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INTERVIEW

[Dyad] The Correspondence — Janet Hong & Ha Seong-nan

  • onDecember 21, 2020
  • Vol.50 Winter 2020
  • byJanet Hong

 

 


 

1.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                      Ha Seong-nan

date:                  Tue, Mar 27, 2007, 4:26 AM

subject:             안녕하세요

 

Dear Ha Seong-nan seonsaeng-nim,

Please excuse me—I’m not very good at writing in Korean. I’m sorry it took me so long to reach out to you, but thank you for being so kind on the phone. I started speaking abruptly without even properly introducing myself, didn’t I? I thought you might feel more comfortable if you knew something about the person translating your book.

I was born in Incheon in 1980 but have lived in Seattle, USA, and Vancouver, Canada, since the age of two. I moved back to Korea for a bit when I was in the first grade, but then immigrated to Vancouver in the middle of the second grade. I lived in Korea for about four years in total.

I studied English literature and fine art history at the University of British Columbia. I first read your work in my sophomore year. I’d taken Dr. Ross King’s Korean class to improve my Korean, and the final project was to translate a Korean short story. The story Dr. King assigned to me wasn’t any fun. (I can’t even remember the author. -.-) At the time, my mother was reading your book 《옆집여자》 (The Woman Next Door) and enjoying it a lot. She said I should try my hand at translating the title story and so I did, with the professor’s blessings. He then recommended that I submit my manuscript to a translation competition held by the Korea Times. I didn’t even know such a contest existed! And, to my shock, I ended up winning the grand prize.

Since then, I’ve wanted to translate more of your stories because I feel your writing and style fit mine. I applied to LTI Korea and received a grant to translate five stories from the collection: 〈옆집여자〉 (“The Woman Next Door”), 〈곰팡이꽃〉 (“Flowers of Mold”), 〈깃발〉 (“Flag”), 〈올콩〉 (“Early Beans”), and 〈촛농날개〉 (“Waxen Wings”).

I’m so happy to meet you this way. I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer since I was a child. Translating your stories while I write my own is proving to be very helpful. I’m a bit particular so I don’t tend to do things halfway. I work through the translation line by line, going over it again and again. Maybe that’s why even when I write in English, my sentences sometimes sound like yours. Isn’t that funny?

If you don’t mind, I’d like to keep translating you for as long as I can.

감사합니다!

Janet Hong (홍지명)

PS: Please let me know if you couldn’t understand any parts of this email because of my Korean. I’ll write in English next time. :)

 



2.

From:                Ha Seong-nan

To:                    Janet Hong

Date:                Thu, Mar 29, 2007, 8:32 PM

Subject:            하성란입니다

 

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a bright sunny day in Seoul like today.

A few days back, though, the sky turned dark in the middle of the day and hail started pouring down. I went to pick up my daughter from school because she’d left her umbrella at home, but I ended up missing her. While I was scrambling to find her, she was on her way home, getting soaked in the rain... I’d wanted to see her smile when I showed up at her school with an umbrella.

I walked so briskly that day that my legs were sore for two days.

The thing is, I just had a baby. He’s a little over 40 days old now. This is one of the reasons I’ve been slow with everything, including replying to your email.

I received two emails from you so far. I was worried, because my Yahoo mail’s been acting up, but the email you sent to my Hanmail address showed up fine. I’ll read through your emails and respond next week. I’ll write if I have any questions. It’s been only a few times, but it’s always nice to hear from you.

Talk soon.

Best,

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 

 


 

3.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Fri, Sep 14, 2007, 4:27 AM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

Hello, Janet.

Fall has come to Seoul, and there’s a cool breeze in the mornings and evenings. Today, I put on some music by Buena Vista Social Club and was in a melancholic mood. Fall is quite strange, isn’t it? How is fall over there? Do you have fall there?

I met Dr. Lee Young-jun this Wednesday. He gave me the inaugural issue of Azalea. It was launch party for the magazine, you see. I wish you’d been there as well.

Dr. Lee likes your translation of 〈곰팡이꽃〉 (“Flowers of Mold”) a lot. My English isn’t great, but I’m slowly making my way through your translation. It doesn’t feel like my story anymore but something I co-wrote with you.

I really hope to meet you one day.

Please contact me when you’re in Seoul.

It would be nice if it’s fall then, too.

그럼 총총.

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

4.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Sep 14, 2007, 5:23 PM

subject:             Re: 하성란입니다

 

Dear Ha Seong-nan seonsaeng-nim,

How are you? I was just thinking of emailing you when your email came in. I’m so happy to hear you received your copy! I haven’t received mine yet.

I’m sure you do countless revisions of your manuscript. I also agonize over every word as I translate. To be honest, it takes me so long because I try to convey every line faithfully in English. It’s all the more difficult because your writing has so many levels of meanings. I think I know all your stories by heart now. But I mean to pick up my pace.

I don’t know if you remember but I once told you that having read so much of your writing, my own writing is starting to resemble yours. Strange, isn’t it?

I hope to find a good publisher for the book. I’ll do my best. I really want to meet you!

Janet Hong (홍지명)

PS: The more I translate your writing, the more I admire you. I want to translate you forever!

 


 

5.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Fri, Sep 26, 2008, 11:21 AM

subject:             Re: 〈당신의 백미러〉 (question)

 

하성란 선생님,

안녕하세요. 잘 지내셨어요? It’s been a while since we last talked. I’m sorry for not writing more often to update you. Actually, I recently got married during the summer and we moved across Canada to Toronto from Vancouver. So I’ve been very busy!

Currently, I’m translating your short story 〈당신의 백미러〉 for LTI Korea to be included in their anthology. I had a question I wanted to ask you.

미라보 (mirabo): Since there are several references to this name and the story ends with this word, I feel that this word is very important. But what is the significance of this name? Right now, I translated this as “Mirabeau.” Is this right? I’ve researched the name and there are various entries for it: a figure in the French revolution, a French economist, the name of a French bridge, etc. Could you explain why you chose this name? Maybe I’m not getting something...

Sincerely,

Janet Hong

 


 

6.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Sun, Sep 28, 2008, 9:28 PM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

First of all, congratulations on your marriage. Marriage is a new beginning. I’m cheering you on from afar.

