The Korean Film Council recently publicised on its website the new “Book to Film” initiative aimed at bringing together the film and the publishing industries.
Of course, the practice adapting a book for the big screen is almost as old as the movie industry itself, and some of South Korea’s most successful movies have been adaptations of everything from serious novels to internet stories. A list of such films would go on for rather too long. This post is designed to list out some of those films where the original novel is available in an English translation.
With Korean cultural contents, consumers in the west are more likely to come across a work of Korean literature through film rather than through reading the book in translation. But seeing the film can often make you want to read the book. And while Korean translated literature is by no means mainstream, it can be found, with more becoming available all the time.
Over the years, I’ve been jotting down all the films where I’m aware that the screenplay is based on a Korean (or sometimes Japanese) novel which is available in an English translation. I recently lost those notes, and am now painfully reconstructing them. But here’s a start, in the hope that others will contribute. I know I’ve probably missed some really obvious ones. I’ll certainly add to the list below as I come across new examples or if ever I find my notes.
In no particular order:
|Song Hae-sung||Boomerang Family||Cheon Myung-kwan||Modern Family||White Pine | Amazon.co.uk|
|Lim Woo-seong||Vegetarian||Han Kang||The Vegetarian||Portobello Books | Amazon.co.uk|
|Im Kwon-taek||Seopyeonje||Lee Cheong-jun||Seopyeonje – the Southerners’ Songs||Peter Owen | Amazon.co.uk|
|Im Kwon-taek||Beyond the Years||Lee Cheong-jun||Seopyeonje – the Southerners’ Songs||Peter Owen | Amazon.co.uk|
|Im Kwon-taek||Taebaek Mountains||Jo Jung-rae||Taebaek Mountains||Forthcoming|
|Im Kwon-taek||Genealogy (Jokbo, 1979)||Kajiyama Toshiyuki||The Clan Records||University of Hawai’i Press | Amazon.co.uk | LKL review|
|Im Kwon-taek||Village in the Mist (1983)||Yi Mun-yol||An Anonymous Island||New Yorker Magazine (subscribers only) | LKL review|
|Im Kwon-taek||Hwajang / Revivre (2014)||Kim Hoon||From Powder to Powder, in Land of Exile||Routledge / ME Sharpe | Amazon.co.uk | LKL review|
|Shin Sang-ok||My Mother and Her Guest (1961)||Chu Yo-seop||Mama and the Boarder (1935) (in A Ready-Made Life: Early Masters of Modern Korean Fiction Ed Kim Chong-un & Bruce Fulton)||University of Hawai’i Press | Amazon.co.uk|
|Im Sang-soo||The Old Garden||Hwang Sok-yong||The Old Garden||Seven Stories Press | Amazon.co.uk | LKL review|
|Jeong Ji-yeong||White Badge||Ahn Jung-hyo||White Badge||Soho Press | Amazon.co.uk|
|Jang Sun-woo||Petal||Choe Yun||There a Petal Silently Falls||Columbia University Press | Amazon.co.uk | LKL essays|
|Yu Hyun-mok||Kim’s Daughters||Park Kyung-ni||The Curse of Kim’s Daughters (1962)||Homa & Sekey | Amazon.co.uk|
|Yu Hyun-mok||Martyrs (1965)||Richard E Kim||The Martyred (1964)||Penguin (2011) | Amazon.co.uk | LKL review|
|Yu Hyun-mok||Descendants of Cain (1968)||Hwang Sun-won||Descendants of Cain (1954)||ME Sharpe (1997) | Amazon.co.uk|
|Jeon Soo-il||My Right to Ravage Myself (2003)||Kim Young-ha||I have a right to destroy myself||Harcourt | Amazon | LKL Review|
|Byun Hyuk||The Scarlet Letter||Kim Young-ha||Photoshop Murder (and Meditation on Mirror – not yet translated)||Jimoondang | Amazon.co.uk|
|Yu Hyun-mok||Son of Man (1980)||Yi Mun-yol||Son of Man||Brother Anthony’s site|
|Jang Yoon-hyeon||Hwang Jin-yi||Hong Seok-jung||Hwang Jin-yi (excerpt published in Literature from the “Axis of Evil”)||Words Without Borders | Amazon.co.uk|
|Lee Man-hee||The Road to Sampo||Hwang Sok-yong||The Road to Sampo and Other Korean Short Stories||Pace Pub | Amazon.co.uk|
|Kim Su-yong||Mist (1967)||Kim Seung-ok||Record of a Journey to Mujin (In Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology, 1908-1965)||Amazon.co.uk|
|Ko Young-nam||The Shower||Hwang Soon-won||The Shower (In Modern Korean Literature: An Anthology, 1908-1965); also available separately online on Brother Anthony’s website||Brother Anthony | Amazon.co.uk|
|Han Hye-jin and An Jae-hoon||Leafie, a Hen into the Wild (2010)||Hwang Sun-Mi||The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly||Penguin, 2013 | Amazon.co.uk | LKL Review|
|Song Hae-sung||Maundy Thursday (2006)||Gong Ji-young||Our Happy Time||Short Books, 2014 | Amazon.co.uk | LKL Review|
|Choi Ha-won||Trees on a Slope (1968)||Hwang Sun-won||Trees on a Slope (1960)||Univ of Hawai’i, 2005 | Amazon.co.uk|
|Kim Ho-Seon||Yeong-Ja’s Heydays (1975)||Cho Seon-jak||Young-ja’s Heyday (1973) in The Preview and Other Stories||Jain, 2003 | Amazon.co.uk|
|Park Chong-won||Our Twisted Hero (1992)||Yi Mun-yol||Our Twisted Hero (1987)||Hyperion, 2001 | Amazon.co.uk | LKL review|