"The Girl in the Cylinder" (2019) by Choyeop Kim

for senior division, 2022 essay competition


PROMPT for “The Girl in the Cylinder”

The Girl in the Cylinder” is more plot-oriented than many of Kim’s other stories, but it still demonstrates her approach to dramatizing themes she finds important. The story might be classified as dystopian, but it is also a story of an unlikely friendship. As the plot unfolds, it concretely illustrates many abstract ideas, as Kim says. What are some of these abstract ideas that get dramatized? How does Kim deliver a thematic message through the drama of this story? Is there a particular message to be found in the story, or is it more a matter of emotion and tone?


The Girl in the Cylinder

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Kim Choyeop holds a BA in chemistry and an MA in biochemistry from Pohang University of Science and Technology. She launched her literary career in 2017 when two of her stories won the grand and runner-up prizes at the 2017 Korean SF Awards. She then went on to win the Today’s Writer Award in 2019 and her debut short story collection, If We Can’t Go at the Speed of Light, was a record-breaking bestseller in South Korea. Kim is 28, which is relatively young for a writer, and that—along with her subject matter and forthright personality—is probably one of the reasons she is so popular among young readers. Kim has said that she enjoys converting abstract ideas, such as memory, emotion, consciousness, and relationships into concrete form. She wants to write about the abstractions of life in a concrete and scientific language while discovering new questions in the process.