LTI Korea triumph – Early Modern Korean Fiction Classics for Free!

LTILogoLTI Korea, fresh off successes with its Dalkey Publications Books and the the conclusion of the first stage of its Wikipedia Project, is now pushing Korean translated literature into the e-sphere. Yesterday twenty stories from Korea’s early modern period became available for free as PDFs. And… oh, yeah.. there’s an app if you want to use that!

But first.. Go Here and see the splendor. 20 works by authors who are not only famous in Korea, but make sense to non-Koreans, and are translated by some of today’s cutting-edge translators. Not a point to belabor at this moment, but it is clear some new translators are emerging and doing awesome work.

These are some of the key works and artists of early-modern Korean literature (Yi – freaking – Sang!!). The breadth and width of this collection is going to reduce me to a bullet list. But a regular reader of this blog will notice that the authors and translators are all quite famous for the quality of their work and so, this is, in a word, awesome! Just the Chae Man-shik pieces alone, with what he has already published, could represent a short course in Japanese colonialism and responses to it.

In the technical jargon of literary criticism?

This collection rocks.

  • Broken Strings by Gang Gyeong-ae, Translated by Sora Kim-Russell
  • Lashing by Kim Dong-in (yeah, the one with the award named after him). tTranslated by Stephen Epstein and Kim Mi Young
  • Tale of a Mad Painter by Kim Dong-in, translated by Stephen Epstein and Kim Mi Young
  • The Golden Bean Patch by Kim Yu-jeong (the awesome author of Camellias). Translated by Eugene Larsen-Hallock
  • The Heat of the Sun (not quite as good, or emotionally accurate a title as “The Scorching Heat”, which is previously published) by Kim Yu-jeong. Translated  by Eugene Larsen-Hallock.
  • Home by Hyun Jin-geon  Translated by Sora Kim-Russell.
  • Poor Man’s Wife (different from the story of the same title by Eun Hee-Kyung) by Hyun Jin-geon. Translated by Sora Kim-Russell.
  • After Beating Your Wife (immediate winner for most problematic title) by Kim Nam-cheon. Translated by Jenny Wang Medina.
  • Management by Kim Nam-cheon. Translated by Jenny Wang Medina.
  • Into the Light by Kim Sa-ryang. Translated by by Jane Kim.
  • The Water Mill by Na Do-hyang. Translated by by Jane Kim.
  • Poverty by Baek Sin-ae. Translated by Janet Hong/
  • Gwasil by Yi Gwang-su, Translated by Peter Lee.
  • Child’s Bone by Yi Sang (yeah, him!). Translated by Janet Hong.
  • The Farmers by Jo Myeong-hui. Translated by Peter Lee.
  • Frozen Fish by Chae Manshik (a great satirist, among other things). Translated by by Myles Ji.
  • Transgressor of the Nation by Chae Manshik. Translated by by Jane Kim.
  • Harbin by Yi Hyo-seok. Translated by Ally Hwang.
  • Bunnyeo by Yi Hyo-seok. Translated by Ally Hwang.

* Download the app for iPhone/iPad:

* Don’t have any Apple devices? It’s fine, you can still read the books in pdf format on your PC and mobile:

This is beyond awesome if you want to get a background in early-modern Korean literature, which largely set the table for what was to follow.

Go check it out.





3 thoughts on “LTI Korea triumph – Early Modern Korean Fiction Classics for Free!

  1. Free is nice, but it strikes me as kind of typical they choose to release ebooks as (ereader-unfriendly) PDFs, rather than in the range of formats that most free ebook releases (put up on sites like PRoject Gutenberg or Manybooks) are available in? I read on Kindle, and frankly neither a iPhone/iPad app, nor PDF, are particularly of any use to me.

    I mean, free is nice, but they’re unnecessarily limiting their audience. Severely.

  2. I guess we just look at different sections of the water glass.^^
    They’ve also put work out on Amazon Crossing with Google Books to be next (I hear).
    Also.. PDFs work on my wife’s Kindle (after a three second conversion), but that might be different from model to model?

  3. No, I’m not focusing on the empty part of the water glass: as I said, it’s very nice that they released these for free. But I’m saying that they’re unnecessarily limiting the number of people who are going to read these books, by releasing them in the least ereader-friendly formats possible: a PDF file and a walled-garden app… for no apparent reason except perhaps just failing to get it about how many different ereaders are out there, and how people in the English-speaking world go about releasing things they actually want read by as many people as possible. “Splendor” and “triumph” would be a fair assessment if I visited the page and downloaded .mobis of those stories and had them loaded into my Kindle before you could say boo: instead, I clicked on the cover, and was redirected to a PDF (without any warning that was about to happen) and that was it. I went back to the previous page, looked at all the PDFs, and thought, “Why didn’t they just compile all these short stories into a single ebook?”

    Even if they did choose to release it all in individual short texts–that’s fine–but Project Gutenberg or are great examples of releasing work accessible in a wide range of platforms, to meet a wide range of readers’ needs. It’s really not hard. It’s actually very easy, and sort of obvious. I mean, sure, PDF is better than releasing everything some kind of locked .hwp file format and then wondering why the world isn’t downloading them en masse, but PDF-only is really not a particularly credible choice, unless you’re aiming this at college professors who need handouts for students. (I’d argue .epub + PDF is the most sensible set of formats, if you want to be minimalistic. epub, mobi, and PDF covers most of your bases. Epub alone would be better than PDF: it’s compatible with many ebook readers, or easily converted for those that can’t read epub.)

    I’m talking more about the awareness of a publisher who is apparently seeking to promote Korean literary culture to the world. A little more awareness and creditability in terms of putting things out there would go a long way to actually getting people to access it. You have a vested interest in this stuff, so you’re likelier go through some degree of work to access it: most people won’t, though, especially not in a world where oodles of stuff not needing conversion is immediately available to them. It’s that simple.

    By the way, I’m at least computer-savvy enough that people routinely come to me for help with their computers, but unlike you I’ve had serious problems with converting PDFs for my Kindle. If I’m struggling so are other people, trust me. Now, I’m not sure if it’s just a problem in Calibre on Mac OSX but I have been pretty unimpressed with all the other solutions I’ve tried. Out of curiosity, what software and what OS are you using when you make your conversions? Or are you using Amazon’s online conversion system? I should admit I haven’t tried the native Amazon converter, mainly because most of the PDFs I’ve wanted to read are the printed-page-as-graphic-scanned-to-PDF type files that wouldn’t convert easily anyway. (They’d need very sophisticated OCR and proofreading.)

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