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Articles tagged "Korea"

Genesis

Only a few machines on this moon-base remain working. The satellite camera that always faces Earth, the monitor connected to that camera, the memory device, and the replay device. They run on solar power, so I suppose they’ll stay on as long as the sun exists. They’ll keep their vigil over Earth after I’m gone. The sun won’t last forever, but at least I’ll have disappeared before it goes out. It’s sad to disappear. I guess it’s like being an old...

Kim Yideum’s “Cheer Up, Femme Fatale” & Oh Sae-young’s “Night-Sky Checkerboard”

While reading these two collections, I couldn’t get LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” out of my head. Like James Murphy’s “kids coming up from behind,” Kim Yideum is a brash, no holds barred poet, unafraid of sensitive topics, though with a poet’s healthy self-doubt. Oh Sae-young, on the other hand, is an older poet whose generation came of age during the depredations of Korean partition and matured under the fractured and...

Wizard Bakery

The Devil’s Cinnamon Cookies. 2 per serving. 9000 won. Ingredients: flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and a secret extract. The essence of the extract will not be revealed, as certain ingredients may be found revolting. (Baker’s note: Extract contains no known allergens, so not to worry. Besides, you’re not going to eat it yourself!) Product Details: Give the cookie to someone you don’t like. The cookie will mentally incapacitate the recipient for an average...

Building a New World

I don’t know if people remember how they learned to read and write—or swim, or do cartwheels. I know that one day I wasn’t able to do these things, and the next day I was, even though the difficult gray area in between perhaps extended for months, years even. And the day I did suddenly know how to read and write was so different from all the rest behind me, that it seems perhaps more reasonable now to believe that I never was that other person—that I never existed in...

From the Translator: Han Yujoo’s “Lament”: Writing Through the Blank Page

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If you’re Han Yujoo and life gives you writer’s block, you write about it and create something beautiful in the process. Let me begin by clarifying: I’m a translator, and I’m also a writer. Or, as I like to say, I’m a translator by day and a writer by night. But who am I kidding? By night, I’m often too tired to write. Which doesn’t mean I don’t try, circling as I do the wasteland of my personal...

Notes on Writing and Translating in Korea Today

With Korea being this year’s Market Focus at the London Book Fair, there was a multitude of events exploring the publishing potential around this country, revealing a whole universe of literature to be read, and of course, translated. The “Writing and Translating in Korea Today” seminar at the Literary Translation Centre gave a succinct overview of the Korean literary landscape. The panelists were all translators as well as authors. Krys Lee, author of Drifting House, was...

Say Ah, Pelican

Boat People Yawn. Yawning always makes me sleepy. There are still two boats out on the water, but I lie down anyway. There’d be trouble if the boss saw me. It would be so great if the polar ice caps melted right now. No one would care about a ticket-taker asleep at an amusement park if there were a flood, would they? Slowly melting, melting . . . so tired. I lie down and close my eyes like a dying rat. I’m a rat. Dying. Four o’clock in the afternoon. I can tell, even...

Injeolmi Rice Cakes

Once Maternal Grandmother set off, a basin of injeolmi rice-cakes on her head, to sell in this neighborhood and that, I would pull out scraps of glass, bottle tops, a broken pocketknife, medicine bottles, a handle-less fruit knife, burst beanbags, all hidden on the sunny side of the old wattle fence behind the privy, and play with them. Bored of even that after half a day, I would chase the innocent chickens from the house behind, then end up being scolded by my youngest aunt for scuffling...

The Vegetarian

Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way. To be frank, the first time I met her I wasn’t even attracted to her. Middling height; bobbed hair neither long nor short; jaundiced, sickly-looking skin; somewhat prominent cheekbones; her timid, sallow aspect told me all I needed to know. As she came up to the table where I was waiting, I couldn’t help but notice her shoes—the plainest black shoes imaginable. And...

Gamak Valley

During wartime the men die, the women survive. Cockerels have their necks twisted and die, hens sit on eggs. Gamak Valley in Yeonsan, north of Nonsan in South Chungcheong is where sharp hills approach the ridges of Mount Gyeryong. Fifty men died there, once, while two men twisted their hair into topknots and revered Kim Il-Bu’s esoteric “Jeongyeok.” The small room, the door of which is never opened was pitch dark even at midday. Yeonsan’s Gamak Valley. Some forty...

My Wife’s Magic

My wife is sad and seeing my sad wife, I too am sad, then as she answers her mother’s phone call, “Sure, we’re fine,” the wife inside my wife grows sadder still. I want to live in a world that’s perfect like magic. The rabbit that came out of a hat voluntarily goes back into the hat. When I try to go into a mirror, I wonder why the rigid surface stops me? A mother abandons her child, a job abandons a father, a disease abandons a sick person and a magician...

Mud Flats

She lies there with her hugely pregnant body. At dawn a ship leaves, cutting through her stomach. As it emerges from her body, headed for the sea, trailing its umbilical cord, oh, from within her body forcefully the innocent sun is driven out and up. Inside her empty body remain scattered shrouds, nothing but head-towels women forgot. Empty cockle shells that become feed for living creatures become silent, empty midday houses. A flock of speckled seagulls comes flying, they force their way...

Earning My Keep

Mother, I think I'll go pay a visit to Hell. No matter how far away, I'll set off as if leaving for work in the morning then come back as if coming off work in the evening. Don't skip meals, chew your food well before swallowing, be sure to turn off the gas when you step out, and don't worry too much about me. Hell too must be a place where people live, so if I go to Hell to earn my keep at last I'll be able to become a human being....

Passing Through Seongeup Village

Whenever I gaze into a horse’s virtuous eyes, it seems to know nothing but the indigent evening in the direction the wind is blowing from. Translation of   "Seongeup maeureul jinamyeo. " By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Yoo Hui-Sok. All rights reserved.

Korean

Garden of My Childhood

Note: The narrator and her family have fled the Korean War and arrived at a small village where they are renting a room from a one-eyed carpenter whose daughter Bu-ne is rumored to have gone mad and died. The narrator's father was taken away while they were fleeing, and the family has not heard from him since. Her mother has taken up a job working nights at a restaurant in town. Mother slept late. Older Sister and Second Brother had long ago left for school. When sunlight landed on...

To the Longbills at Mangyeong River

From time to time, climbers ascending Mt. Everest or Nanga Parbat stumble upon migrating birds, frozen on snow-capped peaks at 8,000-meter altitudes. The cross-continental flight formation these birds launched in the northern tundra of Canada passes straight through the heart of the Asian Continent. The migrating birds pass over the Himalayas to reach the Adrian Sea, off southern India. The exhausted ones fall and die in Himalayan whirlwind on snow-covered mountain tops, while others...
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