Interviews

Salvation Through the Useless
Hae Yisoo: You were first published in 1994. When you were starting out, what did you believe literature could do for you? Seo Hajin: I was introverted and obsessive back then — to the point that I couldn’t fall asleep if my shoes weren’t neatly lined up in the foyer. But all that went away when I began to write. I did hesitate for a long time wondering whether someone like me, someone with little talent or experience, was worthy of being a writer. After hitting thirty as an avid reader, I got to thinking it was now or never...
Propping Up the Fallen Ladder of Education
Heo Hee: I’d like to discuss the issue of Korean education, which I believe is related to the “contemporariness” you often emphasize. Jeong Yi Hyun: It is. Contemporariness sounds like an objective concept, but its definition really depends on how one sees and understands the contemporary era. I see myself as a single camera capturing this era from my own perspective. Maybe my fiction resembles documentaries. Not that documentaries are completely objective, either. And of course, it is the author’s prerogative to select or edit as they see fit. Heo: There’s such a fever for education in Korea. It’s not...
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...
"From Displacement to Homecoming: A Writer Dreaming of the Hometown He Left Behind": A Q&A with Lee Ho-Cheol
Q: Your hometown is Wonsan in Hamgyeong Province, isn’t it? What was it like where you grew up? I was born into a middle-class farming family and grew up without any hardship. From the age of four I learned the Thousand-Character Classic from my grandfather, and until the age of seventeen I lived in Myeongsasimni just to the south of Wonsan. If you looked westward from our house there was a wonderful view out over Hwanghae Province. By the pass to Hwanghae was a big mountain and from near the top a beautiful stream came down. My short story “Big...
A Conversation with Ethan Nosowsky of Graywolf Press
Ethan Nosowsky, Editorial Director at Graywolf Press, visited Korea in June for the Seoul International Book Fair. Though small in size, Graywolf is widely known for its list of award-winning writers and experimental yet trendsetting works. It is set to publish its first Korean book, The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo, in 2017. Nosowsky shares his thoughts about Han’s book, about literature in translation, and about books that interest him. LTI Korea: What brought you to Seoul? Ethan Nosowsky: Graywolf is an enthusiastic publisher of translated literature, which occupies a significant portion of our list. And although we have...
Interview: 2016 Man Booker International Prize Winner Han Kang
What is life? What is death? Who am I? Writing means embracing these ever resilient questions as you move forward. Introduction Hello, I’m Han Kang and I write novels. It’s always a very special and amazing experience to meet my readers. Translation is such a singular process where a book is completely reborn, and I am so grateful to be able to meet you through this demanding and interesting process. Q. How did you become a writer? I was always reading as a child. We moved a lot, so I changed schools a lot, and I remember reading by myself...
An Evolving Realist, Dreaming of the Unity of Life and Literature
Hwang Sok-yong had already presided over an era of Korean literature with his outstanding works of realism published in the 1970s and 80s, then with his visit to North Korea in 1989 he broke through a barrier in the modern history of Korea itself, and the masterful novels which he wrote in the 2000s following his release from prison have been translated into many languages and published all over the world. He now stands among diverse friends at the very heart of world literature. He is not just one person but three or four. On the cusp of the New...
Leaving Behind the Self to Understand the Other
Autumn was in full swing as writer Oh Junghee and I strolled in the grounds of Sungkyunkwan University’s Myeongnyundang Lecture Hall. In that beautiful setting, amidst trees that were shedding their leaves in preparation for winter, Oh shared her candid thoughts in her soft voice. I felt her passion for literature burn bright on that afternoon. Lee Hye-kyung : When I think of you I always recall the time you and I were returning from an event in Washington DC. You treated me to a meal at Incheon Airport and later had the remaining food packed so you could take...
Freedom vs. Deliverance
Hwang Tong-gyu is one of Korea’s finest poets. He has been writing poetry for the past fifty-eight years since his debut in 1958. His poetry stands out both for its literary merit and popular appeal. The following is an interview conducted by literary critic and longtime researcher of Hwang’s poetry, Ha Eung-baek. A Poet’s Sense of Identity Ha Eung-baek : You have graduated from a department of English and studied abroad in Edinburgh. There are probably many poets in our country that studied English literature at university, but you went on to teach English Literature at Seoul National University and...
Cherishing the Language of Everyday Lives
Poet Kim Kwang-Kyu has been active in the Korean poetry scene for the last 40 years. We visited the poet at his home to hear his views on poetry and everyday life, poetic language and translation, and Korean and world literature. Ahn Seohyun: I’m excited to have this little tête-à-tête with you in your own yard — this beautiful space where your touch and easy going nature can be felt in every nook and cranny. I’m looking forward to asking you a few questions and sharing a conversation with you about your life and poetry in this beautiful setting that...

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