Soon after losing her own daughter in a tragic accident, Hon returns to her childhood home in the Korean countryside after many years away. Her father, a cattle farmer, is elderly and requires her care. He is withdrawn, kind but awkward around his own daughter.
As time passes however, Hon realises that her father is far more complex than she ever realised. The discovery of a chest of letters and conversations with his family and friends help Hon piece together the tumultuous story of his life. She learns of her father's experiences during the Korean War and the violence of the 19th April Revolution; of a love affair and involvement in a religious sect; of his sacrifice and heroism and of the phantoms that haunt him.
As she unravels secret after secret, Hon grows closer to her father, realising that his lifelong kindness belies a past wrought in both private and national trauma.
More than just the portrait of one man, I Went to See My Father opens a window onto humankind, family, loss and war. It asks us to look at the ones we love, uncover the secrets they keep, and finally see who they really are.
Flawlessly rendered by award-winning translator Anton Hur, Kyung-Sook Shin has crafted a novel both affectionate and epic, joyous and lasting.