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Books on Literature

A work-in-progress listing. Titles are sorted in date of publication, most recent first.

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Language and Truth in North Korea
Sonia Ryang
University of Hawai'i Press, 2021

From the publisher’s website: In this innovative and persuasive volume, Sonia Ryang offers new ways to think about North Korea and how truth emerges over decades from within a dominant discourse. It explores four discrete yet mutually related domains of discourse: North Korea’s literary purge of the 1950s–1960s; its state-initiated linguistic reforms of the 1960s–1980s; […] (Link to online store)

South Korea’s Webtooniverse and the Digital Comic Revolution
Aegyung Shim, Brian Yecies
Rowman + Littlefield, 2021

From the publisher’s website: This book investigates the meteoric rise of mobile webtoons – also known as webcomics – and the dynamic relationships between serialised content, artists, agencies, platforms and applications, as well as the global readership associated with them. It offers an engaging discussion of webtoons themselves, and what makes this new media form […] (Link to online store)

Literature and Cultural Identity during the Korean War: Comparing North and South Korean Writing
Jerôme de Wit
Bloomsbury, 2021

Through an in-depth analysis of wartime essays and literary works, Literature and Cultural Identity during the Korean War considers the similarities and differences in the way that writers from both North and South Korea perceived and experienced the conflict. In this book, Jerôme de Wit examines the social impact of major themes in the output […] (Link to online store)

Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday
Ksenia Chizhova
Columbia University Press, 2021

From the publisher’s website: The lineage novel flourished in Korea from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth century. These vast works unfold genealogically, tracing the lives of several generations. New storylines, often written by different authors, follow the lives of the descendants of the original protagonists, offering encyclopedic accounts of domestic life cycles and […] (Link to online store)

The History of Modern Korean Fiction (1890-1945): The Topography of Literary Systems and Form
Kim Young-min tr Rachel Min Park
Lexington Books, 2021

From the publisher’s website: Young Min Kim – Translated by Rachel Min Park – Introduction by Theodore Jun Yoo – Afterword by Jooyeon Rhee This book explores the history of modern Korean literature from a sociocultural perspective. Rather than focusing solely on specific authors and their works, Young Min Kim argues that the development of […] (Link to online store)

Healing Historical Trauma in South Korean Film and Literature
Choi Chungmoo
Routledge, 2020

From the publisher’s website: Through South Korean filmic and literary texts, this book explores affect and ethics in the healing of historical trauma, as alternatives to the measures of transitional justice in want of national unity. Historians and legal practitioners who deal with transitional justice agree that the relationship between historiography and justice seeking is […] (Link to online store)

Imperial Romance: Fictions of Colonial Intimacy in Korea, 1905–1945
Su Yun Kim
Cornell East Asia Series, 2020

From the publisher’s website: In Imperial Romance, Su Yun Kim argues that the idea of colonial intimacy within the Japanese empire of the early twentieth century had a far broader and more popular influence on discourse makers, social leaders, and intellectuals than previously understood. Kim investigates representations of Korean-Japanese intimate and familial relationships—including romance, marriage, and […] (Link to online store)

The Korean Vernacular Story: Telling Tales of Contemporary Choson in Sinographic Writing
Park Sinae
Columbia University Press, 2020

As the political, economic, and cultural center of Choson Korea, eighteenth-century Seoul epitomized a society in flux: It was a bustling, worldly metropolis into which things and people from all over the country flowed. In this book, Si Nae Park examines how the culture of Choson Seoul gave rise to a new vernacular narrative form […] (Link to online store)

What Is Korean Literature?
Bruce Fulton, Youngmin Kwon
Univ of California Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies, 2020

Professor Kwon and Professor Fulton outline the major developments, characteristics, genres, and figures of the Korean literary tradition for students encountering that tradition for the first time and also for those ready to critically engage with it. The volume includes examples, in English translation, of each of the genres and works by several of the […]

Tales of the Strange by a Korean Confucian Monk: Kŭmo sinhwa by Kim Sisŭp
Dennis Wuerthner, Kim Si-seup tr Dennis Wuerthner
University of Hawai'i Press, 2020

One of the most important and celebrated works of premodern Korean prose fiction, Kŭmo sinhwa (New Tales of the Golden Turtle) is a collection of five tales of the strange artfully written in literary Chinese by Kim Sisŭp (1435–1493). Kim was a major intellectual and poet of the early Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1897), and this book […] (Link to online store)

