Videos

"Song of Peace" by Hwang Tong-gyu
Song of Peace I’m told we are a puny race. Doors locked even in daytime, bathing our eyes with “Trust Drops,” we read light essays, hugging the stove. Dragging the anguish of no place to hide like a soldier with one or two chevrons on the arm, you travel the country from Kimhae to Hwachon,* winter fatigues hanging on you, a canteen flapping at your side. Wherever you turn, barbed wire, at every wire, a checkpoint. I do not understand this love, this smothering jealous love. I spread my gloved hands, palms up. Snow falling for some time now, a...
"Wind Burial 27" by Hwang Tong-gyu
Wind Burial 27 When I leave this world I'll take my two hands, two feet, and my mouth. I'll take my dim eyes, too, carefully covering them with my lids. But I'd rather leave my ears, Ears keen to catch the sound of late night rain As it gives its arm to autumn’s shoulder. Ears that know which autumn tree stands in rain Only by listening Will be left.
"Canzone Napoletana" by Hwang Tong-gyu
Canzone Napoletana Coming out of the lounge for retired professors, Failing to conclude the inconsequential debate on the death of literature (Hey, have I been kicking against empty air all my life?) I started the car and turned on the audio. The Canzone Napoletana sung by the old Tenor Stephano, On the Circular Road, suddenly my eyeballs are brimful with cherry blossoms. Opening the windows and driving slowly to pull up at the sidewalk, I accompany my humming with the songs. Thirty years ago, The azure-blue waves lapping against the Napoli seashore, When the aroma of orange flowers invaded my...
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...
Sunday Sukiyaki Restaurant by Bae Suah
Just when it seemed as though 20th century literature had exhausted the possibilities of choral narrative, along comes Bae Suah. In El Restaurante de Sukiyaki (The Sukiyaki Restaurant), the author, born in 1965, has invented a narrative machine that interweaves parallel stories in which the characters, their living conditions and economic difficulties in a hyper-competitive society, are relayed in a firm, objective, straightforward voice that sustains the novel. All the stories, under the gaze of the same narrator, focus on the clash between the institution of the family—parents and children or husbands and wives—and the materialism of society. Often these...

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