Discussing North Korean Literature on TBS eFM 1013 Main Street

If you’ve read the posts of the past week this may be a bit redundant, but it is the sound file from my bit on TBS eFM’s 1013 Main Street in which I talk about seeing North Korea through a South Korean mirror.



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5 thoughts on “Discussing North Korean Literature on TBS eFM 1013 Main Street

  1. Great to hear the issues discussed ! ! !

    I would recommend that there be a button on your site at which one could go to just your podcasts.

  2. Charles..

    Kind of the same is the “Pods” button on the top menu… I haven’t been keeping it well updated (as the date jumps show), but I will in the future…

  3. Suggestion for a post:

    What are the top 10 Korean writers and separately the top 10 Korean works that should be translated into English?

  4. Charles,

    I’m not sure I can tell you that, because it’s on the other side of the translation gap.^^

    I’d say Pak Min-gyu for sure… various works, really (I think a new work of his will be in the next volume of Asia Literary Review)

    Maybe more Kang Yong-sook?

    Your question is at the heart of one of the problems involved with translating – who can judge what should cross the barrier?

    I interviewed the new Director of LTI Korea (the interview will show up here in a week or two) and he did say that he intended to move away from the previous selection model (choices made by Korean critics) to a more ‘foreigner friendly’ selection model (choices made by bilingual foreigners – mainly the translator community – and by foreign publishers, who would know what will sell). He also mentioned a move towards increasing translations of what he called, ‘middlebrow’ fiction.

    Which I think would be a very good thing indeed…

  5. I am VERY pleased that KLTI is saying that it intends to move away from the previous selection model (choices made by Korean critics) to a more ‘foreigner friendly’ selection model (choices made by bilingual foreigners – mainly the translator community – and by foreign publishers, who would know what will sell.

    As someone engaged in publishing, how will they reach out?

    I would also say that they need to broaden that community to include for genre literature professionals who know and love the particular genre involved.

    I would suggest getting SF experts to participate when considering science fiction, maybe the author of something like this http://churi4u.khan.kr/tag/%ED%95%9C%EA%B5%AD%EC%B6%94%EB%A6%AC%EC%9E%91%EA%B0%80%ED%98%91%ED%9A%8C for mysteries, etc.

    This is because we foreigners will have no sense of what the possibilities are within existing Korean lit, and translators will not know genre literature — after all, very little genre literature has been translated into English, translations have mainly been of highbrow lit that few read.

    We foreign publishers would need expert guides who could tell us what are the best books out there that are mysteries, romance, SF, thrillers, etc. And translators are not likely to be effective guides — their core skills after all are of translation, not of knowing and being a fan of every type of literature.

    Separately, KLTI should do what Finland has done with http://www.booksfromfinland.fi/ for its magazine.

    For example, when I as a publisher see this:

    about a SF book, I want to see an excerpt of the book in translation already.

    Reading the review is helpful, but I want to actually see for MYSELF. Publishers are well accustomed to positive reviews about bad books, so we are suspicious and guarded.

    There are some excerpts at their site but not nearly enough, especially of genre literature that could actually be sold in a bookstore.

    And, I want to know a little (not much) about the reviewer. In this case, I see that the reviewer is a literary studies professor, which means that his views are essentially worthless to a commercial publisher (they may be useful to an academic publisher though). The reviewer should have a background in the type of books under discussion, a publisher, writer, head of a fan club, SOEMTHING.

    For a science fiction book like U, Robot, I would like to see a review by a science fiction writer or fan, someone who worked for: or http://fantastique.co.kr/ would be good. NOT a literary theory professor. I want a review by someone who knows and loves that type of book and so can tell me whether the book is really good.

    I would also want some kind of contact for how I could discuss any translation rights — that information is not available from the website.

    In the case of U, Robot, the publisher is listed as GoldenBough Publishing, yet I cannot find any such firm when I use Google.

    So, the KLTI List magazine, even for a book that might have some commercial interest, is so unhelpful that as a practical matter a publisher will give up and try something different.

    If the KLTI people actually want people to use their services, they need to make them usable for publishers.

    As another point, the name of this magazine is unhelpful.

    Rather than “__List books from Korea”, with a URL of www. list.or.kr — how about the MOST IMPORTANT part of the title “Books from Korea” and the URL http://www.booksfromkorea.or.kr

    And the LIST magazine itself needs to be recast.

    Look at the front page and the first article:

    “Redefining the Real Korean Wave” which then starts telling the reader about K-Pop idol groups.

    This is a magazine about books — BOOKS!

    LIst should be about books — not K-Pop music groups.

    A publisher wants information on Korean books not Koren music or singers, even if they are much more famous than Korean writers or books.


    Separately, I see that a Korean researcher Im Chung-in, who is or was at Sungkyunkwan University, in Seoul has written an essay in English on romance literature in ROK:

    “Rewritten Romances and Lost Voices: Recent TV Adaptations of Popular Girls’ Comics and Woman-Authored Romances in South Korea”

    Seems like that could be a good person for an interview — someone expert in genre literature would be a fun subject for an interview.

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