Videos

"The Land of Mists" by Kim Kwang-Kyu
The Land of Mists In the land of mists, always shrouded in mist, nothing ever happens. And if something happens nothing can be seen because of the mist. For if you live in mist you get accustomed to mist so you do not try to see. Therefore in the land of mists you should not try to see. You have to hear things. For if you do not hear you cannot live, so ears keep growing bigger. People like rabbits with ears of white mist live in the land of mists.
"North South East West" by Kim Kwang-Kyu
North South East West In spring a flood of tender green goes rising, spreading northward, northward. Unhindered by barbed wire or military demarcation line it journeys north. Rising over mountains crossing plains, azaleas and forsythias cross the border north. In summer the cuckoo’s call, the croak of frogs, are just the same in every place. In fall a flood of golden hues comes dropping spreading southward, southward. Unhindered by demilitarized zone or lines forbidding access it journeys south. Crossing rivers passing over valleys cosmos flowers and crimson leaves cross the border south. In winter the taste of ice-cold pickle the...
"Spirit Mountain" by Kim Kwang-Kyu
Spirit Mountain In my childhood village home there was a mysterious mountain. It was called Spirit Mountain. No one had ever climbed it. By day, Spirit Mountain could not be seen. With thick mist shrouding its lower half and clouds that covered what rose above, we could only guess dimly where it lay. By night, too, Spirit Mountain could not be seen clearly. In the moonlight and starlight of bright cloudless nights its dark form might be glimpsed, yet it was impossible to tell its shape or its height. One day recently, seized with a sudden longing to see Spirit...
On Seeing Nothing of Worth by Jo Kyung Ran
I was twenty-five when I started college with the goal of studying literature. The usual age that Koreans get accepted to university is around eighteen or nineteen, after graduating high school. When I was that age, I failed my entrance exam. After that, since I didn’t have any particular skills, even finding a job was difficult. A bigger problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted, nor did I have a clue about what type of person I wanted to be. I wanted to find whatever it was that could answer these questions. So, from the age of nineteen...
On Seeing Nothing of Worth
I was twenty-five when I started college with the goal of studying literature. The usual age that Koreans get accepted to university is around eighteen or nineteen, after graduating high school. When I was that age, I failed my entrance exam. After that, since I didn’t have any particular skills, even finding a job was difficult. A bigger problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted, nor did I have a clue about what type of person I wanted to be. I wanted to find whatever it was that could answer these questions. So, from the age of nineteen...
The Vastness of Not Understanding
There are two ways to meet writers. One is to read their books first and make their acquaintance afterwards. The other is to meet them socially and then read their books. In both cases there is a slight disenchantment, a kind of disconnect. Either the book is better than the writer, or the writer appears to be a nice person who wrote a mediocre book. This happens because deep down we can’t really accept that books are written by normal people. What is “normal” anyway? Was Virginia Woolf normal? Or Flaubert? Or Goethe? Let me tell you about the one...
Writing About Special, Ordinary Lives by Cheon Myeong-kwan
I started writing fiction in my forties. Before then, I’d never nursed the hope or dream of becoming a writer. I had always thought literature was the realm of very special people. For a long time, writers occupied an exalted position in Korea. They were regarded as people gifted with great knowledge, lofty consciousness, profound insight and inspiration about the world, and so there was something mysterious about them. At least that was how I felt. Not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine someone ignorant and ordinary like me becoming a writer. Before turning to fiction, I worked...
Writing About Special, Ordinary Lives
I started writing fiction in my forties. Before then, I’d never nursed the hope or dream of becoming a writer. I had always thought literature was the realm of very special people. For a long time, writers occupied an exalted position in Korea. They were regarded as people gifted with great knowledge, lofty consciousness, profound insight and inspiration about the world, and so there was something mysterious about them. At least that was how I felt. Not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine someone ignorant and ordinary like me becoming a writer. Before turning to fiction, I worked...
An Author the Sum of His Characters
Would I recommend Cheon Myeong-kwan’s books? Of course. I’ve read all his books. That’s why I’d gladly recommend them. Each of his books is different. His short stories are different from one another and so are his novels. But if you were to ask me if his books all feel different then I’d have to say no. His books are all different and yet, they feel the same because he wrote them. Cheon’s a specialist. He’s a pro who manages to make distant, unrelated stories like Whale and The Turkey and the Running Laborer his own. He’s an unrelenting raconteur...
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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