K-Lit Wiki Project

One of the great initial research tools for English speakers, The Wikipedia, is extremely light on information about Korea literature, including some quite famous authors being absent. It has been almost silly. Lee Dong-ha had two sentences, Lee Mun-yol a paragraph, Park Wan-so and Shin Kyung-sook did not even have pages.

THE KTLIT WIKIPEDIA PROJECT (and anyone can join in), is to make sure that information about Korean authors starts to become generally available on the internet. The project works by finding reliable sources in English language (often times from the LTI Korea site, or from one of their publications), and repurposing it for the Wikipedia. Recently, we have branched out to tracking writers down, taking their pictures, and posting them copyright free, so they can be used on the Wikipedia.

It’s fun.^^ Join us.^^

WHAT IS IT?

An attempt to make it much easier for English-speaking readers to find information on Korean authors and literature.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

There is a page for Korean novelists here on wikipedia, but most links go nowhere. So, it’s up to us to fill them in. ;-)

WHO HAVE WE ADDED?

The Wikipedia page for Kim Yong-ik, who did not have one.
Bae Su-ah
Bruce Fulton
Cho Hae-il
Choi In-ho
Cho Seon-jak
Ch’oe Yun
Choi In-hun
Eun Hee-kyung
Gong Ji-young (unstubbed)
Cho Se-hui
Han Kang
Han Moo-sook
Han Su-san
Hwang Sun-mi
Hyun Jin-geon
Hyun Ki-young
Im Chul-woo
Jo Kyung-ran
Jung Young-moon
Kim Chi-won
Kim Dong-in
Kim Hye-soon
Kim In-suk
Kim Ryeo-ryeong
Kim Seong-kon
Kim Seung-ok
Lee Hyo-seok
Lee Kyun-young
Lee Seung-u
Lee Yuksa
Na Hye-sok (Updated, reformatted, orphan tag removed)
Oh Jung-hee
Oh Young-su
Park Min-gyu
Park Wan-so
Pyun Hye-Young
Shin Kyung-sook
Yang Gui-ja
Yi Kwangsu
Yom Sang-seop
Yun Dae-nyeong
“The Dwarf” by Cho Se-hui
Yi-Sang Literary Award
Dong-in Literary Award
So-wol Poetry Prize
(more details available in the comment section below)

WHO CAN DO IT?

Anyone, Wikipedia is open, so anyone can start a page. And this will require help, since I’m sure much of the original information is in Korean, which we’re short on around here.

45 thoughts on “K-Lit Wiki Project

  1. FIRST WEEK UPDATE
    Kim Yong-Ik page added/link created from Korean Novelists Page
    Ch’oe Yun page added
    Cho Se-hui page added
    Link to Kim Young-ha’s existing page created on Korean Novelists Page

  2. i need a korea poem.

    specially ‘ scarp’ by yi sang.

    i need a korea poems are traslated English.

    If you know the poem, talk me please!

  3. Yeah…. I also have a book from KLTI on poets… some day I suppose I’ll get around to that… but I’m generally much more interested in fiction, so that’s where I started. ^^

  4. Hi again Charles. Back on the poetry notion; I only just remembered, and how could I forget in fact, perhaps you’ve heard or met Kevin O’Rourke? He’s an Irish priest who used to teach in Kyunghee University in Seoul and he is one of the largest translators of Korean poetry in English. I think he is retired now however.

  5. Conor,

    Not only in poetry. O’Rourke was also the English translator of one of the most internationally famous Korean books, Yi Mun-yol’s “Our Twisted Hero.”

  6. I figured he had moved onto prose aswell.

    I first came across him when I was in my grandparents caravan where I found a collection of poems he had translated and had given to my grandfather. The copy was signed aswell. I meant to bring it to Korea but I think I left it at home…

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  9. It is so obvious that Wikipedia is one of the sources that frequently and internationally used. Even the very start of my European history paper was an article from Wikipedia, and most ways of my paper was determined from Wikipedia. On the other hand Wikipedia is not commonly used in Korea and this would be the reason of lacking articles about Korean literature. However, since this would be one of the most basic step to publicize Korean literature globally, this kind of efforts were needed. Once I researched about Kenjimonogatari(The Tale of Genji), a japanese novel with large volumes, to write a short comparative literature paper by comparing it with Kuunmong(Nine Cloud’s Dreams), and surprised with affluent explanation on Wikipedia. English article about it was composed of several categories, while Japanese article was much longer and detailed. Not only article about the novel, but about its writer, Murasaki Shikibu, information was much more approachable. Feeling that I realized this lack of reachable information related to Korean literature too late, but still meaningful to create pages to offer information.