In Korea, motels are sometimes named after places or bridges in other countries. In this story, Mirabeau is the name of a bridge. But it also alludes to revolution. The word Mirabeau is mentioned only in reference to the motel name.

I sent you a copy of my book Wafers. Did you get it? I’m currently serializing a novel. I’ll send you a copy when it comes out in book form…

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 

 


 

7.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Aug 8, 2011, 12:29 PM

subject:             Daesan Foundation Translation grant

 

Dear Ms. Ha,

Hello! I hope you’re having a nice summer so far.

I heard from the Daesan Foundation a few days ago and I’m happy to tell you that I received the grant! :) So for the upcoming year, I’ll be focusing my energies on translating Bluebeard’s First Wife. Thank you for sending in the consent form and I’m excited about translating more of your work!

I hope to meet with you in person in the near future!

Janet

 


 

8.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Aug 9, 2011, 7:02 PM

subject:            Re: Daesan Foundation Translation grant

 

Congratulations on winning the grant! I was happy all day as if I’d won it myself.

Summer in Seoul started off with rain, and it’s still raining sporadically. Wellington boots have become the must-have item for women this summer. Everywhere, you can see the letters HUNTER flashing from women’s legs.

I think we’ll be able to meet in the near future. The schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, but as you know, I may visit Canada through the support of the Korea Foundation. One of the reasons I agreed to the bilingual reading tour is so that I’d get to meet you.

I’m trying to wrap up my novel A so I can give it to you when we meet, but I’m not sure if the book will be ready by then. The theme of “disaster” keeps cropping up in Korean novels these days. I’ve been reflecting on life after witnessing and experiencing many different things. I’m also feeling grateful for this life.

I wish you good health and happiness.

In anticipation that we’ll meet soon,

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 

 


 

9.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Oct 15, 2011, 6:24 PM

subject:             하성란입니다

 

It’s been a long time since we’ve had autumn rain in Seoul. We had thunder and lightning all afternoon yesterday, and it was dark even during the day.

I got your email on the weekend. I was planning to write back after work on Monday once I’d read it carefully, but here I am, writing an email to you, sitting in the living room this Sunday morning while everyone is still asleep.

I’m already excited at the thought of meeting you. All the more because we’ve only exchanged emails and never met in person. I’ll be away from home for almost two weeks. I’m worried about my youngest, but if I think about Dr. Fulton’s passion and efforts, I want to go and do a good job.

Because of my laziness, the revised version of my novel A hasn’t come out yet. I should have finished it sooner, but I kept getting distracted for various reasons. I’ll bring you a copy of the original. There are some things I’m not entirely happy with, but I’d be glad if you read it. I’ve finished serializing the story 〈여우여자〉 online. The book version will come out sometime next year. I’ll send you a copy when it does.^^

I’ve decided to write slowly, earnestly, and without greed.

Have a restful weekend.

See you in November.

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

10.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Tue, Dec 6, 2011, 8:11 AM

subject:             Re: Question about 〈푸른수염의 첫번째 아내〉

 

Hello! How are you? :) I trust that you returned home safely. I’m sure you’ve been busy catching up to your work and getting settled back into the rhythm of things.

I had a quick question. I’m in the process of getting the “Bluebeard’s First Wife” story ready to submit to a translation contest. I was wondering how I should change the measurements for the 오동나무. How tall does an 오동나무 grow, if it’s been growing for about 30 years?

I’m also considering applying for a small translation grant for your novel A. I’ll use the first chapter of the novel as a sample. Are there any changes I should be aware of or can I just translate the chapter as it appears in the novel?

Hope this finds you well and it was so nice to meet you after all these years!

Janet

 


 

 


 

11.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Wed, Dec 7, 2011, 10:31 PM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

How are you, Janet? I still haven’t finished my short story, and I have a bad habit of postponing long responses until I finish the work in front of me. That’s why I kept putting off replying to your email.

It took me a while to get back to my daily routine after returning to Korea. The many different time zones and the busy schedule must have had something to do with it, but I think I was feeling tense. Still, I felt a little empty when the thing that felt like would never end actually came to an end.

I see your face in the photo the university sent me. A bright, strong face. In it I see the future of Korean literature in translation.^^ 잘 부탁드립니다.

I started reading Alice Munro’s book. I can see why you like her and why you say you see similarities in my writing.

I’ll write you again about 오동나무 once I finish my story.

I’ll keep you and your baby in my prayers.

Talk soon,

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 


 

12.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Thu, Feb 16, 2012, 12:26 PM

subject:             〈오, 아버지〉

 

안녕하세요 하성란 선생님!

Hello, how are you? I’m guessing you are keeping very busy as usual. :)

I’m trying to finish the translation of Bluebeard before the baby comes at the end of June. There’s not much time left! I’m working on 〈오, 아버지〉 right now, and I had a quick question:

In the second paragraph of the first page, when you write “The only complex I have was because of my father,” what exactly is the “only complex”? (For example, does she fear that she is not as smart/pretty/talented as 진이? Is that her deepest fear?)

Thank you!!

Janet

 


 

13.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Fri, Feb 17, 2012, 5:02 PM

subject:             Re: 〈오, 아버지〉

 

 So your baby is due at the end of June… I was born at the end of June too. I don’t know about the weather in Canada around that time, but in Seoul it starts getting hot around then. I’ll pray for the baby and you. As the delivery Date: nears, Korean mothers are advised to eat a lot of meat-based protein. What do they recommend in Canada?^^

〈오, 아버지〉 is largely autobiographical. It was published as part of an “autobiographical stories” series in a journal. The story doesn’t specify what the “only complex” is. (To keep the reader curious.) It’s not explained anywhere in the story. How about adding a sentence to the effect that the narrator hasn’t told anybody about the complex?

A new short story collection will come out at the end of April or early May. A story called 〈오후, 가로지르다〉 is included in it. I’ll send you a copy along with my first novel 《루빈의 술잔》. It’s quite a boring book. As far as I know, it’s gone out of print now.

I’ll talk to you soon.

I sometimes think of your dark eyes, Jeemyung sshi.

