Walking back from a dinner with Mona Baker, I happened to look to my left and see the Korean Museum of Modern Literature (the link is their home page). It was hiding in plain sight, right across the street from Dongguk University. It was closed, but this week I went to check it out. Interesting – it is completely tucked away off the street and I visited twice. The first time it was untroubled by visitors and the docent kind of wandered out of a back room, took one look at me and wandered back into her office and closed the door. The second time two young men were visiting, taking pictures, but for the most part the place is pretty desolate.
While the museum focuses on “modern” literature, I’d estimate that 80-90% of the featured authors are dead. I did not see Park Wanseo or Kim Young-ha, really anyone who is still publishing.
Everything is exclusively in Korean (which is not a complaint, since this is Korean Literature), so I was reduced to scanning for what names I could recognize.
I did immediately recognize the rather large photo of Yi Sang which is stretched over the top of some kind of modern-art installation that I couldn’t quite suss out; something about rows of clear boxes and numbers. It was opaque to me.
The museum is right next to Dongguk Station on Line 3 of the Seoul Subway. Go out exit one, walk about 150 feet and turn right at this sign (which I inconveniently snapped from the other side). Up a driveway, through a parking lot, and you’re there.