A barely veiled attack on Ko Un?

KTLIT LogoAn interesting article to try to suss out over at East Asia Insight. It is a (clearly translated) article that attacks Korean Poets for “romanticism” (which apparently means drunkeness, among other things) and sets out a new vision. It is written by the site-manager Sang-Yong Lee.

It blind-refers to a poet, who I have to immediately think is Ko Un.

First, the poet has written a novel (Little Pilgrim, among others, check!), although this may be in reference to an interviewer?
Second, the poet lives in a “regional city” (Anyeong, check!)
Third, “written poems for 50 years” (62 to now = exact check!)
Fourth, associated with “infantile meditation” (Buddhist since 1952, check!)

Two things militate against this guess, first that Mr. Lee also attacks lack of international literary knowledge and failure to travel as sins of modern current Korean poets, and Ko Un has been nothing if not international, but the fit still seems pretty good.

What is most interesting about this article to me is its attack on drinking, and a nice sideways swipe at Li Bai, a Chinese poet who is famously said to have died while drunkenly trying to capture the reflection of the moon in the Yangtze river.

Subsequently he referred to ‘romanticism’, which means ‘hard drinking’ in Korea literary circles. In other words, the poetic world is the one that a drunken poet sees, maybe the drunken world would be ‘romantic’ or ‘fantastic’. Most Korean poets seem to be false admirer for Li Taibo (李太白), who would not be pleased of their inferiority.

Sany-Yong Lee concludes with this prescription:


Firstly, Korean writers must escape ‘infantile’ meditation and void abstract philosophy.

Secondly, Korean writers must not be proud of their ignorance about world literature classics.

Thirdly, Korean writers should leave their home town.

Fourthly, they should not write poems in a mood of alcoholic drinks.

LOL. Sound like someone needs a nice shot of soju.^^

Other readers, do you know of a poet, other than Ko Un, who better fits this identikit?



One thought on “A barely veiled attack on Ko Un?

  1. Nicely tackled. Sometimes other people just write or react on certain things just for the sake of reacting without taking into consideration the real reasons behind things.

Comments are closed.