I’m a bad editor as I never actually did post the essays that won the Early Spring, Mid-Summer essay contest.
Now, finally, here is the awesome essay by Grace Jung (who turns out to be a skilled translator) that won the book that I have just recently (did I mention that I am lame?) sent to her penthouse apartment in the state of New York.^^
The move I made to explore Korean literature was conscious and deliberate. It wasn’t an assigned task or something strongly recommended by fellow book lovers around me. Back in 2008, during my junior year in college, an English professor lightly suggested it. At the time, I had read a number of modern fiction and poetry by European writers in translation. I took his suggestion very seriously because the thought to ever read Korean literature had never occurred to me up till then, in spite of being Korean by birth and majoring in literature. This is still a mystery to me.
I purchased Modern Korean Fiction: An Anthology edited by Bruce Fulton and Youngmin Kwon. The stories I read began a meaningful journey for me. The content, which I see a continuation of in contemporary Korean cinema today, was pleasantly shocking, and they stirred a curiosity in me to know more about the people’s day-to-day, which was mostly in pain and anguish. I sensed a close and private connection to my homeland through the characters.
In 2009, I went to Korea on a Fulbright grant to research Modern Korean literature with a focus on publications from the colonial period. The topic was diversity in voices and perspectives in spite of Korea’s attempt at oneness during
the Japanese occupation. During that time, I also began to translate Korean fiction and poetry into English.
Since my return to New York, I’ve translated poems by Yi Sang and a novella by Lee Cheong-jun. I’ve befriended writers like Kim Young-ha, as well as translators Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton, and Jenny Wang Medina.
I’d like to add this grand publication to my collection to continue the pursuit I have made in this field up till now. With many other projects currently underway, all relevant to this field, I’d like to keep my appetite for Korean literature whetted and my interests up.