Korean literature in translation

A couple of new books to take with you on your summer break – or, more likely in respect of the first on the list, to adorn your coffee table when you return. First, fulsomely reviewed by Andrew Salmon in Asia Times, comes Inside North Korea by The Guardian‘s architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright […]

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Book review: Pyun Hye-young – Evening Proposal

by Philip Gowman 9 July 2018
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Pyun Hye-young: Evening Proposal Translated by Youngsuk Park and Gloria Cosgrove Smith Originally published as 저녁의 구애, Moonji Publishing, 2011 After the somewhat gory content of Pyun’s story Corpses – published in the Waxen Wings anthology – in which a woman’s body parts keep appearing, it was with some nervousness that I started reading Pyun’s An […]

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July Literature Night: Kim Young-ha’s I Hear Your Voice

by Events Editor 1 July 2018
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You probably won’t find a better-translated Korean novel than this one, courtesy of Krys Lee: July Literature Night: Kim Young-ha’s I Hear Your Voice 25 July, 19.00-21.00 Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK Entrance Free – Booking Essential. Apply to info@kccuk.org.uk or call 020 7004 2600 with your name and contact details by Thursday 12th July. […]

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Brief review: Jeong You-jeong – The Good Son

by Philip Gowman 14 June 2018
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Jeong You-jeong: The Good Son Translated by Kim Chi-young Little, Brown Book Group, 2018, 322pp Originally published as 종의 기원, Eunhaengnamu, 2016 A Good Son is one of the books being hailed as the new Scandi Noir, while Amazon is billing it as “The bestselling Korean thriller of the year” – though in a Korean genre that […]

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June Literature Night: A conversation with Kim Aeran

by Events Editor 8 June 2018
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June’s literature night is a special event: a discussion with Kim Aeran about the texts set for the recent essay contest, and the announcement of the winner. A discussion with author Kim Aeran Wednesday 27 June, 18:00-20:45 Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK Entrance Free – Booking Essential. Apply to info@kccuk.org.uk or call 020 7004 2600 […]

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Book review: Shin Kyung-sook – The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness

by Philip Gowman 16 May 2018
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Shin Kyung-sook: The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness Translated by Jung Ha-yun Pegasus Book, New York, 2015, 369pp Originally published as 외딴방, Munhakdongne, 1995 When reading Ahn Jung-hyo’s White Badge, I found myself wondering why, despite what I thought was my general antipathy to novels with listless central characters who can’t seem to find their way […]

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May Literature Night: Hwang Sok-yong’s The Old Garden

by Events Editor 5 May 2018
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Continuing the KCC’s season of screen adaptations of Korean novels. May Literature Night: Hwang Sok-yong’s The Old Garden 30 May 2018, 19.00-21.00 Venue: Korean Cultural Centre UK Entrance Free – Booking Essential. Apply to info@kccuk.org.uk or call 020 7004 2600 with your name and contact details by Thursday 10th May. The booking system utilises a […]

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Book Review: Ahn Jung-hyo – White Badge

by Philip Gowman 20 April 2018
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Ahn Jung-hyo: White Badge Soho Press, NY, 1989, 337pp Originally published as 하얀전쟁, 1983 Translated by the author If I saw Jeong Ji-young’s White Badge (1992) when it screened in London eight years ago, I do not remember it. I cannot imagine having a similar lapse of memory concerning Ahn Jung-hyo’s Vietnam war novel on […]

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April Literature Night: Silver Stallion with Ahn Jung-hyo

by Events Editor 30 March 2018
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Ahn Jung-hyo is in town not just to talk about his novel Silver Stallion but also his Vietnam War novel White Badge, which will be screened at the KCC later in the week. We reviewed Silver Stallion ten years ago but that won’t stop us reading it again. Literature Night: Ahn Jung-hyo’s Silver Stallion 25 […]

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Book review: Yi Kwang-su — The Soil

by Philip Gowman 26 March 2018
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Yi Kwang-su: The Soil Translated by Hwang Sun-ae and Horace Jeffrey Hodges Dalkey Archive, 2013, 512pp Originally published as 흙, 1932-3 Yi Kwang-su’s The Soil, at over 500 pages long, is not a book that immediately entices you to read it. But with a screening of Kim Ki-young’s adaptation of the novel coming up shortly […]

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Guardian suggests Korean thrillers are the new Scandi Noir

by Philip Gowman 5 March 2018
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It was not long ago that people were lamenting the absence of Korean genre fiction – such as crime and mystery stories – in translation. Well, apparently, things are changing. An article in Saturday’s Guardian talks about a “wave of interest in Korean thrillers” – highlighting the six-figure sum which bought Doubleday the right to […]

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Brother Anthony’s poetry talks in St Andrews and London

by Events Editor 1 March 2018
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Brother Anthony of Taizé, the noted – and prolific – translator of Korean literature and poetry, is coming to the UK in March and will be appearing at the StAnza International Poetry Festival in St Andrews on 10 March and giving two talks in London on 13 and 15 March. Details below: Past & Present […]

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March Literature Night: Hwang Sung-won’s Descendants of Cain

by Events Editor 24 February 2018
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March’s literature night at the KCC will feature Hwang Sun-won’s 1954 novel The Descendants of Cain, set in the bitter period between liberation and the start of the Korean War. LKL’s review can be found here. And don’t forget you only have until the end of March to submit your Kim Aeran essay. Korean Literature […]

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February literature night: Han Yujoo’s Impossible Fairy Tale

by Events Editor 26 January 2018
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Han Yujoo’s Impossible Fairy Tale is a book of two halves – the second more experimental than the first and I found it difficult to get to grips with. It definitely merits discussion. I wonder if I shall understand it any better at the end of the evening? The Impossible Fairytale by Han Yu-Joo 28 […]

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New and upcoming literature and fiction titles for 2018

by Philip Gowman 22 January 2018
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From classic Joseon dynasty ghost stories, via historical fiction set in the reign of Queen Min, to the latest in translated literature, we take a look at some of the books to look forward to in 2018. Our look at non-fiction titles can be found here. Contemporary Korean literature in translation Hwang Sok-yong’s novel At […]

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The Kim Aeran essay contest: so far, so good

by Philip Gowman 14 January 2018
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I struggled with previous KLTI Essay Contests. With There a Petal Silently Falls, having read it three times, I still couldn’t find an angle into it, and although I wrote an essay it was a pretty uninspired offering. With Who Ate Up all the Shinga, I probably enjoyed the book more, but again couldn’t really connect […]

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A look back at some of the books of 2017

by Philip Gowman 31 December 2017
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This year, I haven’t even come close to keeping up with the volume of newly-published literature in translation, let alone the plethora of new non-fiction. Perhaps to balance my feelings of guilt at falling behind the pace of new publications, I’ve tried to make inroads into my guilt pile in respect of previous years – […]

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