Brother Anthony, An Sonjae)
in P. France, ed., Oxford Guide to Literary Translation in English,
Oxford: OUP, 2000.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anthony, Brother (of Taizé)
Fulton, Bruce and Ju-Chan
Gale, James S.
Lee, In-su (1916-1950)
Lee, Peter H.
Kim Haboush, JaHyun
Pihl, Marshall R.
Poitras, Edward W. and
Anthology of Korean Literature:
from early times to the nineteenth
Bamboo Grove, The
Korean Singer of Tales, The
Land of Exile: Contemporary
Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, The
Modern Korean Literature: An
Peace Under Heaven
Poems from Korea
Sound of my Waves, The:
Selected poems by Ko Un
Tilting the Jar, Spilling the
Voices of the Dawn
Wastelands of Fire: selected
poems by Ku Sang
Wayfarer: New fiction by Korean
Words of Farewell: Stories by
Korean Women Writers