Interviews

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,...
Tumultuous Era, Songs of Violent Passions
Yi Mun-yol resides at the Buak Academy in Icheon, Gyeonggi-do Province, where the surroundings offer mesmerizing scenery with the changing colors of the autumn foliage. The interview was conducted in the author’s study and can be summarized into three themes: Yi Mun-yol’s views on the role of the novel; discussion about The In-between Periphery , his epic novel which was published in the middle of this year; and his personal thoughts on the globalization of Korean literature. Views On the Novel Hae Yisoo: You made your debut as a writer in 1977 and have been writing for 37 years. Has...
Ko Un, the Shaman of Lyric Poets
Park Hae-hyun: You published the poetry collection, Untitled , to commemorate the 55th anniversary of your debut. It is a collection of 539 untitled poems. What is the theme of this collection? Ko Un: The first draft of the collection was written when I was staying in Venice. I sometimes wrote 10 poems per night. The poetic meteor shower rained night and day. The reason I didn’t give any titles to the poems was because I suspected that poetry, which I consider to be the language of freedom and liberation, was being trapped in the titles. I wanted the poems...
Poet Meets Poet: Kim So Yeon and Dan Disney
Poet Kim So Yeon (Korea) and Dan Disney (Australia), participants of the 2014 Seoul International Writer’s Festival (SIWF), ask questions about each other’s poems. Kim So Yeon was born in 1967 in Gyeongju. She was educated at the Catholic University of Korea (BA, MA, Korean Literature). In 1993, she published her first poem "We Praise" in the quarterly Hyundae Poetry and Thought . She has published the poetry collections Pushed to the Limit, The Exhaustion of Stars Pulls the Night, Bones Called Tears, A Mathematician's Morning, and the essay collections Heart Dictionary, The World of Siot. She is the recipient...
The Journey of a Science Fiction Writer: Novelist Bok Geo-il
Bok Geo-il is widely considered to be a writer who has ushered in a new epoch in the Korean SF genre. Having made a spectacular debut with the novel In Search of an Epitaph , Bok has continued to expand the horizons of Korean SF by making use of distinctive literary devices such as time reversal or the reverse of history. Ko Doo Hyun: You debuted as a writer at age 41 with the novel In Search of an Epitaph published in 1987 after you quit a pretty decent job. At the time of your debut, you were an obscure...
The Man Who Loved Moebius: Novelist Choi Jae-hoon
Truth and falsity, fiction and reality, stories inside stories, and stories outside stories all meet and are reconstructed in Choi Jae-hoon’s work. It is both “stranger than fiction” and a smorgasbord of “too strange to be false”-reality, storytelling, and imagination that goes beyond even the wildest fiction. Suh Heewon, “To sleep is to die, and to dream” ∞ Prologue All types of love exist in the world. There are even people that are in love with shoes, stockings, corpses, and baseball bats. Love operates in mysterious ways, so it’s not surprising to meet a man in love with Moebius. Or...
Poetry or Letter To the Other of My Inside-Outside: Poet Kim Hyesoon
Shin Hyoung-cheol: You have published 10 volumes of poetry since your debut in 1979. Kim Hyesoon : I never look at my previously published books. Whenever I see my poems cited somewhere, I feel awkward and embarrassed. Shin: In something I came across published abroad, you are introduced as “a prominent woman poet who has received two awards named after poets Seo Jeong-ju and Kim Su-young, who are representative of pure poetry and engaged poetry, respectively.” I was thinking that it may come as a surprise to readers abroad that one poet alone could traverse and dismantle these two opposing...
Dear Reader, I Leave Us a Void, Let Us Fill It Together!: Writer Lee Kiho
Han Eun-hyeong: You’ve changed residences from Wonju to Seoul and then again from Seoul to Gwangju. Do you feel a great difference? For example, in your most recent short story collection Who Is Dr. Kim? , which you wrote while living in Gwangju, you didn’t just write “To Me, A Very Ethical Piece of Underwear” there, and you were actually thinking of leaving that short story out. Lee Kiho: I do really feel a difference. Since it’s a change of space, the people you meet are different, and even my writing seems to have changed. Whenever I publish a new...
Literary Critic Lee O Young
An exceptionally eminent scholar, writer, and critic, Lee O Young has lived through Korea’s tumultuous changes throughout his 80 years. Lee takes a look at his career and the cultural contributions he has made to understanding Korea and her neighboring countries, China and Japan. Kim Do-eon: You have devoted your life to varied creative pursuits, starting with your career as a literary critic, then novelist, poet, playwright, contemporary literature scholar, semiologist, Japanese culture scholar, opening and closing ceremonies director for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, as well as the first Minister of Culture, instrumental in implementing cultural policies. But your starting...
The Most Grotesque Is the Most Realistic: Novelist Chun Woon-young
Shin Hyoung-cheol: “The Needle,” (2000) your debut work, is still talked about today and cited as your major work. Is it because of the intensity of the first encounter, or is it because it's your best work in reality? Chun Woon-young: It could mean that “The Needle” really is a good piece of writing, or it could mean that in the 10 years since I wrote it, I haven’t been able to write anything that surpasses it. Either way, it’s like a fetter to me. What had built up inside me for 30 years came forth for the first time...

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