Two Good Articles: Marzena Stefanska (Poland) and Kim Seong-Kon (KLTI)

KTLIT LogoTwo good articles in the Korea Herald, which may be doing the best job (in English at least) of covering translation of Korean literature and related issues.

First is an article on friend of the blog Marzena Stefanska, a translator and publisher who works in Polish, although she lives in London. The article includes a description of her work:

Since 2007, Stefanska has introduced some 20 works of Korean literature in her home country, including short stories by celebrated Korean author Kim Young-ha and writer Oh Jung-hee. The Polish edition of author Hwang Sun-mi’s children’s novel, “Leafie, a Hen into the Wild,” published by Stefanska’s publishing house, was named the “Best Book of Spring 2012” (Najlepsza ksika na wiosne 2012) by Granice.pl, a renowned literary organization in Poland.

What this article neglects to note is that Marzena not only came out to the Seoul Book Fair and spoke at the LTI Korea Seminar (which was beyond awesome), but she also received an award from LTI Korea for her work.

The second article is a kind of response (it seems) to a recent hit piece in the Korean press. It’s by LTI Korea Director Kim Seong-Kon, and it notes several things including the radical difference between disposable cultural exports (K-pop) and high-culture exports (literature). It’s titled The gulf between K-pop and Korean literature, and it’s worth a read.

The money quote (and it is partly a money quote!) is:

LTI Korea has long been stuck with a meager budget, which jeopardizes its projects. If one simply compares the budget of LTI Korea to other state-run institutions, you can see that the budget is far below standard. Many people do not know that LTI Korea, unlike private institutions, cannot freely spend funds. To make matters worse, LTI Korea must deal with all sorts of red tape due to its government institution status.

Since 2012, LTI Korea has been striving to radically overhaul its structure, and has made some remarkable achievements. As a result, LTI Korea received the Minster of Culture Award last year, and was awarded a Czech Government Order of Culture Merit this year. And last week, LTI Korea was selected as one of the three best public institutions in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, for the first time in its history.

I think, having some experience working with them, that LTI is definitely on the right track these days, and given that only three authors (I’m being relatively generous and including Yi Munyol) have really ‘gotten through’ on the English Language side of literature, it’s a bit too early to be making any judgements, particularly given that LTI is barely a decade old.

2 thoughts on “Two Good Articles: Marzena Stefanska (Poland) and Kim Seong-Kon (KLTI)

  1. The key is whether LTI understands that its future — if it wants to attract real publishers — is middle-brow literature and not high brow literature.

    A really good Korean spy thriller would be infinitely more useful than ten volumes of Korean classical poetry, if the goal is to gain readership and sales.

  2. Charles,

    My recent interactions with LTI Korea tell me they do understand this – that it is “pushing a string” to translate the highbrow stuff. The rest of the industry, however, is approaching this understanding in fits and starts…

    I think my answer on your other post, covers some of my feelings…

    Thanks for commenting.

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