The Korea Herald


[New in Korean] Millionaire dog sponsors human artist in Yun Ko-eun’s ‘Art on Fire’

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Nov. 4, 2023 - 16:01

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"Art on Fire" by Yun Ko-eun (EunHaeng NaMu Publishing)

"Art on Fire"

By Yun Ko-eun

EunHaeng NaMu Publishing

Author Yun Ko-eun, the winner of the prestigious CWA Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger in 2021 for the novel "The Disaster Tourist” (translated by Lizzie Buehler), returns with the black comedy "Art on Fire."

The story follows an artist named Ahn Yi-ji, who once aspired to be a painter but now makes a living as a delivery rider.

One day, she receives an interesting offer from a foundation called the Robert Foundation, which agrees to sponsor her to pursue her creative work in California. The patron is a dog named Robert.

The fact that Robert is a dog is awkward for Ahn. She wonders whether all the insights come from the dog and if his interpreter is correctly translating the dog's language. Ahn decides to accept the foundation's support.

The sponsorship comes with a condition: one of Ahn's works must be burned on the last day of the exhibition, to bring more public attention. Ahn is shocked to learn that it is the foundation that decides which work is to be burned. The story gradually approaches its climax as Robert's order to burn a work clashes with Ahn's pride, as she finds it difficult to destroy her own creation.

The question, "What is art?" is explored through discussions touching on how artists struggle to make a living, the power of capital and debates over burning artwork.

The rights to the book were acquired by Scribe, a British publisher, before its release in Korea. The English translation edition is scheduled to be released in the UK in 2025.