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 

 

 


 

14.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, May 20, 2013, 6:31 PM

subject:             하성란입니다^^

 

It’s been so long. I’ve been curious how you were getting on and I’ve been thinking about you. She must have had the baby by now. The baby must have started walking by now. Still, I couldn’t write you. The past year for me has gone by so quickly. I’ll tell you the reason when we meet next time.

Baby S looks so cute in the picture you sent me. I pictured your fiancé’s face whom I’ve met only once. And your face as you chase S around. A smile came to my lips automatically.

Do you remember the wallet you gave me in the States? It’s become an essential item for me. Is it too much if I say it makes me feel like you’re with me? ㅎㅎ

Your work pace must have slowed down because of the baby. But I’m sure you’re cherishing this time. I’ll pray for your family’s peace and happiness.

See you soon,

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 


 

15.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 6:36 PM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

Ah... I’m so sad to hear what happened. I wish I had the proper words to comfort you.

I realized it’s been a while since we spoke. I’m sorry for not keeping in touch more regularly.

I can imagine how busy you must be translating Han Yujoo’s book. Writers in Korea say this at such times: 건강 건필! Janet sshi, good health and good writing!!!

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

16.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Apr 8, 2014, 3:26 PM

subject:             Re: 하성란입니다        

 

Dear 선생님,

Thank you for your kind words. I know you mentioned a few times that 《루빈의 술잔》 is no longer in print, but I would still love to read it! :) I’ve only heard GREAT things about your first collection. Whenever I like a writer, I always read their first works to see how they began.

I’ve attached my revised translation of “The Star-shaped Stain.” Because I needed to bring down the word count, I had to abridge it. I hope you don’t mind. Now it’s sitting at under 6000 words, which is short enough to submit to a journal I had in mind. (The max word count was 6000 words). I cut the beginning and started a few pages into the story. Instead of adding any new sentences, I basically played around with your sentences and placed some of the sentences I had removed to later parts of the story in order to build context. If you have any questions or concerns about what I have done, please let me know and I can explain or change it.

By the way, have you read more of Alice Munro? I was so very happy when she won the Nobel Prize, but at the same time, it was a little sad, because she was always MY special writer and now I feel like I have to share her with everyone else.

Yours,

Janet

 


 

 

 


 

17.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Thu, Nov 19, 2015, 6:18 PM

subject:             하성란입니다

 

Dear Janet whom I miss so much...

I see lots of congratulations are in order.

Congratulations on getting a pretty little baby daughter. How lucky you are to have both a son and daughter. How you must dote on her. It’ll be her first birthday soon. I’m curious who she resembles. Send me a picture.^^

If I read your email correctly, you’re writing a novel, am I right? I know you dream of becoming a writer. Reading a full-length book in English will be a lot harder than reading short emails, but I really want to read your novel. Just like you read mine with such affection.

I look forward to a great book!!! I’m really looking forward to it.

Oh and congrats on the publication of 〈기쁘다 구주 오셨네〉. My next book, 《여우여자》, is set to be published next summer. There are so many things to celebrate…

Translating and writing with two babies. I can guess what sort of time the past year has been for you. Time will pass more and more quickly. I’ll write you more often.

Peace and love to you and yours...

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

 


 

18.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                  Sat, Oct 22, 2016, 5:00 PM

sub:                    Re: 선생님

                                        

I’m so glad to hear that you’re writing. And to think Madeleine Thien is helping you. (I really hope she wins the Man Booker Prize!!!^^) It was your dream to write a novel, even more than translating, right? Still, I hope you’ll keep on translating good books and make them widely known. :)

I’ve started serializing a novel, but I’m struggling and am at a loss. I think I need to straighten myself out and prepare for the next ten years. I’m not good at time management. I’ve realized too late that it won’t do to keep working like this.

I can’t wait to read your story about the haenyeo. It sounds like a fresh unconventional story.

A close friend of mine has moved to Canada with her two children. Now it’s Janet’s Canada and her Canada. Maybe Canada isn’t that far away after all. I’d like to fly there and meet you and your two children.

건강, 건필이에요!!! 재닛!!!

Good health and good writing to you!!

XOXO

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

19.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                  Sun, Oct 23, 2016, 10:17 PM

subject:             Re: Re: 선생님

                                       

선생님,

It is SO good to hear from you. And not to worry—I plan to continue translating for as long as I’m writing. I feel that translation makes me a better writer, so I would never give this up. And I plan to translate YOU for as long as possible—you were my first love in Korean literature—the reason why I got into translating in the first place—so I don’t plan to stop translating you. As I’ve told you numerous times, I am your biggest fan. :)

Yes, I remember you telling me that you had started a serial novel recently. I know you have the answer inside you—I’m sure it’ll just come to you as you’re showering or brushing your teeth. :) You can do it!! I believe in you!!

In your story 〈오, 아버지〉, I love especially the ending. The fact that it is SHE (the narrator) who manages to find where her father has been leading his double life, even how she stands there blocking the source of light that’s flowing into the house... it’s a subtle yet wonderful statement of her power, that moment when she realizes the power that she carries... and also of her standing her ground, laying claim to what she feels is rightfully hers. This image of her standing in the doorway (= threshold) is so symbolic, it’s something that can get unpacked more and more, just like the rest of the story. It’s really amazing all the complexities the story speaks on about the sense of ownership we feel over the people we love... I love it!

Keep writing and don’t despair!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

20.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Wed, Jan 18, 2017, 3:06 PM

subject:             저 푸른 초원 위에

 

선생님!

How are you?

I just wanted to let you know that today, I took out your story again and read 〈저 푸른 초원 위에〉. What an incredible, chilling piece of work! I remember I had liked it when I’d read it before, but for some reason, I don’t remember it being this sinister, cruel and menacing. It made such a deep impression on me today that it’s hard to shake it off. Maybe I wasn’t ready for it before and had a lot of growing up to do!

I think I’m going to translate this next, but I had a few questions (mostly out of curiosity, just for me):

1. Why isn’t the child in school? The story says that the child is seven years old - then shouldn’t he be in elementary school?

2. I know the ending is open-ended, but in your mind, what happens to the child? Who is this 누나/woman with the curly hair? (Of course I won’t put this in the translation, but I’m just so curious!)

