Paper Title
The Second Death and The Advent of An Ethical Subject: A Lacanian Approach to Han Kang’s The Vegetarian

The metamorphosis of the protagonist Yeong-hye in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian has been examined in terms of the physical death of the body. However, Yeong-hye’s death as well as her struggle of becoming a tree can be most adequately explained in terms of the Lacanian “second death.” The second death accompanies great pain as it is closely related with a realm beyond the pleasure principle of the symbolic. Though it causes pain, it should be persistently pursued as it allows a subject, chained to desire the desire of the Other, to have access to its authentic desire, the death drive. In Lacan’s point of view, only the subject confronting its true desire is the authentic subject, namely the “ethical” subject beyond the morality of society. This ethical subject is important in that it can reveal the lack of the symbolic. Through never yielding to her desire, Yeong-hye awakens In-hye to see that the symbolic is far from totality and that is why Yeong-hye and her death as the second death should be interpreted as ‘an ethical subject’s ethical act.’ Index Terms- desire of the Real, Han Kang, Lacan, second death, The Vegetarian