  10. Haryung Kim,

    I’d be happy to recieve anything you have on Lee Yuk-sa, and I see we are pretty much in agreement on the Wikipedia. Naver and Daum (and the Korea Wikipedia, if any Koreans actually use it?) may have plenty of literary information, but unless it gets into the English Wikipedia, it will never hit the English-language readers…

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  14. Dear Charles,

    Sorry for the late reply, since I was away from my wordpress and blogspot, so I have leave my facebook link, whether I don’t know you use it or not. I’m thinking about spreading this project at least in my school. I’m attending to KMLA, Korea Minjok Leadership Academy, which provides both domestic and international education programs. All of students have certain level of English language skills, officially proved by IBT scores(above at least 100, in average), so I believe there would be almost no problem at least translating Naver and Daum articles into English and post on Wikipedia. I am planning to post about this project on bulletins in dormitory, and student homepage. For this, I need your help. I hope there bunch of autonomous students exist, willing for announcing Korean literature to English-speaking readers. However, I cannot be so sure whether their work to be so ardent and passionate… Thus, if Korean Modern Literature In Translation is an official organization in Korea, I hope to know whether you can provide certain type of compensation for participants in my school(certificate… or etc). I am really sorry to ask this kind of thing, but I expect this way would have more result being produced.

    I hope you are not being disturbed;(

  15. Dear Haryung,

    I’m afraid KTLIT is decidedly not an official organization. In the past we have tried to interest Korean organizations in this effort, but they have apparently not been impressed.

    I will continue to work on it, but I myself am not paid.^^

    I would like the project to be centralized, to make sure that the pages have similar layout and quality control.

    Until someone official gets interested, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along.

    Charles..

  16. I watched the entire LTI series titled “Korean books” which showed apparently on Arirang… and I found the ratio of male to female to be 67:10. O.o;;

    Here it’s 15:20… Shouldn’t that be more even on LTI? or is it when you get top say 60, more males than females show up as writers? (Considering that the majority of Korean dramas are currently written by females, I can’t really believe that.)

    Also, the majority of the books are what Koreans would call “makjang” or melodramatic. With a ratio of 1:67 were said to be satire and comedy. O.o;

    Making me ask, What is with the uneven numbers of comedy and also female writers? I have read that many female writers were assumed to be male in the Joseon era, but it shouldn’t always be the case. Satire usually does really well in hard economic times…

    Also, I noticed that most of the writers in this list would be classified as modern? What about the older writers/books before say the 1850′s? There’s got to be some. Also after 1980′s… 1990′s has to also be showing up by now.

  17. +1 thing…

    You need a consistent template from page to page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Yong-ik for example, is better than Bae Su-ah (who lacks the hangeul to boot) with the proper template, so when you get more information it can be plugged in at will and thus you’ll get a higher grade. If you learn the system and how to write the pages, the more likely you’ll get enough information to be considered featured. And you want visibility, right? If you can show that a Korean Author can be featured, you’ll more likely get support. ’cause Korea just be that way from what I know. =P

    You also should approach Wikipedia Korea Project to help you on the project which is made up of Koreans and people educated about Korea. They are bound to know information you might not have access to, which means giving each article you create their banner and most likely joining their project. You can get more volunteers and a better template.

    And just to be picky… 박완서 Should be pronounced on the last syllable as saying “eh” and then shaping your mouth like “O” which gives the “eo” sound. It’s not Uh. As in Uhhh… what was I doing? It’s eo. *twitch at all the romanization systems* As in seu would look like: 스, but it isn’t. Which is why learning basic hangeul helps.

    Personally 한중록 I think is worth listing… though it’s not modern. Also Unyeongjon, also not 100% modern, but sooo good. Also marks the first novel (though the author is unclear) where a woman is the central character of the tale. (University of Berkley)

    The University of Hawaii also regularly does Korean literature and also has some light connections to the Korean government’s cultural preservation section, if I understand correctly. Just a suggestion.

