Essays

Hwang Sun-Won: Among His Peers and Pupils
Archive of “the people’s memories” Hwang Sun-Won’s writing encompasses sixty years of history, spanning events such as the occupation of Korea by Japan, liberation, and national division. Even if we were to discuss his works alone, from his debut in 1931 with the poem “My Dream” to his short story “Rain Shower” (1953), extending through to his last novel Dice of the Gods (1982) and his return to poetry with “On Death” (1992), his writing spans over sixty years. As a result, his writing is an archive of “the people’s memories,” (Yu Jongho) and constitutes such an enormous body of...
Scenes from Sonagi Village - Spring to Fall, 2015
Sonagi Village Sonagi Village has been visited by over 100,000 guests since its doors first opened on June 13th, 2009. After the author Hwang Sun-Won passed away on September 15th, 2000, professors of literature and Hwang’s former students sought to create a cultural space for the nation to be able to share Hwang’s literature with as many people as possible. It was then that they chose a particular line from “Rain Shower” (Sonagi): “The girl was to move to Yangpyeong-eup tomorrow.” In 2003, a partnership between Yangpyeong-gun and Kyung Hee University paved the way for the creation of Sonagi Village...
The Poetics of Resignation and Loving One’s Fate
Transformation and Idea Formation in the Poetry of Seo Jeong-ju An interesting feature of “Midang” Seo Jeong-ju’s poetry is his poetic transformation.Midang said himself that his study of literary expression was a process of being influenced by the poets who went before him and then trying to overcome their influence. Accordingly his poetry draws a kind of “poetic contour map,” creating a position for Midang as a literary heir to Korean poetry. There is more than meets the eye in this confession of the process of composing poetry as combining passion for original creativity and studying the poets who came...
Seo Jeong-ju’s Literary Peers
The oeuvre of “Midang” Seo Jeong-ju (1915-2000) constitutes the great mountain range of 20th century Korean literature: towering, vast, stretching powerfully into the distance. And, like many trees and plants living in the area, successive generations of poets grew up within its fold. In this respect, Seo Jeong-ju can be called the father of Korean poetry. His creative period lasted almost seventy years, and during this time, he released fifteen poetry collections and more than 1,000 poems. Now, a twenty-volume complete edition of his collected works will be published in commemoration of the centennial of his birth. Midang Seo Jeong-ju’s...
Midang Literary House and Events for the 100th Anniversary of Seo Jeong-ju’s Birth
Midang is the penname of the poet Seo Jeong-ju. It carries the meaning of “not yet fully grown” or a “wish to forever be a boy.” The Midang Literary House is located in the poet’s hometown of Jeollabuk-do Province, Gochang-gun, Buan-myeon, Seonun-ri. The positioning of the Literary House is quite special. There is a large mountain (Mt. Soyo) behind, the ocean (Byeonsan Beach) in front, the poet’s house of birth to the left, and his grave to the right. Even throughout the rest of the world, it is rare to find a poet’s life, death, and memorial all gathered 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...
Continuing the Legacy of Mogwol’s Lyric Poetry
P ak Mogwol was an active poet for forty years, from his debut in 1939 until his death in 1978, and during this time he was a great mentor who guided many poets along their intended path. These poets came together and founded an organization called the Mogwol Literature Forum. The Forum has organized various events to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Pak’s birth, and published a poetry collection, Lonesome Hunger , in memoriam. A total of forty poets contributed to Lonesome Hunger , and surveying the members of the group, we can see that they are the major representative...
Hearts Pay Tribute to “Big, Soft Hands”
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the birth of the poet Pak Mogwol. Pak Mogwol, whose given name was Yeong Jong-in, was born on January 6th, 1915. By way of a recommendation from Chong Chi-yong, he debuted in 1939 in the literary magazine Munjang . After his debut, Mogwol published in Cheongnokjib along with the poets Cho Chi-hun and Pak Tu-jin; together they became widely known as the “Cheongnokpa” (Green Deer Group) and were influential in guiding the path of Korean lyric poetry. There is no hesitation in calling Pak Mogwol our “National Poet” because so many of his...
Songs of Delight: Surpassing the Bounds of Our Lives
New creation in the arts is preceded by new perception and new discovery. This tendency is more pronounced in literature, which uses words as a means of expression, and all the more so in poetry, which derives its main force from the condensed use of words. In order for ordinary sentence structure to be sublimated to the level of art, a chemical transformation must take place owing to some new discovery. A poet takes various elements at hand, combines them organically, and lifts them to the province of new creation. In this respect, the process of poetic creation can be...
"As If Keen to Catch the Sound of the Night Rain"
“All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” Walter Pater is suggesting here that music is the only art form that is free from the dichotomy of form and content. In other words, music is pure art, free from the burden of representing or recreating the real world. The fact that the poet Hwang Tong-gyu originally wanted to be a composer is well known; and knowing about his interest in music might help us to better understand his poetic world. For poetry, unlike music, is a verbal art and cannot be free from the demands of representation or recreation,...

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