[2018 LTI Korea Translation Awards] Translating a Classic of the North and South

  • onDecember 12, 2018
  • byOmura Masao

I am very pleased to have won the LTI Korea Translation Award for Ri Ki-yong’s novel, Hometown. But I would like to think that the prize is not going to this work alone.

Originally, Hometown was translated as the eighth volume of Joseon Modern Literature, The Collected Works. This project was first conceived in 1998. Nine Japanese researchers in the field of Korean literature planned and edited the texts together, and out of the group, I had the good fortune to receive Hometown as a translation assignment. From this perspective, I would like to think of the award as going not to me, but to all nine of the translators involved.

It has just occurred to me that the project took twenty years from planning to publication. The Collected Works are organized as follows:

Volume One: The Heartless by Yi Kwang-su (Tr. Hatano Setsuko, 2005)

Volume Two: The Human Problem by Kang Kyong-ae (Tr. Omura Masuo, 2006)

Volume Three: A Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist and Other Stories by Park Taewon (Tr. Serikawa Tetsei et al., 2006)

Volume Four: Peace under Heaven by Chae Man-sik (Tr. Hotei Toshihiro, Kumaki Tsutomu, 2009)

Volume Five: Kim Dongin’s Collected Works by Kim Dongin (Tr. Hatano Setsuko, 2011)

Volume Six: Three Generations by Yeom Sang-seop (Tr. Sirakawa Yutaka, 2012)

Volume Seven: A Night of Thoughts and Other Stories by Lee Tae-jun (Tr. Kumaki Tsutomu, 2016)

Volume Eight: Hometown by Ri Ki-yong (Tr. Omura Masuo, 2017)

Ri Ki-yong, the author of Hometown, is a representative figure in modern Korean literature, and his work is held in high esteem in both North and South Korea.

In contemporary Japan, scholarly efforts to comprehend aspects of both North and South Korea together are lacking. Few Japanese even realize that Hometown is well regarded in both countries. I am hoping that this prize will spur the intellectual community to undertake a more comprehensive view of the two Koreas.

Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to the Korean researchers who collaborated with me on the translation. I would like to share the joy of this achievement with them.


by Omura Masao