  18. LOL.. Kim Yong-ik is better because he was the topic of my graduate thesis and I had tons of info on him, as well as a family contact. There is template (it was not in place for the whole project), but it has to be altered to take into account what information I have on hand. Dongguk and I are currently re-dredging up a proposal that we made to the previous gov’t about doing 100 authors all at once – templated, with complete research, etc. We shall see.. This project has been floated to LTI Korea as well, and while they have expressed interest, it faded away for some reason.

    As to Romanization, I’m fine with hangul and usually go with the standard Revised Romanization of Korean, unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

    Park Wan-suh, was Park’s own preferred Romanization. Since there are about 5 different ones out there, in a case like this I honor the author’s wishes, and not the official Romanization (and let’s not even talk about the horror that is McCune Reischauer!).

    Anyway, I hope this project does get scaled up at some point, and I’m not sure why there is no long term official interest in it. Because of the Wiki copyright standards for photography use alone, it would be quite convenient if the government were involved and photographs could be taken in bulk, or in a regular fashion. For now I just chase authors down the best way I can.

    Thanks for your two comments..

  19. Before, say, Yi Kwang-su, I have only broad knowledge.. also, I don’t particularly care, since those are the books that will never sell. When I put up Shin Kyung-sook’s page it was worth 20 pre-colonization authors in terms of sparking interest/getting information out there.

    Your point about the sex-ratios is good and I try to keep it as balanced as I can. Part of the problem is social historical as female authors were historically considered unimportant (“inner/female house” vs the important stuff the guys were doing^^) and women weren’t generally taught Chinese or encouraged to write. As you know, the development of hangul helped a great deal, but the imbalance was still there and survived into modern literature (which is why a category like “여류 저자” exists). I think it’s even crazier in poetry (which I’m splendidly ignorant on) where a colleague told me more than 50% of the writers are female.

    One of the problems (linking to your other comment) is that I generally use sources in English, and most of the translations are of men, and the “Who’s Who of Korean Literature,” the LTI Korea online info, and the author/poet bio’s published by LTI Korea have all swung strongly to the male side.

    Recently I’ve been using the Korean wiki to get information, but it is limited there as well, and my (shall we say) ‘evolving’^^ skill in Korean limits me to simple things like places of birth/death, Universities, etc.. ^^

  20. On Kim Yong-ik’s side bar… it’s better because I fixed it (Look at the source). Also added links you missed and didn’t link up… So yeah, keep consistent and use the same side bar throughout and make sure you research and link to other articles in wikipedia properly which will give them articles visibility and also help the Korean Wikipedia Project notice the pages and help you with the pages’ grade. You said you created all the pages? Then use the same side bar for all the pages, which you didn’t do. I checked. It’s easier to do the pages when you 1. follow format 2. get people to help you from a larger project. 3. Are vaguely aware of the wikipedia rules and grading standards. (Been there…)

    On Park Wan Suh–I was picking on your pronunciation in the podcast which was wrong. ^^;; That’s why I labeled it nitpicky. It’s because you said 스, not seo 서. O.o; Which struck me as odd… But then my own relatives wouldn’t correct me on a lot of things when I was in Korea either until I insisted. My brother, who is also living in Korea (Also Korean), was dating a Korean girlfriend, and she let him say “Aigoo” for years until I told him it was a bit girly… Aigo was a little less girly and he should try Aissi when frustrated. So I’m correcting your pronunciation. It’s 서, not 스 You’re saying in the podcast several times: 스…. ^^;; Sound like eh, mouth like oh, and you get 어. (Sound is near the front compared to 스, which is near to the back.) ‘Cause I care enough to help you save face in front of Koreans who don’t, but will very subtlely frown at you when you aren’t paying attention. I’ve been there…