The Novel in Transition: Gender and Literature in Early Colonial Korea
Jooyeon Rhee
Cornell East Asia Series, 2019

Having been marginalized from the literature-proper sphere of Confucian elite culture, the novel began to transform significantly at turn of the twentieth century in Korea. Selected novels in transformation that Jooyeon Rhee investigates in this book include both translated and creative historical novels, domestic novels, and crime novels, all of which were produced under the […] (Link to online store)

Revisiting Minjung: New Perspectives on the Cultural History of 1980s South Korea
Ed Sunyoung Park
University of Michigan Press, 2019

From the publisher’s website: An epoch-marking alliance of laborers, students, dissident intellectuals, and ordinary citizens was at the heart of South Korea’s transformation from a dictatorship into a vibrant democracy during the 1980s. Collectively known as the minjung (“the people”), these agents of Korean democratization historically carved out an expanded role for civil society in the country’s […] (Link to online store)

Invincible and Righteous Outlaw: The Korean Hero Hong Gildong in Literature, History, and Culture
Kang Minsoo
University of Hawai'i Press, 2018

One of the most important and popular premodern Korean novels, The Story of Hong Gildong is a fast-paced adventure story about the illegitimate son of a nobleman who becomes the leader of a band of honest outlaws who take from the rich and punish the corrupt. Despite the importance of the work to Korean culture […] (Link to online store)

Rewriting Revolution: Women, Sexuality, and Memory in North Korean Fiction
Immanuel Kim
University of Hawai'i Press, 2018

Publisher description: North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is firmly fixed in the Western imagination as a barbaric vestige of the Cold War, a “rogue” nation that refuses to abide by international norms. It is seen as belligerent and oppressive, a poor nation bent on depriving its citizens of their basic human […] (Link to online store)

Reading Colonial Korea through Fiction: The Ventriloquists
Kim Chul tr Yoon Hye-joon
Lexington Books, 2018

Publisher description: Reading Colonial Korea through Fiction is a compilation of thirteen original essays which was first serialized in a quarterly issued by the National Institute of Korean Language, Saekukŏsaenghwal (Living our National Language Anew) in a column entitled, “Our Fiction, Our Language” between 2004 to 2007. Although the original intent of the Institute was to elucidate on […] (Link to online store)

The History of Korean Literature: From Ancient Times to the Late Nineteenth Century
Jung Byung-sul, Jung Min, Ko Mi-sook tr Kil Cha, Michael J Pettid
LTI Korea, 2016

An easy to read, extensive exploration of premodern Korean literature. The work covers the beginning of Korean literature until the end of the nineteenth century and would be ideal for students in Korean or Asian literature classes. (Link to eBook / PDF / online text)

Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee’s Korea
Youngju Ryu
University of Hawai'i Press, 2015

In 1975, a young high school teacher took the stage at a prayer meeting in a southwestern Korean city to recite a poem called The Winter Republic. The poem became an anthem against the military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee and his successors; the poet, however, soon found himself in court and then in prison […] (Link to online store)

When the Future Disappears: The Modernist Imagination in Late Colonial Korea
Janet Poole
Columbia University Press, 2014

Publisher’s description: Taking a panoramic view of Korea’s dynamic literary production in the final decade of Japanese rule, When the Future Disappears locates the imprint of a new temporal sense in Korean modernism: the impression of time interrupted, with no promise of a future. As colonial subjects of an empire headed toward total war, Korean writers in […] (Link to online store)

Key Papers on Korea: Essays Celebrating 25 Years of the Centre of Korean Studies, SOAS, University of London
Ed Andrew David Jackson
Global Oriental, 2013

From the publisher’s website Key Papers on Korea is a commemorative collection of papers celebrating 25 years of the Centre of Korean Studies (CKS), SOAS, University of London that have been written by senior academics and emerging scholars. The subjects covered in this collection reflect the different research interests and different strengths of the CKS and […] (Link to online store)

Factory Girl Literature: Sexuality, Violence, and Representation in Industrializing Korea
Ruth Barraclough
University of California Press, 2012

From the publisher’s website: As millions of women and girls left country towns to generate Korea’s manufacturing boom, the factory girl emerged as an archetypal figure in twentieth-century popular culture. This book explores the factory girl in Korean literature from the 1920s to the 1990s, showing the complex ways in which she has embodied the […] (Link to online store)

Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom’s Frontier
Theodore Hughes
Columbia University Press, 2012