After this I think I will work on 〈개망초〉 and 〈고요한 밤〉.

선생님께 늘 미안한 마음이에요. Translator 잘 만났으면 선생님의 글을 이미 널리 알렸을텐데... I’m sorry! But I’ll try my best this year.

In awe of your work,

Janet

 


 

21.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 9:52 PM

subject:             Re: 저 푸른 초원 위에             

 

It’s snowing here in Korea, and the temperature has dipped below minus 10 degrees Celsius for the past few days.

I read 저 푸른 초원 위에 again after a long time. I don’t think I can write like that anymore.^^

To answer you questions:

1. We calculate age a little differently in Korea. Seven years in Korea would mean six in western age. You have to be eight in Korean age to enter elementary school.

2. The nuna the child talks about is a mysterious character. At first, the mother thinks she’s just an imaginary friend, but she discovers the woman’s face in her son’s picture only after he goes missing and realizes she’s the one he called nuna. The story stops right there…

I’ll wait for your novel. I’ll work hard on my writing too so that I can send you a good book. Good health and good writing to us both!!!

 


 

 

 


 

22.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 May 10, 2017, 2:57 PM

sub:                    Open Letter     

 

선생님!

How are you? I just heard from Open Letter today and they tell me that they are planning to make an offer for the 《옆집 여자》 collection. If the Korean publisher and you find this situation agreeable, 《옆집 여자》 will finally be published in the US!!!

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me. You can have the publisher contact me as well.

Anyway, this is great news! I’m so happy that this is finally happening!!!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

23.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 May 10, 2017, 5:15 PM

sub:                    Re: Open Letter

 

Janet!!! Congratulations!!!

I read your email before going to work and got a little excited. I’m not the type to easily get excited, but most of all, I was moved when I thought that all your hard work is finally bearing fruit.

I don’t have an agent, so I’ll do what you suggest for the English edition. That is, as long as the Korean publisher is okay with it.

And now I’m feeling a little greedy. I’m wondering if English readers might like my novel A, which I’m currently revising. As I already mentioned, I’m planning to have a new edition come out with a different publisher next year once the current contract ends. If you’re interested, I’ll send you the manuscript once I finish revising it.

Once again, congratulations and thanks for everything.^^

Seong-nan

 


 

 


 

24.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Sat, Sep 23, 2017, 4:42 AM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

Janet, Korea is going through a big change right now. The situation isn’t that unstable, but certain media outlets are trying to create an atmosphere of anxiety, but the majority of the people are calm.

A few days ago Korean Literature Now magazine sought permission to carry an excerpt from “Early Beans,” so I reread the story again after a really long time. As I read it, I could feel how dated it was. But I have no worries since it’ll appear in your translation.

I’ve realized again that it’s not easy to take an interest in Korean literature and to translate it. We’ve waited a long time, but now that the book is set to come out, the publication date feels too far away! Not only that, you’re fighting a lone battle to have another book of mine published. I want to convey my gratitude to you again.

When the book comes out, let’s celebrate!

Wishing you peace like a river...

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

25.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Fri, Sep 29, 2017, 5:20 AM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

Janet, I got your letter this evening. Was it back in 2001? I can’t believe it!!! How old were you then? How old was I? I’m so happy that we’re able to have such a great outcome after a long wait. You said you were sorry, but it isn’t your fault. It’s the pain of not speaking a mainstream language.

In that long stretch of time, thanks to your efforts, as well as the efforts of other translators, Korean literature is gradually becoming known. This is all because of you and your unwavering interest in my writing.

I’m reading your words closely. Will we be able to meet soon? I’m looking forward to that day. We’re set to start a long ten-day vacation for Chuseok. A big full moon rises on Chuseok. Do you remember the full moon in Korea?

I hope you and your loved ones will be able to enjoy the days of full moon...

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

26.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                  Fri, Sep 29, 2017, 5:28 AM

subject:            하성란입니다

 

Oh, I was so thrilled to receive your letter that I forgot to thank you for the gift.

I like Moleskine. Whenever a thought strikes me, I’ll jot it down in the notebook. Thank you.^^

I still haven’t used the handmade notebook you gave me a while back. It’s too precious.^^

Ha Seong-nan

 


 

27.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                      Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 9:42 PM

subject:             “울콩”

 

Janet!!! Yesterday, I received a copy of the Korean Literature Now magazine with your translation of “Early Beans.” The magazine has an excerpt from the story and the full text can be viewed on their website.^^ It felt strange to read a story that I wrote a long time ago. ㅎㅎ You did a great job.

I heard from the Korean publisher that Open Letter sent them the advance. I guess we’ll be able to see the book soon. Have you received your translation fee? That’s what I’m most curious about, since you did most of the work.

I wish you peaceful days together with your kids. I miss you a lot. I hope I can see your face again soon.

Seong-nan...

 


 

28.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 3:36 PM

subject:             Korea

 

선생님!

How are you? I hope you’ve been well.

I wanted to share that I will be in Korea in December to attend a translation award ceremony.

I know you’re busy, but I would LOVE to meet with you while I’m there—for dinner, drinks, anything! 선생님하고 많은 얘기를 나누고 싶어요! What’s your schedule like?

I’m flying into Korea earlier, but will be spending some time with family, so I’m available Dec 9-13, except the 11th. I plan to go to 우도 after the 13th for a few days to do research for my 해녀 novel and I leave Korea on the 18th. Do you know anyone in Udo by any chance? Do you want to join me? ㅋㅋㅋ

I haven’t been to Korea in nearly 20 years, so I’m a little scared... but 우도 직접 가고 싶었는데, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go.

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

29.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 5:52 PM

subject:             Re: Korea

 

Congratulations!!!

I’ll leave December 9th to 13th free for you. Let’s meet whenever you have time.

I want to go to Udo Island with you, but I will start serializing a piece from mid-December. It doesn’t have to be very long, but I’m feeling a little nervous.

I’m looking forward to your story about the haenyeo. Korea has changed a lot but you’ll be fine.

Let’s meet and talk till the cows come home.^^

I’m so happy you’ve won an award—you’ve worked so hard.

Seong-nan

 


 

30.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Sun Dec 31, 2017, 03:54:42초 +0900

subject:             Happy New Year!

