Cranes Questions and Answers
by Hwang Sun-Won

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In the story "Cranes," what do the cranes symbolize?

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In Asian culture, cranes are generally symbols of good fortune and longevity. Since this story is set in Korea, one can assume that it depicts the same or a similar theme.

The narrator describes an encounter between two childhood friends who had been separated because of the Korean War. When the conflict began, one decided to flee from their village and the other stayed behind. Their meeting, years later, finds them in contrasting positions of the political divide. As such, they have now become enemies.

It is clear from the text that one, Song-sam, is in a superior position to the other, Tok-chae. Tok-chae has been arrested as an enemy of the state and is to be taken to another village for execution. His former friend, Song-sam, asks to take him. The narrator shares Song-sam's thoughts and sentiments with the reader and provides insight into the two men's past relationship. It becomes clear that they were best friends who shared a number of adventures in their youth.

The cranes that they...

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