Sekou Russell: "Cranes" is a great story with a little childhood vignette that gives it a brotherly "we're-all-the-same-in-this-world" feeling. The story is characteristic of many world-famous stories, for example, the Walt Disney classic The Fox and the Hound.
Sarah Tan: Songsam's release of Tokchae expresses his yearning for their innocent childhood. When Songsam remembers the crane they once raised and set free, he realizes the importance of allowing his friend to escape. They reconcile and renew their bond of affection despite their political differences.
Michael Kociuba: At first I wonder why two friends are trying to kill each other, and then I ask what I would do in this situation. Songsam and Tokchae are divided not by personal reasons, but by exterior factors. As they once got together and freed the crane, perhaps the two governments of Korea can unite and do great things.
Hwang, Sunwon. "Cranes." In Flowers of Fire: Twentieth-Century Korean Stories.
Copyright © 1996 by the authors. Information from this article should be attributed to the authors.