    Yeah… I find it strange that modern literature has so many women mentioned… I mean the majority of the popular manhwa and dramas have been written by women. And I read in Unyeongjon that many books that were insisted to be written by males were actually written by females. Probably a bias since the majority of the scholars were traditionally also male (there is even a myth on why this is so dating back to the Silla Empire. Wonrang TT). In fact, if you look, South Korea got it’s first woman president and since Dae Jang Geum it hasn’t been recorded to have any woman attend the head of the government as a doctor since. I’m not surprised that women are so far behind and shunned, what I’m surprised at is the continued bias is so sharp when in other fields and realms women are doing pretty well in terms of creativity and getting so widely recognized for their skills. I find it a bit odd to find it so uneven. Even in US-based writers, the Korean writers I know of in fantasy are only women so far. =P And getting awards to boot. I very much doubt it’s a lack of talent in the field… and I don’t think women write only frivolous things or only about women, since I’ve watched a lot of dramas which are women-written, women-oriented and not always women-centric nor “frivolous” some of them do deal with serious issues which kick butt in subtle ways. After Dae Jang Geum made Korea popular (written by a woman) in East Asia (which was literary in my eyes since it experimented with form a bit), I would think literature would get a clue. Beyond government reforms which take forever, changing the view of the cultural landscape isn’t that difficult. You can do it in less than a generation. More like I’m disappointed in my own country. There isn’t *that* much different between a screenplay and a book. Really. And a good director and a good writer can carry a series better than a bad directo, a bad writer and a set of good actors.

    Jung Eun-gwol, wrote Moon Embracing the Sun and 성균관 스캔들 (hangeul) She’s gaining notoriety, though more in popular fiction. However, from what I’ve read in Korean (struggled since my Korean isn’t perfect) It has a literary bent to it. It breaks structures sometimes (Her version of Moon Embracing the Sun in book form is unconventional compared to the drama and she breaks traditional Korean Historical format)… and refers to people in poetic ways. Plus she deals with feminist issues with a relatively light hand. (She also included the first mudang as primary characters, though shunned by the larger contemporary society) I would keep an eye on her… She has previous books, but I can’t find translations for them. I really, really want to read them in English, especially since Koreans have said her language is gorgeous and I can’t understand 100% of it. Her page isn’t even a stub. It’s 3 sentences. Yes, writes lots of alt history fantasy type of things, but I don’t think that throws her out as a potential person who could be considered Literary. (Give it 10 years or so and Korea will be a top market for Fantasy)

    Lee Sae In 이새인 is also a novelist known for Personal Preference (translated title of: 개인의 취향)… which I thought was interesting since it caught onto the rising trend at the time to support gay rights in Korea. Scholars probably would ignore it as mainstream fiction, but looking at it as a piece of literature (lower case l) that has resonance enough to make it into a fairly popular drama that dealt with the issues of homosexuality fairly well compared to previous fictionalizations, I wouldn’t discount this writer either. Heard from Koreans her writing isn’t quite poetry, quite straight forward, but it’s pretty good.

    Also Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점) was a book by Lee Sun-mi… also got made into a drama. Also happens to be written by a woman (both the screenplay and the original book–not the same person though). Got worldwide notice. Was a top drama and widely popular. Not quite literary… since it was light fun, though did explore themes of what is male v. female in an interesting way. Was remade 2 times over in other countries. It’s funny, fun, but deals with serious questions at the same time. I think good comedy should do that.

    Just because it doesn’t have cancer, war, government uprisings, Jejudo Island rebellions, government occupations, leprosy, student uprisings, or paintings with the theme of han in them, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. =P Laughter can sometimes look deeper in the soul than melodrama can (Gulliver’s Travel’s for example, while a biting satire, tells a lot more about the times than had it been a serious melodrama). I wish the LTI group’s list realized that too. Camillas… and potatoes (though not sure why they skipped the famous potatoes in their podcast–that’s one of the best parts. Was double satired in the drama Greatest Love too…)

    It’s the constant slamming of awesome books I can’t read that makes me want to read Korean authors, particularly female authors, but I’m disappointed that Korean Literature academics in Korea think that women’s lives aren’t that serious or relevant when they are making so much money in the Hallyu business doing exactly what they say they are incapable of doing… and getting worldwide notice for it to boot which is exactly what Korea has been trying to do for years anyway. It’s pretty backwards. Literature should be about capturing human experience and looking at how it resonates through pathos… whether on a small or big scale. (I, personally, also like it to play with form as well) *I know I’m back to being disappointed*

  21. I have grabbed you sidebar for the new page I did..
    Also, I think my pronunciation is a bit better now.. but it is bad if I read Romanized Korean. Reading hangul makes my pronunciation a bit better.
    How can the Korean Wikipedia Project help? As I know it, it’s all in hangul?
    Thanks for the book/author suggestions..
    If you don’t mind, I’ll email you? I have a few technical questions that I don’t think need discussing here.^^

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