Turbid Rivers was written just before Ch’ae Man-Sik was arrested in 1938 by the Japanese colonial government. Like the two novels that followed (Peace Under Heaven and Frozen Fish), Turbid River is a realistic portrayal of life in Korea under Japanese colonization. The tragic story of a woman’s life, the novel is also a penetrating look into the objectification of women.
Ch’ae Man-Sik was born in Okgu, North Jeolla Province in 1902. He produced works that authentically showcased the social realities and conflicts of the time such as “My Innocent Uncle” (1938), Peace Under Heaven (1938), and the play The Legend of the Mantis (1940), among others. Afterwards and until his death on June 11, 1950, shortly before the outbreak of Korean War, he reproached the pro-Japanese actions of Korean intellectuals at the end of the colonial period in his work and also produced satires of contemporary society in post-Liberation Korea.