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Selected translations

A look back at our 2020 reading diary

Like many readers, we started the year with good intention of blitzing through the pile of new titles that were promised for the coming months, as well as making inroads into the backlog. And we genuinely got off to a good start with a string of fun K-thrillers, some of them new, some not: The … [Read More]

Where to start in Korean translated literature

Note: This article was written in early 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then, particularly in 2021, some fantastic translated fiction titles have appeared. We give a round-up of them here. Nevertheless, as of end December 2021 the top ten recommendations below still stand. I do, however, need to edit the choices for … [Read More]

Review: Bae Suah — Untold Night and Day

Bae Suah: Untold Night and Day Translated by Deborah Smith Jonathan Cape 2020, 152pp Originally published as 알려지지 않은 밤과 하루, Jaeumgwa Moeum, 2013 Let me say up-front that I have never regarded myself as a Bae Suah fan. My first encounter with her – Highway with Green Apples – registers in my memory as … [Read More]

On reading Han Kang’s White Book by the pool

In general, I tend not to read much literary fiction. If I’m reading stuff which is unrelated to Korea, it’s likely to be either non-fiction or easy reading – a detective story or something reasonably lightweight. When it comes to Korea-related reading, until relatively recently the balance has again been in favour of non-fiction. But … [Read More]

Book review: Bandi — The Accusation

Bandi: The Accusation – Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea Translated by Deborah Smith Serpents Tail 2017, 245 pp Originally published as 고발, Chogabje.com, 2014. Mike Breen, in his book The New Koreans, describes han as “a kind of rage and helplessness that is sublimated and lingers like an inactive resentment” and is often evidenced in … [Read More]

Event news: Deborah Smith on translating Bae Suah

Deborah Smith’s latest Bae Suah translation, Recitation, is now available in bookshops. This month you have the opportunity to hear some of the challenges of translating it, courtesy of SOAS’s Centre for Translation Studies: Close to a State of Linguistic Weightlessness: On Translating Bae Suah Dr Deborah Smith (Korean-English translator, Publisher/Editor at Tilted Axis Press) … [Read More]

Deborah Smith wins Literary Translation award.

Han Kang says she’s “amazing”. Deborah Levy says she’s “obviously a genius”. And now, congratulations to Deborah Smith for winning The Arts Foundation Literary Translation Award 2016. According to the TLS blog, the award comes with a £10,000 bursary which Deborah plans to use “to fund research into the Korean author Yi Chong-jun” (Your Paradise, … [Read More]

Book review: Han Kang — The Vegetarian

Han Kang: The Vegetarian Translated by Deborah Smith Portobello Books, 2015, 183pp Originally published as 채식주의자, Seoul 2007 Sometimes, reading translated Korean literature can be a bit of a private affair. You read it, you maybe enjoy it and appreciate it, but you think twice about recommending it to a non Koreaphile; or if you … [Read More]

KWK Talk: A Korean Literary Evening with Deborah Smith, 4 Aug

One of two discussions on aspects of contemporary Korean culture as part of Kingston Welcomes Korea – the other featuring Colette Balmain on the vengeful ghost in Korean movies. Deborah Smith’s translation credits include Han Kang’s The Vegetarian as well as Ahn Do-hyun’s fable mentioned below. The venue is New Malden Library – conveniently close … [Read More]

London Book Fair 2013 – an overview of the Korean publishing market and a brief meeting with Choe Yun and Jung Young-moon

London Book Fair 2014 will see Korea as the Market Focus Country. And in 2013 Korea was there to prepare the way. The Korea Publishers Association and the Literature Translation Institute of Korea jointly occupied a stall at the Earl’s Court exhibition, displaying among other things a wide range of translated Korean literature, including a … [Read More]