 

선생님,

Happy New Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

It was so nice to see you in Korea. Thank you for dinner - I felt bad. I should have been the one to treat you... you must let me treat you next time!

Ever since I came back, I’ve been working on your 《옆집 여자》 collection, since I’ll need to submit the complete manuscript to Open Letter in April. I translated many of the stories a long time ago, so I’m re-editing everything again. Ah, 선생님. I love your work!!

I’m also planning to finish the Bluebeard collection in 2018. And please send me your new novels when you can! Here’s to all things good in the New Year!

Wishing you and your family much favour and happiness in 2018!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

31.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 5:42 AM

subject:             Re: Happy New Year!

 

You must be tired because of jet lag. I’m curious how your research on Udo went. I’m looking forward to your sad and beautiful novel.

Reading your ambitious New Year’s plans makes me feel like I shouldn’t be idle either. I’ll try to write better books.

I hope we get to see each other more often now.

I pray for the most important thing in the coming year, health and peace for you, your husband and two children. And then for your novel. And once you come out with your next book, and next book... then you can stop translating me.^^

Here’s to our good health and good writing!!!

Wishing you a great year ahead!!!

Seong-nan

 


 

32.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Sat, Mar 17, 2018, 10:39 PM

subject:             Questions         

 

선생님,

바쁘신데 계속 연락해서 죄송해요! 다른게 아니고 제가 〈푸른 수염의 첫번째 아내”의 소개 글을 써야 되는데요... I had some questions I wanted to ask you that would help me greatly.

I remember you told me a long time ago that you had never been to New Zealand, but you wrote the whole story from research, which I still find so surprising. :)

1. What inspired you to write this story? Was there an incident or piece of news that sparked the idea for this story?

2. Why did you choose the Bluebeard folktale to tell your story? (왜 Bluebeard 이야기 대에서 호감을 갖았어요?)

3. Why did you choose New Zealand as your setting?

4. Why did you choose to bring in a homosexual aspect to the story?

5. I feel there’s a special reason why this particular story was chosen as the 책 제목. Why?

It’s not an interview—I’d just like some background information on the story, that’s all.

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

33.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Mar 19, 2018, 6:59 PM

subject:            Re: Questions

 

1. I’ve been fascinated with Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard” since childhood. Bluebeard’s wives are killed for failing to keep their promise with him—the promise that they will never open the door to a particular room. The wives should have kept their promise, but they give in to their curiosity and open the door. I thought I would put my own spin on this story one day.

2. So I couldn’t help but have these questions. The bodies of Bluebeard’s wives were hung in the forbidden room, but why did his first wife have to die? Was there another secret to the room? If the first wife ignored Bluebeard’s warning and entered the room, what would she have witnessed there? I thought my story would start from here.

3. At the time when I wrote this story, New Zealand was a popular tourist destination among Koreans and many Koreans also went to study there. New Zealand and Korea have opposite seasonal cycles, so when it was winter here, it was summer there. It was a place that I was familiar with but had never been to. It was fun to spread open a map of New Zealand and imagine this street and that. Due to the story setting, I had to keep the female protagonist relatively far from Korea, and New Zealand came to mind quite naturally. (And yet I made a mistake with the time difference. I think you caught the mistake, right?)

4. I was very interested in queer issues. I’ve covered them in another story titled 〈당신의 백미러〉. When I wrote “Bluebeard’s First Wife” the prejudice against LGBT people was much more severe than it is now. The character Jason in the story isn’t accept even by his own family. Jason’s parents are afraid of what other people will say, so they force Jason into a sham marriage. I wanted to write about the fears of those who can’t be open about their sexual orientation and about the social prejudice against them.

5. The book title is often not decided by the author. The editors must have thought it was a title that would draw the interest of readers. Come to think of it, compared to my other collections, the stories in this collection are more experimental. In the end, I think the question that “Bluebeard’s First Wife” asks—what is a story and how is it sparked—is a theme that runs through the entire collection.

 


 

34.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 11:35 AM

subject:             “악몽”

 

선생님,

I have some good news - I will be receiving the LTI Korea Translation Award this year, so I’ll be in Korea in the beginning of December. If you have time, I would love to see you and it’s my turn to treat you! I’ll let you know when I finalize my travel plans.

We’re currently doing the final edits for the 《옆집 여자》 manuscript, and I had a question about 〈악몽〉.

On P78, it says: “싸움을 말리는 사람은 없었다. 가끔 술 취한 사람들이 가게에서 나와 여종업원의 어깨에 팔을 두르고 어두운 골목으로 사라졌다.”

I was a little confused about this part. Are the 여종업원 here the same female workers who are fighting outside on the street? If so, are the men putting their arms around them and then disappearing with them into an alley?

OR are these 여종업원 different female workers that the drunk men came out with?

It’s a minor detail, but I was a little confused. Thank you, 선생님!

Love,

Janet

 


 

35.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 5:53 PM

subject:            Re: 〈악몽〉

 

Janet!!! Congratulations. ㅎㅎㅎ It’s a different award from the one your received last year, right? Your hard work through the years are bearing fruit now. I won’t make any plans for the month of December and will leave my schedule open for you. I’m fine with any day. Congratulations once again.

여종업원 is a polite expression for the women who work at the bar. Two of them are fighting over customers. I think it’ll be better to change “drunk people” to “drunk men.” There are a lot of bars, and drunk men come out with their arms around the shoulders of other waitresses and they disappear into the dark alleys. They’re all different waitresses.

My novel 《여우여자》 will be published next summer. I have to submit the manuscript to the publisher by April 30. I’ll send it to you once it’s edited. It’s the story of a 500-year-old gumiho set in the present age.

 


 

36.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 8:29 PM

subject:             Re: Re: 〈악몽〉             

 

Thank you, 선생님! 예, 다른 상이에요. :)

I understand about the 여종업원. Thank you!

- 한가지 질문 더 있어요! P85-86: “여자는 침대 아래에 숨겨두었던 삽자루로 사내의 머리를 내리쳤다.”

Is this 삽자루 big or small? Is it like a trowel or more like a spade/shovel?

Thank you for everything and talk soon?

