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Ten Thousand Lives: Maninbo, Volumes 21–25

Born in 1933 in a small rural village in Korea’s North Cholla Province, Ko Un grew up in a Japanese-controlled land that was soon to experience the horrors of the Korean War. He became a Buddhist monk in 1952, and began writing in the late 1950s.

Ten Thousand Lives is his major, ongoing work, which began in prison with a determination to describe every person he had ever met or heard of. It tells the stories of many figures from Korean history, as well as children and poor people, who, without his poems, would have vanished into oblivion.

Maninbo, as it is known in Korea, represents one of the major classics of 20th-century Korean Literature. It currently contains 4,001 poems in 30 volumes. Volumes 21–25, selected for translation here, feature many poems dedicated to the victims of the 1960 April Revolution.

Brother Anthony of Taizé, born in Britain, has been living in Korea since 1980. He taught English Literature at Sogang University (Seoul) for many years. He is now an Emeritus Professor there, as well as a Chair-Professor at Dankook University. He has published some 60 volumes of English translations of Korean poetry and fiction.

Lee Sang-Wha is an Emeritus Professor at Chung-Ang University. She has published six translations into Korean of literary works, including two of works by Gary Snyder. She has collaborated with Brother Anthony on several volumes of translations of work by Ko Un.

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