Found On The Web #15

Sticky Stuff

Found on the Web

Two bits of good news about modern authors and one bit of good (with a strong side order of ludicrous) news about and older one.

First, the a very short article, nearly a press-release, announcing that Author Kong Ji-young, 48, will donate the entire royalty from her four novels released in Japan to victims of the recent tsunami.

Kong notified her agency of her plan to help victims affected by the tsunami and earthquakes Wednesday.
Kong wrote on Twitter on Thursday: “I will donate the entire amount of royalty for my released books in Japan,” and added “I hope my small sincerity is a help.”
Kong’s books in Japan include ― “Our Happy Time,” “Things that come after love,” “My Sweet Home,” and “Go alone like a rhino’s horn.”

LOL – I’m certain she doesn’t really mean that she has “small sincerity?”

Next, Yi Mun-yol at a high school in Pennington New Jersey, looking fit and with a bit of a new dye-job on his hair. ^^

Finally, another translation that looks like it might be interesting for scholars and has the singular attribute of having been translated by a professor at my previous university.^^  The author  “Park Ji-won (1737-1805), better known by his literary name Yeonam, was an unusual intellectual who went against the tide in a profoundly conservative and inflexible Confucian social system during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).” Emanuel Pastreich, who is the director of the Asia Institute and associate professor at Woosong University in Daejeon, has translated 10  of Park’s short stories  into English in “The Novels of Park Jiwon: Translation of Overlooked Worlds.”  For which, kudos to him..

However, it seems that he may have tread outside of the known world of marketing  when the article reports:

The professor views Park’s novels as ultimately attaining a global reach.
Regarding his translations he said, “I think that there is a clear appeal for the Western readers in that his novels have a subtle irony to them that is both questioning of accepted norms, but does not preach.

And then tries to prove that Park will burn up the bestseller list with the following:

“The Tale of the Yangban Scholar” implies his [Park’s] poignant views on the Confucian social system by lampooning the hypocrisy and inability of the ‘yangban’ (noble/scholar class).

Park satirized the yangban by writing that, “The yangban does not plow the earth, nor does he engage in commerce. With just a cursory knowledge of literature and history, a yangban can pass the higher exams and succeed in the civil service. Even those who are not particularly distinguished pass the exams and become a licentiate.”

First, that’s some pretty uninspiring text from Park. Second, it doesn’t really hold up as satire. Third, no western reader outside of an Asian Studies library will have the slightest idea what a Yangban is. Basically it’s the equivalent of a modern day writer complaining that people with bad eyesight can pass the test for a driver’s license.

Now imagine the person reading the complaint about the driver’s license test travels by teleportation, and has no idea what a car is, much less a driver’s license.

Then, of course, there is the insane price of 55,000 won (which I sure can’t be in the slightest ascribed to Professor Pastreich – this has all the smell of a Seoul National University Press decision).

Oh well, it’s another thing for some readers to eventually go to and read, and I will certainly try to find a library copy and review it.



6 thoughts on “Found On The Web #15

  1. Without looking at the original text, it sounds like “small sincerity” is a literal translation–작은 정성, perhaps. Expressions of humility don’t translate very well into English, do they?

  2. Charles,

    Bruce and I are already friends, and planning to work together on the Wikipedia Project (Bruce is in Seoul most of this year).

  3. troisroyaumes,

    I hadn’t even begun to work back to the Korean, but the literal translation fails here. A looser but better translation would be “small gesture,” I think.

  4. You should consider doing an interview with Bruce for your radio show.

    He likely would have interesting things to say.

  5. When he gets back to Seoul I’ll ask him. We interviewed him before (it’s somewhere on the podcasts page), but I’d love to interview him about Waxen Wings and a few other things..

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