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

37.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 9:19 PM

subject:            Re: Re: Re: 〈악몽〉

 

It’s a 삽 used for digging. The dictionary has it as “spade” or “shovel” but I don’t know the exact difference between the two. It’s something you use to dig holes in a storeroom and is small enough to be used by one person.

 


 

38.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 9:27 PM

subject:             Re: Re: Re: Re: 〈악몽〉            

 

I see! There are so many kinds of shovel/spade in English that are big and small, so I wanted to make sure. Thank you!

 


 

39.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 4:28 AM

subject:             Re

 

Happy New Year, Janet!

The cover of Flowers of Mold is gorgeous.^^

I think the English spelling of my name should be Ha Seong-nan, like you said.

In Korea, there’s no universal style for English names. I think it’ll be nice if we can systemize it gradually.

Thanks for all your hard work, Janet.^^

Talk soon.

May your home be peaceful and happy in the New Year.

Seong-nan...

 


 

40.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 10:41 AM

subject:            New York Times sneak preview

 

선생님,

Flowers of Mold (옆집 여자) is included in the New York Times sneak preview of books coming out in 2019 from around the world!!! (Click on ASIA to see.)

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/19/books/new-books-international.html

Also, the back cover has blurbs by Susan Choi (Korean-American writer), Brain Evenson, and Nazanine Hozar (my friend!!).

Madeleine Thien might write one for the press release, too, if she can read in time.

How’s your novel going??

XO,

Janet

 


 

41.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 5:31 PM

subject:             Re: New York Times sneak preview

 

Yay!!! ㅎㅎㅎ

This amazing news is all thanks to you, Janet.

I think your translation is even better than my novel!!!

Thank you!!!

Have a nice warm day.^^

Seong-nan

 


 

42.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 4:13 PM

subject:            FOM on bestseller list!

 

선생님, FOM is on the Powells bookstore bestseller list!!!

 

 


 

43.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 5:05 PM

subject:             Re: FOM on bestseller list!

 

Janet, it’s been a while since my book has been displayed like this. The last time was probably when 《삿뽀로 여인숙》 came out.

See you soon in Seoul.

I want to see your children too.^^

 


 

44.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 10:01 AM

subject:            Visiting Korea

 

선생님!

How are you?? I hope you’ve been well!

I’ll be arriving in Korea on Oct 7. :) I plan to attend a few SIWF events that week, one featuring Han Yujoo and one featuring Bae Suah, which Ms. Kang Young-sook will be moderating. Are you planning to attend any events? If so, maybe we could meet there?

As for our proper meeting, are you available on Monday, Oct 14 early evening? Would it be all right if we meet together with Ms. Kang? Somewhere around my hotel would be nice - maybe we could walk over to 익선동? I’m easy - whatever you choose is good for me :)

Ms. Kang also told me about a class you’re teaching at 문지문화원 사이. I hope it won’t make you feel uncomfortable, but would it be okay if I “audit” your creative writing workshop on Oct 17 @7 @ 문지문화원 사이? You can just pretend I’m not there. I’ve never sat in on a creative writing workshop taught in Korean and I would love to just sit and listen.

I’ve been busy trying to finish some last-minute things before I leave—getting excited to see you!!

XO,

Janet

 


 

45.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 7:52 PM

subject:            Re: Visiting Korea

 

Janet, October 14 sounds good. Please bring out your family.

I’ll book a restaurant with food the children can enjoy as well.

Ikseon-dong is a very trendy place. They have clusters of small hanok there.

Let’s meet together with Kang Young-sook.^^

Have a safe flight.

Seong-nan

 


 

46.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 10:55 PM

subject:            Re: Re: Visiting Korea

                         

Janet, please be sure to bring your kids! I want to say hello to your husband, too. We met before, a long time ago.

As for the workshop, I recommend that you attend Kang Young-sook’s workshop, rather than mine! My workshop is too long and there are a lot of people, so it’s a bit chaotic. But more than that, I feel a little shy.^^;;;

 


 

 


 

47.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Thu, Nov 7, 2019, 10:46 AM

subject:             Questions about 〈파리〉            

 

Hello 선생님,

I have a few small questions from 〈파리〉. 대충 대답 하셔도 되요, since they’re just for me. ^^

p. 70:

“한낮에도 거리는 텅 비어 있었다. 가끔 찻잔과 보온병을 싼 보자기를 든 여종업원들이 느릿느릿 걸어다녔다 ... 사내가 세들어 살고 있는 청봉 부락에서 지서까지의 길도 자갈밭이었다 ... 하루이틀 지나면서 자갈밭을 걷는 것도 이력이 났다. 종아리에 근력이 붙었다.”

1. 이 텅 빈 “거리”와 자갈길이 똑같은 길이에요?

2. 이 수많은 자갈들이 뭘 상징해요?

If you could send along these answers with the “Bluebeard” ones, that would be great. Thank you, 선생님! Talk to you soon!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

48.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Thu, Nov 7, 2019, 8:41 PM

subject:             Questions about 〈파리〉            

 

선생님, 죄송해요. I have one more question about 〈파리〉.

On page 72, the main character is walking to the station and he bumps into the young woman for the first time. 그리고 여자(=the young woman’s older sister)하고 같이 있는 임순경이 근무 해야할 차래라고 page 74에 나와요. So does that mean on page 72, when the main character is walking to the station, he is in the middle of doing a patrol (순찰하는 도중인가요)? 집에서 지서로 가는게 아니라요?

Sorry for these tedious questions...I just want to be absolutely sure.

Janet

 


 

49.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Tue, Nov 19, 2019, 1:28 AM

subject:             Library Journal!!!!

 

선생님!!

Your book has been chosen as one of Library Journal’s Best World Literature of 2019!!!!

https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=best-world-literature-2019-best-books

Congratulations!!

 


 

 


 

50.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Nov 22, 2019, 10:27 PM

subject:            Re: Questions about 〈파리〉

 

Janet, then let’s keep it the same as the original.

12자 장롱 wardrobes are considered the best in Korea.

It would be nice if foreign readers knew this, but there’s no need to explain with a footnote, is there?

Regarding the edit a few days ago, let’s correct the dimensions of the wardrobe. I’ve changed it from 8자 or 10자 to 9자 on pages 40 and 60.

