London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

LKL book database logo

My husband the poet

Translated by:
Publisher: , 2006
Original title: 날개 없는 새 짝이 되어
Link to online store *

“wonderful translation . . . It’s the best book of prose I’ve read from Korea. nothing like it, nothing close.” (Professor David McCann, Harvard University) A deeply personal account of life as a poet’s wife is now available in English. Mok Sun-ok, poet Chon Sang-pyong’s wife of over 20 years, writes about her years with the poet in My Husband the Poet, published by Seoul Selection. Dead poets are usually quickly forgotten in Korea, yet his is still a familiar name to most Koreans. Younger people know him as the poet with a childlike heart who wrote the beautiful poem “Kwichon” that they read in high school. Older people remember him as a picturesque eccentric who enjoyed hanging out with artistic, bohemian friends in the bars of Myeong-dong, drinking makkolli, talking and laughing loudly, and writing poems and essays for a pittance. Likewise, anyone familiar with Insa-dong knows the tiny tea-house also called “Kwichon,” which is run by the poet’s wife since 1985. Since his death in 1993, the story of their life together has been portrayed in stage plays, musicals, and TV dramas: his life in total poverty, his arrest and torture on the groundless suspicion of being a spy, his dramatic disappearance, then reappearance just when his friends had concluded he was dead, his love of children, and above all, the faithful and selfless care he received through twenty years from Mok Sun-ok, his wife. It is entirely thanks to her efforts that now, a dozen years after his death, Chon Sang-pyong is commemorated by memorial stones in several parts of the country and an annual Chong Sang-pyong Literary Award, as well a yearly Chon Sang-pyong Festival in Uijongbu, where he lived, died and is buried. Herself a survivor of the Hiroshima atom bomb, Mok Sun-ok wrote and published the story of their life together soon after he died.

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.