Lee Ho-Chul’s short story, “The Deputy Mayor Does Not Go to Take Up His Appointment”, depicts Kyu-ho’s conflict with Korea’s authoritarian government in a humorous light. His struggles effectively demonstrate Bergson’s theory of the conflict between one’s body and one’s soul to an extreme. Bergson describes the relationship between body and soul as the soul being “tantalized by the needs of the body” (Bergson 17b). In other words, the soul, or one’s mind or true being, is thought of as pure, perfected, and graceful, however, it is often restricted to the imperfections and clumsiness of the actual physical body. This restriction and incongruity between the soul and body creates a ridiculous and humorous effect. Kyu-ho’s chaotic journey depicts the effects of this restriction as the conflict between his body and soul increases to an extreme; this extreme is represented by the degradation of his body and soul altogether followed by the ultimate loss of his “human-ness”. Although Bergson’s theory of body and soul is related to the comic, in the context of Ho-Chul’s story, the theory is also analogous to the oppressive nature of an authoritarian environment and its inhumane effects.
The initial focus of the story is the increasing conflict between Kyu-ho’s body and soul and his decreasing ability to care for the needs of both. It is evident that he has abandoned many parts of his “soul”, as he has abandoned both his job, his wife, and any ability or inclination to think