Han by Eva Tind
Han is the semi-autobiographical account of an adopted woman’s trip to North Korea in an effort to gain an impression of her deceased father’s homeland. The story is framed within the cold, hard facts of her journey: the daily temperature, a list of guidelines supplied by the official tour company, propaganda from the North Korean regime, descriptions of the few locations her tour group is allowed to visit, and accounts of the interactions between the disparate tour group and the few locals they are permitted to interact with. However, the author goes beyond this narrative, airing her confusion with a people who so closely resemble her yet are so different, and constantly feeling drawn to the home village of the father she never met, but is prohibited from travelling to. During these moments of reflection, she speaks directly to her father in poetic and heartfelt appeals, as she attempts to reconcile her biological roots with her social and cultural upbringing.
In adopting the style of reportage, the author takes on the role of a neutral observer, dispassionately narrating the encounters and wild speculations of the tour group: is any of what they are seeing real, or is it all just one big show put on especially for them? At the same time, the author’s descriptions of her attempts to discover some connection with the local people in a search for her biological roots, are beautiful and heart-rending; a father-daughter relationship that never materialised. The internal conflict evident in Eva Tind’s writing has been compared to Marguerite Duras, with both writers having a divided sense of loyalty to their cultural and geographical backgrounds. There are also similarities to Hannah Arendt in Tind’s examinations of people, politics and power.
Eva Tind is an author, visual artist and film director. She was born in South Korea but raised in Denmark. She graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’s School of Architecture in 2001. Tind was awarded the Klaus Rifbjerg Debutant Prize for lyrics by the Danish Academy.