My fateful Korean adventure began in 2010, and I never would’ve dreamed back then that someday, I would be receiving a translation award.
I would not be here today if I hadn’t received a scholarship for foreign students given by the Korean government, which gave me the opportunity to live and study in Korea for the past three years. During this time, I fell in love with Korea’s culture, and naturally enough, with its literature. What has most attracted me to Korean literature has been the fact that it carries within it the very narrative and thoughts of the Korean people. It’s my belief that when Korean literature is at its most Korean, it’s at its most beautiful. This is the presumption most Korean literary translators work from, and it is also the core ideal behind the success of Korean literature overseas. But how do we go about realizing this ideal?
We literary translators must become great actors. We have to “act” what is written in another language in our native tongue, and to do this properly we must first and foremost listen closely to the voice of the source text and hear the voice we find there in our own translations.
In our work, we are faced with countless tasks such as these. What makes our job so difficult is that from an objective standpoint, Korean is, compared to European languages, much more complex and diffic...