[2018 LTI Korea Translation Awards] Building Bridges between Two Countries

  • onDecember 12, 2018
  • byLidia Azarina

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to LTI Korea. The professors, staff, and students that I have met here are dear to me, and the organization itself has become like a hometown to which I will always want to return. As a translator, I will never be able to thank you enough for the help that you have rendered. Translators like me are ever so greatly encouraged not only by the translation grants, but also by the translation awards that you offer.

I am beside myself with happiness on winning the 2018 LTI Korea Translation Award for Han Changhoon’s short story collection, I Like It Here. Right from the first page, I fell under Han’s spell and became a fan of his work.

I think that literary translation’s true significance is that it allows one to learn about the world. Every time I translate a new novel, my heart beats with excitement as if I am travelling to a far-off land. And it just so happened that while translating Han’s story collection, I did travel somewhere. The majority of the stories take place on a remote island, so I took the occasion to visit the place where Han grew up, the island of Geomundo. Han gives minute descriptions of life on the island, and this helped me to imagine the scenes quite vividly. It then benefitted my translation to see the things that I was reading about, and in this way have them come to life before my eyes.

The book features universal themes that anyone can identify with, but my first thought was that its realism and unique sensibility would appeal to Russian readers. In Russia, Korean literature is not yet widely read, though through the efforts of various translators more and more great works are steadily being introduced. We are well aware that a translated work cannot be the same as the original, and that the nuances cannot all be properly conveyed. But I think that translators are spurred to do their best work in the hopes that they can convey the emotional tenor of the original text.

To make an analogy, if a foreign country is on the other side of a river, then translators are the ones building bridges across. I believe that no matter how far apart the two countries are, as the bridges connecting the two river banks become sturdier and more numerous, the people will understand each other better and feel more intimately connected. I feel honored to have taken a small part in building such a bridge.

Thank you.


by Lidia Azarina