Publisher description: Korean writers and filmmakers crossed literary and visual cultures in multilayered ways under Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945). Taking advantage of new modes and media that emerged in the early twentieth century, these artists sought subtle strategies for representing the realities of colonialism and global modernity. Theodore Hughes begins by unpacking the relations among […] (Link to online store)

Reading North Korea: An Ethnological Inquiry
Sonia Ryang
Harvard, 2012
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Often depicted as one of the world’s most strictly isolationist and relentlessly authoritarian regimes, North Korea has remained terra incognita to foreign researchers as a site for anthropological fieldwork. Given the difficulty of gaining access to the country and its people, is it possible to examine the cultural logic and social dynamics of the Democratic […] (Link to online store)

Exploring North Korean Arts
Ed Rüdiger Frank
Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2011

Publisher description: This book is a cooperation between the MAK and the University of Vienna and contains a number of in-depth essays by international writers on a wide spectrum of issues, and with much detailed background information. The relationship between art and ideology is examined, how modern and traditional values are dealt with, as well as […] (Link to online store)

Mujong (The Heartless): Yi Kwang-Su and Modern Literature
Yi Kwang-su tr Ann Sung-Hi Lee
Cornell East Asia Series, 2011
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Yi Kwang-su (1892-1950) was one of the pioneers of modern Korean literature. When the serialization of Mujong (The Heartless) began in 1917, it was an immediate sensation, and it occupies a prominent place in the Korean literary canon. The Heartless is the story of a love triangle among three youths during the Japanese occupation. Yi […] (Link to online store)

My husband the poet
Mok Sun-ok tr Brother Anthony of Taizé
Seoul Selection, 2006

“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 […] (Link to online store)

Twentieth Century Korean Literature
Kim Mi-hyun, Lee Kwangho, Lee Namho, Wu Chan Je tr Youngju Ryu
Eastbridge, 2005

From the publisher’s website: This short volume offers essential information and a basic framework for understanding twentieth-century Korean literature. Growing out of a continuous tradition of over 2,000 years, twentieth-century Korean literature, termed “modern Korean Literature” by Korean scholars, has been shaped by profound social and political transformations on the peninsula. Those decades of great […] (Link to online store)

A History of Korean Literature
Ed Peter H Lee
Cambridge University Press, 2003

This comprehensive narrative history of Korean literature provides essential information for scholars and students as well as others. Combining history and criticism, the study reflects the latest scholarship and includes an account of the development of all genres. In 25 chapters, it covers twentieth-century poetry, fiction by women, and the literature of North Korea. It […] (Link to online store)

Remembering the Forgotten War: The Korean War Through Literature and Art
Ed Philip West and Suh Ji-moon
M.E. Sharpe, 2000
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From the publisher’s website: In contrast to the many books that use military, diplomatic, and historic language in analyzing the Korean War, this book takes a cultural approach that emphasizes the human dimension of the war, an approach that especially features Korean voices. There are chapters on Korean art on the war, translations into English […] (Link to online store) LKL Review

Trap of History: Understanding Korean Short Stories
Shin Jeong-hyun
Univ of California Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies, 1998

Excerpt from Questia: Culture is an emblem of a people’s self-recognition in their own world and of their achievement of freedom in it. It is a people’s cumulative reception and negation of the world in their history — negation in the Hegelian sense, that is, the changing of the world in accord with one’s own […] (Link to online store)

Understanding Korean Literature
Kim Hunggyu tr Robert J Fouser
M.E. Sharpe, 1997
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This study examines the development and characteristics of various historical and contemporary genres of Korean literature. It presents explanations on the development of Korean literacy and offers a history of literary criticism, traditional and modern, giving the discussion an historical context. (Link to online store) LKL Review

Han Sorya and North Korean Literature (+ Jackals)
Han Seol-ya tr Brian Myers
Cornell East Asia Series, 1994

This first and only study of North Korean literary history by a Western scholar deals with the crucial role played by Han Sōrya, chairman of the DPRK’s Federation of Literature and Art from 1948 to his purge in 1962, both in devising the iconography of Kim Il Sung’s personality cult and in defining the early […] (Link to online store)

The Korean Singer of Tales
Marshall R Pihl, Trad / anon tr Marshall R Pihl
Harvard, 1994
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Publisher description: P’ansori, the traditional oral narrative of Korea, is sung by a highly trained soloist to the accompaniment of complex drumming. The singer both narrates the story and dramatizes all the characters, male and female. Performances require as long as six hours and make extraordinary vocal demands. In the first book-length treatment in English […] (Link to online store)