A good article (LOL, not just because it quotes me) over at KoreAm Magazine, discussing the (so far) failure of Korean literature to take off in the same way that some other Korean cultural representations have. It’s Korean Literature Still Lost in Translation: Waiting for K-lit to Take Flight, by Chelsea Hawkins (who, I should note, is interviewed this Sunday at 7pm Seoul Time on Arirang’s Catch The Wave, and by yours truly^^). I suppose my money quote is:
“If I were outside of Korea, in L.A. for instance, and went to a cocktail party, everybody would have a Japanese author and everybody would have a Russian author,” said the Seoul-based Montgomery, who runs the blog, ktlit.com, which discusses Korean literature in translation, and publishes reviews and author interviews. “If you asked that question about Korean literature, nobody has an author.”
I also talk a bit about the necessity to choose appropriate works to translate. Translator Kevin O’Rourke also notes that translation approaches have been too literal in the past and books have been published by firms with little chance of success. Translator Jenny Wang Medina notes a couple of hopeful trends including increased support for translators and publishers (LTI Korea, for instance, has been working hard on this) and the new wave of kyopo interest in Korea, which promises fresh and more bi-cultural translators in the near future.
In the interview with Chelsea Hawkins this Sunday on Arirang, we talk a little bit about how the IamKoream.com website is a good aggregation-site if you are interested in Korean news, and the magazine KoreAm is available by subscription, and focuses more closely on the Korean-American experience.