Yi Mun-yol was born in Seoul in 1948, but his father defected to North Korea during the Korean War, leaving his family in the South, where they had to endure years of suspicion and stigma. After much torment, struggle and poverty, he was able to enter Seoul National University. He made his literary debut in 1979 when his novella Saehagok was one of the winners of the New Spring Literary Contest sponsored by the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper. A prolific author, Yi Mun-yol has published a number of outstanding novels including Son of Man (the first chapter of which appears above), The Poet, For the Emperor, and the novellas Garuda and Our Twisted Hero. Since 1999 he has served as the head of the Buak Literary Center, a residential program for budding writers.