Cheongsong Village in 〈파리〉 should be Cheongbong Village. I never caught the mistake.^^;;; When I read the story again it felt like I was reading somebody’s else writing. It’s so embarrassing.

I noticed the timestamp of your email. It looks you’re hardly sleeping at all.

Janet, don’t overwork yourself.

Thank you.^^

 


 

51.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Thu, Dec 12, 2019, 8:33 PM

subject:             PEN Translation Prize 

 

선생님!!!!!!

We’ve been nominated for the 2020 PEN Translation Prize!

It’s just the longlist now (10 books - see bottom) and in January they will announce the shortlist (5 books). Fingers crossed!!!

Please don’t share the news until tomorrow 10am New York time.

황석영 선생님의 책, translated by Sora, has also been nominated, along with Nobel prize winner Olga Tolkarczuk, Naja Marie Aidt and so many brilliant writers and translators!

Congrats, 선생님!!! Thank you for writing this incredible book!!!

XOXO,

Janet

 


 

52.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Sat, Jan 11, 2020, 1:02 PM

subject:             The Paris Review

 

선생님!!!

Happy New Year!! Your book is one of the staff picks at THE PARIS REVIEW!!!!! And look, your picture!!! AHHHH!!

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/01/10/staff-picks-sex-stand-up-and-south-korea/

Also, Bluebeard’s First Wife has been sent off to the printer!!! We’re all very excited to see this come out!!

When will 《여우 여자》 be ready???

Love,

Janet

 


 

53.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 3:39 PM

subject:             Harvard bookstore’s staff favourite books        

 

선생님,

Hello again! This is Harvard bookstore’s staff favourite books of 2019. Look at your book at the bottom right.

힘내요!!!!!! I’m sure 《여우 여자》 is wonderful!!

Love,

Janet

 

 

Sent from my iPhone

 


 

54.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 7:53 PM

subject:             Bluebeard’s First Wife

 

The books just came back from the printers!! 아직 나올 때까진 멀었지만… 6월달에 나와요!!

The front cover has a blurb by Susan Choi who won the National Book Award last year.

 


 

55.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan, Kang Youngsook

date:                 Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 9:35 AM

subject:            Update

 

하성란 강영숙 선생님,

How are you? I’ve been thinking of you and everyone in Korea. I hear the situation there is improving, which makes me feel hopeful.

Spring break started this week for us, but since parts of Canada have declared a state of emergency, we’ve been practising social distancing and staying home. Libraries, recreation centres, etc. are all shut down, and it was announced earlier this week that schools will remain closed past spring break. It’s all very troubling, and they tell us this is just the beginning.

But on the flip side, because people are driving and traveling less, the animals are returning and I feel our planet is being restored. For the first time in I can’t remember how long, I’ve been hearing frogs outside our window.

I’m trying to stay positive and not let anxiety take over...also trying to take advantage of the situation and get some work done, but Dale has also been working from home and I keep getting distracted by the news, as well as having everyone at home. Take care, you two! Sending you lots of love during these troubling times!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

56.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Sat, Mar 21, 2020, 4:01 PM

subject:            Re: Update

 

Janet, the whole world is on high alert.

It started a little earlier here in Korea, so we’ve been social distancing for more than a month now.

My second child enters middle school this year but we’re in limbo because schools haven’t opened yet. Flights have been reduced, so my younger sister who’s a flight attendant is on a long vacation. I’m worried about the current situation, but then again in the back of my mind I wonder if I could maybe write about this. But there’s already a brilliant book called Blindness. And Kang Young-sook writes about the “after” in her Burim novel. I desperately want to read her book, but I’ve only read the beginning so far because I’ve been busy.

Did you say you can hear frogs outside your window? In the city? How beautiful and amazing!

Does that mean this virus is a warning against moving too fast? Maybe it’s saying we all need to take a break. Anyway, I feel like this pause isn’t a bad thing. See, even frogs come to our windows when we stop for a moment.

Take care of your mother, husband, and children!

화이팅 no, I mean 릴렉스.^^

Seong-nan...

 


 

57.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Sat, Apr 18, 2020, 11:02 PM

subject:             Hello

 

선생님,

안녕하세요! 선생님께서는 건강히 잘 지내시는지요? 한국은 상황이 많이 나아진 것 같아 다행입니다. 캐나다는 미국 비해선 낫지만 아직도 모든 게 풀리지 않았어요. 잘 견디고 있었는데 요새 남편하고 다투기 시작했어요. ㅋㅋㅋ 선생님은 잘 견디시고 있어요?

Just wanted to check in to see how you were doing. No pressure, but I also wanted to see if you’re able to work these days (many of us are distracted and are finding it very difficult to write/translate). 이런 상황에 일 하실 수 있습니까? If you are able to work, what are you working on these days?

If you don’t mind me asking, what is the status of 《여우 여자》? How about 정오의 그림자 and 여덟 번째 아이? ^^ Now that 《푸른 수염》 will be released in June, I wanted to start thinking about the next book we should bring out in English.

Also, I recently read 《크리스마스캐럴》 and loved it. Though I would love to translate it, I haven’t started, because most importantly, I just can’t think of a solution for translating “10박”. I need to come up with a nickname in English that also sounds like a swear word, but I haven’t found the perfect English equivalent yet.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and make sure you and your family are well. Please take good care, 선생님.

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

58.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Sun, Apr 19, 2020, 5:49 PM

subject:            Re: Hello

 

Janet, I’m doing well. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well too.

I laughed for a long time at the bit where you said you’ve started quarrelling with your husband. My husband and I have been sharing an office for a long time so we’ve already done our share of quarrelling. It’s business as usual now. ㅎㅎ

My second one who entered junior high this year is now doing his classes online beside me without having been to school yet. I didn’t go out for close to two months during social distancing. I’ve gained weight. There’s a limit to the amount of exercise you can do at home. I should have gotten more work done, but my day is almost over by the time I prepare food for the children. I’m in low spirits these days.

I have to hand over the manuscript for 《여우 여자》 by May 6th. I’m feeling I’ve reached my limit in many ways. But I’ll do my best until the end. Once I’ve sent in my manuscript to the publisher, I’ll also share it with you. I’m a bit worried that you’ll be disappointed.

