Abstract

Compared to John Steinbeck's unusually great popularity in Japan, his popularity in South Korea has been regrettably scanty. The Twenty-Ninth International PEN Congress held in Tokyo in August 1957, however, paved the way for the proper introduction of Steinbeck to South Korea on a much greater scale. In-sob Zong's interview with Steinbeck in Tokyo played a central role in making the obscure American writer widely known to Korean readers. The topics discussed in the brief interview include (1) the negative impact of mass media, such as radio, television, and advertisements, on literary artists; (2) the extent to which American writers think and write freely; (3) the role of the writer as a social or political critic; and so on. In addition, this article examines how strenuously Steinbeck tried to fight vicious Communist propaganda with regard to United Nations forces allegedly dumping germs in the Korean peninsula during the Korean War. It also maintains that Steinbeck was greatly concerned with Korea and its civil war. His bedrock conviction for the future of Korea and its people is best articulated in a series of letters he wrote to Alicia Patterson, publisher of Newsday, in 1965–67.

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