Interviews

A Giant of the Humanities in Korea: Literary Critic Kim Uchang
Kim Uchang has enormous influence and respect as a literary critic and thinker. In this interview, he discusses the state of Korean literature in translation and the condition of literature itself in today’s media saturated environment. Lee Kyung-ho: It’s so good to see you. It’s been a while. I heard that you were participating in the Tokyo International Book Fair this July. I understand you’ll be having a discussion on Korean Japanese philosophies with the renowned Japanese literary critic Karatani Kojin as part of the book fair. Karatani has expressed a keen interest in Korean literature, and created quite a...
A Seeker of Truth: Writer Choi Suchol
Writer Choi Suchol continues to challenge readers and keep them awake with his unconventional short stories and novels. Author Han Eun-hyeong sat down with Choi to talk about writing, love, and his readers. From Mind to Body, from Form to Story Han Eun-hyeong: How do you spend your time when you’re not working on a novel? Choi Suchol: Recently, I’ve taken a great interest in the “Alexander technique,” also known as “meditation of the body,” and have been studying and practicing it in my own way. I’ve also been playing table tennis whenever I can for several years, and plan...
A Modernist of Humor and Lyricism: Writer Jung Young Moon
The year 2012 could be called “the year of Jung Young Moon.” Jung received three major literary awards, one after another, for A Contrived World , published in 2011. A warm reception not enjoyed by the author throughout the publication of a dozen books since 1997 suddenly and belatedly washed over him. Of his works, the short story collections A Chain of Dark Tales and Pierrot on the Moon have been translated, the former into English and French and the latter into German, and A Most Ambiguous Sunday and An Afternoon of the Faun , also short story collections, are...
A Distinguished Man of Letters: Critic Kim Byong-ik
Prolific and influential, Kim Byong-ik has made his mark on every aspect of the literary world. Since his retirement, he has remained as engaged as ever reading every day and even staying in touch with changes in pop culture. Kim Dongshik: What I was the most concerned with as I prepared for this interview was how I should introduce you. You have been engaged in quite a variety of fields, as a journalist, publisher, professor, literary critic, translator, and cultural administrator, among others. I think I should introduce your profile for the readers of _list . You, Mr. Kim Byong-ik,...
Looking for Hidden Pictures in the City: Writer Kim Junghyuk
In Seoul, there’s a route that will let you get around without using a crosswalk, not even once. Little clues are carved here and there on the route. They are hidden pictures brought to light by Kim Junghyuk. Following the author’s map, you’ll come to encounter new places and people in the city. The author has made this possible through a unique mapping system. Yang Yun-eui : Your third collection of short stories, 1F/B1 ( First Floor, Basement Floor ) has been published. Could you tell me a little bit about this collection? Kim Junghyuk: The last story in The...
Between the Inside and the Outside Novelist Jeong Yi Hyun
Cha Mi-ryeong: It is so nice to see you. It’s been 10 years since you made your debut and you continue to publish. When did you first start writing fiction? Jeong Yi Hyun: It’s been 10 years since my literary debut, but I completed my first work of fiction not long before 2002. Several years after I graduated from college, I returned to school and studied creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. That’s when I started studying literature and writing seriously. Back then I wanted to be a poet. CM: That is surprising. I thought you were...
Eyes that Pierce into the Hinterland of Life Novelist Han Kang
On a bitterly cold day in Seoul, I met the novelist Han Kang, whose gaze made me forget about the cold outside. I had always wondered where within this calm and thoughtful person hid her grand and relentless narratives. Han Kang was born in Gwangju in 1970 and moved to Seoul when she was 11 years old. Right after graduating from university in 1993, she made her literary debut with a poem in the journal Literature and Society . She won a spring literary contest the following year for her short story, “Red Anchor,” marking her emergence as a fiction...
Rediscovering Korea’s Literary Giant: Novelist Yi Mun-yol
After 40 years of writing novels, Yi Mun-yol strikes with renewed urgency. Kwon Seong-woo: It's been a long time, Mr. Yi. Over 10 years ago, I accompanied your close friend Jang Chang-shik, Professor of Modern Japanese History at Dongduk Women's University, on a visit to your house in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. Today is the first time we've met since then, I think. How have you been? Yi Mun-yol: Well, I feel like in the old days my original designs went according to plan, but it doesn't happen so much nowadays.I was supposed to have finished my current project in March...
One Writer’s Life: Novelist Kim Insuk
Shim Jinkyung: You have been writing for nearly 30 years straight since your literary debut. But your image is still that of a young writer, and in fact, your works are considered alongside the works of young contemporary writers. What do you think about the way your works are appraised? Kim Insuk: I do make an effort to write like the younger writers. I debuted at 20, and debuting at such a young age can be a handicap. As a result, I’ve been treated as if I’m older than other writers my age. So I feel that if I don’t...
A Glorious Openness: Novelist Kim Won Il
While writing Closely Reading Kim Won Il , I said the following: "While 20th century Korean history was harsh, it was doubly so for author Kim Won Il. He directly experienced the pain of war and national division, yet he was able to withstand this through moral integrity, channeling his energy into artistic will. As a result, he was successful in his life and literary work, becoming a cultural giant in the process." War, in particular, drove Kim into even more severe privation. War can decisively and continuously change one's destiny. His boyhood dreams of being a painter were snatched...

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