It has been a while since KTLIT visited an important literary location in Korea. Today we went to the mother of all locations, the Korean Literary Translation Institute. It’s an interesting place for at least two reasons.
- First, it is the organization charged by the government with promulgating Korean Translated Literature through the world (and this is in ALL languages, not just English).
- Second, it has a truly cool lending library of books about translations, and translations in several languages.
- Third (ok, I can’t count), it is sponsoring the upcoming Young Writers Festival, about which I post more details shortly (Yay! Part of it will be at Dongguk!).
Anyway.. to make it easier to get there (all Korean web maps seem to be based on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle) I include this ‘improved’ map:
We finally did get there and it looks a bit like this from the outside (It is just past the “Folk Song Museum”):
The translation work occurs on the 5th floor. The guard on the first floor is extremely nice, but has no English. My poor Korean understanding was enough to get that he was telling us the library was closed (it was lunchtime, of course) and to go to the 5th floor. There we met several incredibly friendly staffers, one of whom took us into a conference room, showed us the KLTI promotional viewbook, which is chock full of interesting info, including the fact that the KLTI’s focus is not just on literature, but expanding to any art form that can expand Korea’s international cultural imprint. Here is their vision:
- Innovative support system for translation and overseas publishing
- Promotion of cross-cultural literary exchange
- Building of human infrastructure
- Strengthened research support
Which I kind of have to admit, I’m all for. ^^ On the first floor, though, is the treasure.. a library that ANY foreigner can use. You walk in, browse, choose your book, show the clerk your Foreigner Registration Card and then walk away with your book for two weeks.
When we walked in the library was empty and it was also empty when we walked out. This might have been because it was Wednesday afternoon, or perhaps that it had snowed. Still, the library seems like an underutilized resource, and the staff was willing to stand in the stacks with us and recommend translated works
This is a killer, if unknown, resource for expats in Seoul who are interested in Korean literature.