Throughout the twentieth century, few countries in Asia suffered more from foreign occupation, civil war, and international military conflict than Korea. The Colors of Dawn brings together the moving and powerful voices of over forty Korean poets from these turbulent years. From 1903 to 1945, the Japanese Empire occupied the Korean peninsula and instituted measures to annihilate the nation and its culture. After Japan's defeat in WWII, Korea became a killing ground during the Korean War (1950 to 1953). During this period and into the 1980s, South Korea was controlled by a military dictatorship, and today it remains on war footing. In the midst of internal and external conflicts, Korea's poets—threatened by the authorities with torture, imprisonment, and death—found ways to express their fierce desire for freedom and self-governance. The result is a century of outstanding poetry, from Sim Hun (1901) to more familiar modern and contemporary poets, such as Kim Chi-ha and Ko Ŭn.


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