《크리스마스캐럴》 is a story I have some regrets about. I would suggest that you translate 《여우 여자》 next. Please wait a little longer.

Let’s be healthy until the Corona virus is gone. Give my regards to your husband.

I’ll email you the manuscript soon.

With love,

Seong-nan

 


 

59.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 10:15 AM

subject:             Re: Re: Hello  

 

선생님!!

So great to hear from you. 저도 마찬가지예요. 하루가 밥하고, 빨래하고, 애들 가르치는 일로 너무 빨리 지나가요. So I understand completely!

I look forward to getting 《여우 여자》. 화이팅, 선생님! You can do it!!

1. By the way, Anthony just sent this to me. The Guardian mentioned Flowers of Mold today, and he tells me the same reviewer is working on a review of Bluebeard for another newspaper/magazine. Will update you as soon as this comes out!

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/23/south-korea-female-writers-rise-up-cho-nam-joo

2. Also, CrimeReads will be publishing “Night Poaching” (〈밤의 밀렵〉) on their website!!

More soon - see below for Anthony’s message.

Love,

Janet

 


 

60.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Tue, Apr 28, 2020, 1:52 PM

subject:             Fwd: Booklist Advance Review - Starred

 

선생님!!!

We got another starred review!! This time from BOOKLIST!!! The review will go live on May 15!!

Congratulations!!

Love,

Janet

 


 

61.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 10:38 AM

subject:             A lot of Bluebeard news!           

 

선생님!

안녕하세요! 건강히 잘 지내지요?

We got another SUPERB review in Words Without Borders. Congratulations!

https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/book-review/ha-seong-nans-bluebeards-first-wife-gives-the-old-tale-of-patriarchy-a-new?src=twitter

How is 《여우 여자》 coming along? 계속 재촉해서 미안해요, but I believe in you! You can do it, 선생님! heart

XO,

Janet

 


 

62.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 3:37 PM

subject:             Re: A lot of Bluebeard news!

 

Janet, I hope you and your family are doing well.^^

I’m still revising 《여우여자》. The publisher has been pushing me to send them the manuscript but I’ve been failing to meet the deadline. But I’m recovering my strength and my spirits little by little so I’ll wrap it up soon. I’m thankful to you for always giving me strength.

《여우여자》 is a novel I serialized a long time ago. In the meantime, society has undergone a lot of changes so I’m revising that bit, but it’s not easy.

Do you remember the short story 〈강의 백일몽〉 in my collection Wafers? I feel shy saying this, but I like this story. There are 11 stories in this collection, maybe you can work on this next after shortening the list?

My novel A should also be a good follow-up to Bluebeard’s First Wife. I think the message in that novel can still have some impact. A publisher has approached me with an offer to republish it so I’m preparing for it now. But first, I’ll wrap up 《여우여자》 quickly.

I’m sending you all the support and strength you gave me.

The COVID-19 situation is scary but it’s amazing how people are finding ways to live and work even in this situation. I’m thinking about the life ahead of us.

Thank you, Janet.

Always take care of yourself.^^

Seong-nan

 


 

63.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Mon, Jun 15, 3:53 PM

subject:             Re: Re: A lot of Bluebeard news!          

 

선생님!! 반가워요!!

선생님께서 겪고 계신 것들 충분히 이해가 됩니다. I’ve been trying to write my own 장편 for the last 4 years without success crying so I’m definitely not one to pressure you.

사실 《웨하스》는 오랫동안 간직하고 있었지만 읽어보지 못했는데, 《웨하스》 하고 《A》를 다시 읽어 보겠습니다. I’ll let you know my thoughts as soon as I finish!

다른 출판사에서 《A》를 내고 싶다고요? Congratulations! 어떤 출판사요? 준비 중이시면 does that mean there will be many changes to the text? If so, could you please send me the final version?

Thank you and talk soon! 보고 싶어요!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

64.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 4:22 PM

subject:             Happy pub day!

 

선생님! Happy publication day to you!! Bluebeard is out in the world today!! We did it!

By the way, I read 〈강의 백일몽〉 last night. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!! I still have to re-read A to decide, but I really want to work on Wafers next!!

XO,

Janet

 


 

65.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 4:52 PM

subject:             Re: Happy pub day!

 

Janet, congratulations!!!

I’m so happy we’re on this journey together.

Please be with me in the future too. ㅎㅎㅎ

Seong-nan

 


 

66.

from:                 Janet Hong

to:                     Ha Seong-nan

date:                 Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 10:32 PM

subject:             40

 

선생님,

잘 지내시지요? 요즘 자주 생각나고 보고싶어요. I turned forty last week. 그래서 그런지 우울하네요. 작업 진도는 안 나가고, 15년동안 한국 드라마 안 보다가 요즘 코로나 사태 후로 드라마에 완전 빠졌답니다... 유치한 것 알면서도 너무 좋아요. ㅋㅋ

Agnel Joseph (the editor-in-chief of Korean Literature Now) wants to do a special feature on translators and the relationship translators have with their authors, and he thought you and I would be perfect. He’ll be in touch with you soon.

For that reason, I was looking through some of our old emails and found this one from 2007, just a little over a month after you gave birth to your son. 세월 정말 빠르죠?

선생님, 항상 힘내세요!

Warmest,

Janet

 


 

67.

from:                 Ha Seong-nan

to:                     Janet Hong

date:                 Wed, Jul 29, 2020, 4:04 PM

subject:             Re: 40

 

Janet, congratulations on turning forty!!!

I’d just turned forty in Korean age when we first started exchanging emails. I gave birth to a child at that age with no fear, so don’t feel too depressed. If I could go back in time, I’d go back to that year.^^ Trust me. This will be the best time for you. ¤¾¤¾

My eldest—the one I ventured out to give an umbrella to—entered graduate school this year. She’s getting married next year. Her fiancé is the man she starting dating in college. The baby who was forty days old then is now in first grade of middle school.

Time really does fly.

More than anything else, I was happy to discover the name Hong Jeemyung in the email you sent me. Your Korean name is also beautiful. I was taken back to that time while reading your email.

Cheers to your bright fortieth!

Wishing good health to you and your family.^^

Seong-nan