Yoo Sungho

Songs of Life and Salvation: A Conversation with Poet Kim Nam Jo
I met poet Kim Nam Jo in her study in the picturesque environs of the Eocheon Lake Farm in Hwaseong City, Gyeonggi Province. It was an invaluable opportunity to listen to the poet share insights from her long and distinguished career. Poetry was at the heart of our conversation as Kim spoke with great candor and warmth about humanity and the world. Yoo Sungho : In a world of perpetual war and endless natural disasters, I believe it is all the more necessary that we as a generation think about literature and the arts in greater depth. First of all,...
Poetry as the Sublimation of Suffering
Shin Dalja is known for capturing her reflections on long-accumulated suffering and the will to overcome that suffering through her poetry. Her collection Passionate Love is the result of this determination, and is a confession of honest self-reflection towards the possibilities of living anew. Shin’s poetics are therefore a journey towards love and healing, but while she creates this record of inner wounds and longing, she also pays close attention to the specific and concrete in the lives of others. Such a worldview is faithfully adhered to and expanded upon in her recent collections Paper and Flowing Flesh . We...
Apocalyptic Literature and the Imagination of Disaster by Yoo Sungho
While apocalyptic literature has inspired the imaginations of writers since antiquity, there has perhaps never been a time more urgent than now to examine humanity’s ethical and moral response when faced with disaster. Korean writers too are exploring the prospect of hope and resistance when the world seems to be falling apart. In recent years as natural and social disasters have become more frequent and more severe, people are increasingly faced with moments where they must deal with and overcome catastrophe. The word “disaster” usually refers to unfortunate accidents or tragic incidents caused by the forces of nature. Here we...
Part Ⅲ. Extreme Lyricism Movement
Principles and Potential of Extreme Lyricism in Korean Poetry In the Korean literary scene lately there has been enthusiastic debate about what is known as “lyricism.” Such debate begins from critical reflection upon the way that the prominent concept of the lyric relies too heavily upon European aesthetics, which in turn, stems from the custom of a system of classification separating lyric, narrative, and drama. Indeed, theories of poetics throughout Korean literary circles all explain the principles of lyricism in similar ways: internalizing the external, lasting ephemerality, self-identity, or the abundant present tense. Therefore, while narrative explores the disconnect in...
Pak Mogwol, the Epitome of Pure Lyricism
Born in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province in 1915, Pak Mogwol first became well known for writing children’s poetry. In 1933, his poem “ Tong-ttak-ttak Tong-ttak-ttak ” was selected for a prize by the magazine Child , and in the same year another poem, “Welcoming the Swallows,” was awarded a prize by New Family magazine. Then in 1939 his work was recommended by Jeong Ji-yong and published in the September edition of Sentence , thus launching his career as a poet in earnest. From then onwards, Pak Mogwol made a place for himself in the history of modern Korean poetry as...
Graceful Hymns of Pious Love and Salvation On the Poems of Kim Nam Jo
Kim Nam Jo’s early poetry focused on honoring the invaluable nature of life. In Life (1953), her first poetry collection, Kim expressed her attachment to life by exploring various forms of human loss precipitated by war. Her affirmation of humanity, reverence for life, and the warmth of her poetry founded on spirituality have ensured her place in history as a great artist. Kim started writing poetry in her childhood, a time characterized by the absence of her mother tongue, the devastating aftermath of war, and severe deprivation. In such conditions, she reflected on the human condition, and realized a healing...
Rediscovering the Self Through Lyricism
Through the 1960s, Korean poetry pursued the creative integration of social consciousness and lyricism rather than traditional sentiments, based on the experiences of those who had lived through the April 19 Revolution. Such change could be seen in the leading poets such as Seo Jeong-ju, Kim Hyun-seung, Park Mok-wol, Kim Gwang-seop, Pak Tu-jin, and Cho Chi-hun. For example, Seo Jeong-ju built his own linguistic fortress with a unique mythical imagination and a mastery of the language while Kim Hyun-seung explored the existence of an individual who stands face to face with God. Park Mok-wol turned around from his nature-oriented imagination...