Interesting things from London Korea Links: Shin Kyung-sook, Park Kyung-ni, and “Land”

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Agent of Fortune

London Korea Links continues to pour out the quality content (But they need to develop a nice square “WordPress-convenient” logo!)..

First, the notification  that Please Take Care of Mom (as it is known in the UK) has

been abridged and serialised for radio, and will be broadcast in seven 15-minute episodes at 10:45pm, on weekdays starting 2 June. You can probably listen to it on the BBC website as well.

That last bit of news turns out to be true – follow the link and you will find the first episode available online, BUT FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY (six more days as I type these words)

Second, and along those lines, LKL’s Bella Frey reviews Please Look After Mom (a task I still can’t quite bring myself to do^^). Despite some rather minor cavils, Ms. Frey likes it.

Finally, LKL announces “A major addition to world literature” – the translation of Park Kyung-ni’s T’oji is launched. The article notes:

Land was 25 years in the making (1969-1994), extending over 5 parts and some 6 million words. It is unusual in being highly esteemed in critical and acadamic circles as well as being hugely popular. It is truly a “national epic”, dealing with “big themes, extraordinary events and unforgettable characters”. Its method of publication was weekly or sometimes monthly serialisation. This clearly impacts the style of writing, with the story-telling structured in mini episodes, starting with a narrative hook and ending with suspense. This means that readers are very easily drawn in – and means the work easily travels across cultural and linguistic barriers.

The skeptic in me thinks that this is the description of a work that may pass across some cultural and linguistic barriers, but that its epic length and essential “Koreaness” will keep it out of the hands of most people who read literature in English for “pleasure.”

Still, it is counted one of the great works of Korean modern literature, and with potboiler success being achieved on other fronts, it doesn’t seem a dire waste of resources (as I would have resolutely claimed four years ago^^).

Also interesting to note that the translator is Agnita Tenant, who I had never heard of until this year,  does some quite interesting work:


Evening Glow by Won-Il Kim and Agnita M. Tennant (Aug 2003)
STAR, & other Korean short stories. by Agnita, translator Tennant (1996)

One thought on “Interesting things from London Korea Links: Shin Kyung-sook, Park Kyung-ni, and “Land”

  1. Well, I’ve got a square-ish logo (see my gravatar) but it’s not as imaginative as yours.

    Bella is a touch lukewarm on PLAM – I think it appealed to me more than it did to her. Maybe I just have a lot of guilt stored up. I found the second person narrative style very interesting, making the story universal while simultaneously accusing the individual reader of all the things that the characters in the novel are guilty of. I asked Bella to review it as she is a Korean adoptee so I thought she might have an interesting slant on it.

    Re Land, it has now increased my reading pile by 3 inches, and I fully intend to read it. (But then, I have also fully intended to read Gibbon for the past 15 years and still haven’t got more than 20% of the way through it). Margaret Drabble was very enthusiastic about the translation as literature in its own right: no apologies needed.

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