Korean literature in translation

A little over a year after the London Book Fair, at which his Vietnam war novel The Shadow of Arms was launched, Hwang Sok-yong returned to London to launch Sora Kim-Russell’s translation of his 2007 novel Princess Bari. Hwang appeared at Asia House today for a book-signing and conversation with Guardian literary critic Maya Jaggi, […]

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I rather think I agree

by Philip Gowman 26 April 2015
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Have a read of Charles Montgomery’s post What a Terrible Idea! ㅡ Merging the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, and a similar article by Korea Herald editorial writer Kim Hooran Market principle, culture don’t mix. Links: LTI Korea | KPIPA

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I think I just don’t get Park Kyung-ni

by Philip Gowman 19 April 2015
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Having failed to make much headway with Park Kyung-ni’s T’oji / Land, I thought I might give her Curse of Kim’s Daughters a try, in preparation for a re-watch of Yu Hyun-mok’s film adaptation of the novel. I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie the first time I saw it. But then, so far I haven’t […]

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A timely arrival for the 2015 London Book Fair

by Philip Gowman 15 April 2015
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Last year there were a couple of translations of Korean novels whose publication was timed to coincide with the London Book Fair. This year, despite Korea no longer being the focus country, the habit seems to be continuing. Bae Suah’s Nowhere to be Found, translated by Sora Kim-Russell, arrived on my doormat today, day 2 […]

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A Conversation with Hwang Sok-yong, at Asia House

by Philip Gowman 15 April 2015
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This year the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival gives us a Korean heavyweight. Hwang Sok-yong will be coming to talk about his recently translated novel, Princess Bari. Read LKL’s interview with the book’s translator, Sora Kim-Russell, here. UPDATE: Asia House has kindly offered LKL readers a discount of £2 off the ticket price. Simply enter the […]

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Book review: Pavane for a Dead Princess

by Philip Gowman 7 April 2015
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Park Min-gyu: Pavane for a Dead Princess Translated by Amber Hyun Jung Kim Dalkey Archive, 2014, 262pp Originally published as 죽은 왕녀를 위한 파반느, 2009 Park Min-gyu’s Pavane for a Dead Princess is the first in Dalkey Archive’s second set (of five volumes) of their Library of Korean Literature. Even though I’ve only had time […]

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Published this month: Ko Un’s Maninbo, from Bloodaxe

by Philip Gowman 20 February 2015
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Bloodaxe Books, who last year brought us Kim Hyesoon’s I’m OK, I’m Pig!, and who brought us Ko Un’s moving First Person Sorrowful in 2012 continue their support for Korean poetry in translation by bringing us a selection from Ko Un’s magnum opus, Ten Thousand Lives. Once again Brother Anthony and Lee Sang-Wha are the […]

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An interview with Sora Kim-Russell, translator of Hwang Sok-yong’s Princess Bari

by Philip Gowman 12 February 2015
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Those of you who came along to the London Book Fair last year and were tantalised by seeing a translation of a passage from Hwang Sok-yong’s Princess Bari – at the time unpublished in English, and with no indication even that any more of the book had been translated – will be delighted by this […]

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Han Kang and Deborah Levy in conversation with Deborah Smith

by Philip Gowman 10 January 2015
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When Han Kang appeared at an event with Shin Kyung-sook on day 2 of the 2014 London Book Fair we were treated to a sneak preview of the cover artwork of the English translation of The Vegetarian. It was hot off the press: the book’s translator Deborah Smith had been sent some samples that very […]

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Festival Film Review: This Road Called Life

by Philip Gowman 15 December 2014
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Following on from the success of their feature-length animation Green Days, Studio MWP worked with Korean TV broadcaster EBS to produce a trio of short films which adapt three familiar short stories which are studied by most Koreans in high school: Yi Hyo-seok’s Buckwheat Season, Kim Yu-jeong’s Spring, Spring, and A Lucky Day by Hyun […]

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Book review: Lee Jung-myung — The Investigation

by Philip Gowman 10 December 2014
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Lee Jung-myung: The Investigation Translated by Kim Chi-young Mantle, 2014, 288pp The central character in The Investigation is a real historical figure: Yun Dong-ju, a poet who had the misfortune to live in the Japanese colonial period. There can be few worse fates for a poet than to be prohibited from writing in his native […]

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Book review: Haïlji — The Republic of Užupis

by Philip Gowman 8 December 2014
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Haïlji: The Republic of Užupis Translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton Dalkey Archive 2014. 160pp Originally published as 우주피스 공화국, Minumsa, 2009. Imagine what Haruki Murakami might come up with in a collaboration with David Lynch, after watching a few monster-free episodes of Doctor Who, and you might get an inkling of what to expect […]

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Two Dalkey titles in the running for international literary award

by Philip Gowman 6 December 2014
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There’s tough competition, and a longlist of 140 other books including one by JK Rowling, but two Dalkey Archive titles are in the running for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. According to the award’s website: Nominations are made by libraries in capital and major cities throughout the world. Participating libraries can nominate up […]

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Book review: Kim Joo-young — Stingray

by Philip Gowman 1 December 2014
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Kim Joo-young: Stingray Dalkey Archive 2013, 124pp Translated by Inrae You Vinciguerra and Louis Vinciguerra. Originally published as 홍어, Munidang, Seoul, 1998 Stingray has the accolade of being allocated #1 in Dalkey Archive‘s set of 10 Korean novels translated into English. It happens to be the third I’ve picked up. The first two were real […]

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Bringing Kim Hoon’s Hwajang to the big screen: How to act a swollen prostate?

by Philip Gowman 3 November 2014
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Im Kwon-taek set himself quite a challenge when he decided to make a movie of Kim Hoon’s Hwajang. It is a dense, concentrated and rich piece of writing – I hesitate to say “short story”, because really there’s not much narrative flow. Instead, there’s well-balanced contrast; there’s inner thoughts and emotions; there are the human […]

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Come celebrate the launch of the next 5 Dalkey K-Lit titles

by Philip Gowman 30 October 2014
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After last year’s release of ten titles, Dalkey Archive Press has a follow-up release of five new translations. If they all measure up to No One Writes Back from their first set, which was runaway winner of LKL’s Book of the Year 2013, there is treasure in store. So come and help celebrate, and encourage […]

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LKL’s latest must-see film of the LKFF 2014: The Road Called Life

by Philip Gowman 28 October 2014
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It’s taking a while to go through the LKFF 2014 programme to prioritise those films which I simply *have* to go to see. So thanks to Frances Yoo from Studio Meditation with a Pencil for alerting me to the title that instantly has gone from “when I get round to it, I’ll look to see […]

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