Korean Literature                                                                 (by Brother Anthony, An Sonjae)
 in P. France, ed., Oxford Guide to Literary Translation in English, Oxford: OUP, 2000.

            While modern Korean literature began to arise in the years preceding Japan's annexation of Korea (1910), translation of Korean literature into English only really began in the 1940s with the pioneering work of Lee In-su (1916-1950), although a few isolated publications can be found before this, including the work of James S. Gale.
            After liberation from Japan in 1945 and the Korean War (1950-3), Koreans soon realized that their literature was unknown abroad for lack of translation. One early attempt to remedy this was an anthology, Korean Verses, published by the Korean Poets' Association in Seoul in 1961. This included translations by Lee In-su, Kim Jong-gil, Zong In-sob, Ko Won, and other pioneers.
            In 1960, Peter Hyun published an anthology Voices of the Dawn in London and in 1964, Peter H. Lee began his long career in the field, publishing Poems from Korea in Honolulu. Peter Lee's more recent work is widely used in the academic study of Korean literature abroad.
            The greatest problem has always been the difficulty of finding a publisher. Innumerable translations remain buried in back numbers of such papers and periodicals as The Korea Times, The Korea Journal, and more recently the Korea Foundation's Koreana or Korean P.E.N's Korean Literature Today.
            Translation by people whose native tongue is English, standard for most countries' literature, has always been the exception in Korea. A few missionaries and Peace Corps workers, having mastered Korean to a certain degree, have worked hard on translating in their spare moments.
            Starting in the 1960s, Richard Rutt worked mainly on the older poetry known as sijo, which led to the publication of The Bamboo Grove in California in 1971. In the 1970s he was joined in translating by Edward W. and Genell Y. Poitras, Daniel Kister, and Kevin O'Rourke, all of them producing numerous translations of fiction and poetry. Still active in the 1990s, Kevin O'Rourke displays a true poet's skills in his anthology Tilting the Jar, Spilling the Moon, as well as in his versions of such poets as So Chong-ju and the classic Lee Kyu-bo.
            David McCann has concentrated on So Chong-ju, while serving as one of the very rare non-Korean professors of Korean Literature in the world, now (1997) at Harvard. The sudden death in 1995 of Marshall R. Pihl of the University of Hawaii was a grave loss. His The Korean Singer of Tales was a major achievement.
            Since 1990, Brother Anthony of Taizé, working mainly in collaboration with Kim Young-moo, has published a number of volumes of contemporary poetry: Ku Sang, Kim Kwang-kyu, So Chong-ju, Ch'on Sang-pyong, etc..
            The majority of translations have been made by Koreans, usually professors in English Departments of Korean universities, among them the poet Kim Jong-gil with his Slow Chrysanthemums, poems by Korean masters of Classical Chinese. Other such professors include Kim Jaihyun, Lee Sung-il, Chung Chong-wha, and Suh Ji-moon, to name but a few, who have published many volumes of translations in Korea and abroad. Now living in the United States, Chun Kyung-ja has produced some particularly noted work.
            Korean fiction is fortunate to have found a highly professional team of translators in Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton. They have translated short stories and novellas that represent some of the best modern Korean writing. Their recent publications have made a significant breakthrough: thanks to them, for the first time Korean writers, particularly women, are being widely read in the West for what they have to say to a world audience.
            Over the last twenty years, the Korean government has established funding agencies to encourage translation of Korean literature and publication abroad. The most significant work has been done by the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation. The non-governmental Daesan Foundation, established in 1992, runs a parallel program. Concerns of national prestige and dreams of a Nobel Prize naturally linger below these acts of cultural patronage, which allow books to be published but have no power to make people read them.
            The decision by the Harvill Press to include Yi Mun-yol's The Poet (1995) among their titles represented a major step in the recognition of Korean literature, for it was the first time that a major international publisher had taken the initiative in commissioning a translation from the Korean.
            There are indications that in future important work will be done by people of Korean descent living in English-speaking countries. Some will address the needs of the academic readership involved in East Asian Studies, while others will make Korean literature available to a wider public. The valuable contribution made by JaHyun Kim Haboush in The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong on the academic side, or the work of the translator Walter Lew as the editor responsible for the first number (1995) of the review Muae in New York, testify to this.
            The Bibliography below can only indicate a few titles, for the translators named above have all published numerous volumes, and there are many others who might have been named if space had allowed. There is unfortunately no full up-to-date bibliography of Korean literature in translation available, although a CD-Rom Bibliography of Korean Studies made at Harvard (1997) will include as much information as possible.
Brother Anthony of Taizé. Wastelands of Fire: selected poems by Ku Sang. London: Forest Books. 1990.
Brother Anthony of Taizé and Young-moo Kim. The Sound of my Waves: Selected poems by Ko Un. Ithaca: Cornell East Asia Series. 1991.
Chun, Kung-ja. Ch'ae Man-sik: Peace Under Heaven. New York: M.E. Sharpe. 1991
Chung, Chong-wha and Brother Anthony of Taizé. Yi Mun-yol: The Poet. The Harvill Press. 1995.
Fulton, Bruce and Ju-Chan. Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers. Seattle: Seal Press. 1989.
Fulton. Bruce and Ju-Chan. Wayfarer: New fiction by Korean women. Seattle: Women in Translation. 1997.
Kim Haboush, JaHyun. The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1996.
Kim, Jong-gil. Slow Chrysanthemums. London: Anvil Press Poetry. 1987.
Lee, Peter H. (Editor). Anthology of Korean Literature: from early times to the nineteenth century. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1982
Lee, Peter H. (Editor). Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 1990.
O'Rourke, Kevin. Tilting the Jar, Spilling the Moon. Dublin: Dedalus. 1993.
Pihl, Marshall R., Fulton, Bruce and Ju-Chan. Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction. New York: M.E. Sharpe. 1993.
Pihl, Marshall R.. The Korean Singer of Tales. Harvard University. 1994.
Rutt, Richard. The Bamboo Grove: an introduction to sijo. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1971.

                        Translators mentioned
Anthony, Brother (of Taizé)
Chun, Kyung-ja
Chung, Chong-wha
Fulton, Bruce and Ju-Chan
Gale, James S.
Hyun, Peter
Lee, In-su (1916-1950)
Lee, Peter H.
Lee, Sung-il
Kim Jaihyun
Kim, Jong-gil 
Kim, Young-moo
Kim Haboush, JaHyun
Kister, Daniel
Ko, Won,
Lew, Walter
McCann, David
O'Rourke, Kevin
Pihl, Marshall R.
Poitras, Edward W. and Genell Y.
Rutt, Richard
Suh, Ji-moon
Zong, In-sob
            Original authors mentioned
Ch'ae, Man-sik
Ch'on, Sang-pyong
Kim, Kwang-kyu
Ko, Un
Ku, Sang
Lee, Kyu-bo
So, Chong-ju
Yi, Mun-yol
Titles mentioned
Anthology of Korean Literature: from early times to the   nineteenth century
Bamboo Grove, The
Korean Singer of Tales, The
Korean Verses
Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction
Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, The
Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology.
Peace Under Heaven
Poems from Korea
Poet, The
Slow Chrysanthemums
Sound of my Waves, The: Selected poems by Ko Un
Tilting the Jar, Spilling the Moon
Voices of the Dawn
Wastelands of Fire: selected poems by Ku Sang
Wayfarer: New fiction by Korean women
Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers