Kim Seong-kon is New Director of LTI Korea

Kim Seong-kon

Kim Seong-kon in the KLTI Library

On Tuesday, as reported in the Herald,  LTI Korea announced its new Director is Kim Seong-kon.

He seems quite qualified having been the Director of the Seoul National University Press, the Seoul International Forum for Literature and the International Association of Korea Studies.

Kim is certainly saying the proper things:

“What local critics consider as an exceptional piece of literary work here may not be regarded the same way overseas,” Kim Seong-kon told The Korea Herald in his office in Samseong-dong, Seoul, Wednesday. “Each and every foreign country has different tastes and interests. I’d like to interact with literary critics and publishers overseas more often, and take their opinions into account. We’d like to be more ‘foreigner-friendly.’”

Those are words that sound good to anyone who does not want to slog through another 250 pages of pundan munhak (separation literature) featuring drab and hopeless lives occasionally interrupted by outbreaks of homicide, fratricide, or other forms of death and destruction.

Kim is also an English-literature scholar (President of the Korean Association of Modern Fiction in English and the American Studies Association of Korea), which is excellent inasmuch as it means he should understand what kind of literature ‘works’ in English-speaking circles. A quick Google search reveals that Kim is a clever cultural analyst, as in this article in which he compares the “American Dream” to US reality and then to the Korean dream. He at least reveals himself to be an accomplished writer.^^

Dreams are fragile in nature and thus can be shattered easily. Oftentimes, dreams can recede, and even turn into nightmares. Nevertheless, it is our dream that sustains us in hard times. We hope America can restore the American dream that has inspired so many nations on earth. We also hope that the Korean dream can inspire many countries in Asia. After all, how can we live without a dream?

Kim has already worked with LTI Korea and was a participant in the excellent project between LTI Korea and Dalkey Archive Press. He also seems to understand the importance of marketing and PR, noting that reviews are a critical part of any successful modern literature.

And, of course, Kim ends with the traditional (and I should say sensible) claim that this will require money to accomplish:

Kim brought up the budget the institute received from the Culture Ministry this year. According to the ministry, KLTI received about 6.9 billion won.

“The minister has told me to develop this institution as ‘the center of Korean literature and culture,’” said Kim. “But we certainly need more support in order to do that.”



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