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Korean literature event with the City of Bucheon

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    Republic of Korea
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LTI Korea and the City of Bucheon Co-host ‘Three Korean Literary Works Through the Lens of Asian Translation’ Event

On October 12, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) (President: Kim Sa-in) co-hosted a Korean literature event with the City of Bucheon to celebrate the first anniversary of the latter’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. Seven translators who worked tirelessly to promote Korean literature in Asia, and Korean author Kim Ae-ran (writer of Run, Dad, Run, recently translated and published in Japan) were invited the event. The guests actively engaged with the citizens of Bucheon and the avid readers in attendance, sharing their experiences of translating Korean literature.

Literary critic Heo Hui kicked off the event as the moderator, emceeing for the three sessions. Each session was dedicated to one work of Korean literature—The Vegetarian, <Hangari (Clay Jar)>, and Run, Dad, Run respectively—and consisted of a discussion between the translators about the translation process and a reading of an excerpt from the translation. In the first session, translators Qian Ri, Kim Hun-a, and Hoang Hai Van (for Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese respectively) spoke about public reception to The Vegetarian in their respective language groups and their perspectives as translators on the cold but beautiful novel by Han Kang. After the discussion, the translators and Bucheon-based writer Professor Woo Hyeong-suk read out excerpts from The Vegetarian, giving audiences a look into the crossing of languages in the process of translation.

At the second session, translators of Korean writer Jeong Ho-seung’s anthology <Hangari (Clay Jar)> spoke about their reasons for translating the work and the responses from local readers in their target languages. Vietnamese translator Nguyen Ngoc Que discussed hearing from a student who had been intending to commit suicide, who read the translation of <Hangari (Clay Jar)> and found new hope in life, and how delightful it was to be able to share joy and life lessons with the young people of Vietnam. After the discussion, Nguyen and the Chinese translator Jin Ming Shun did a relay reading of the short story by Jeong with the citizens of Bucheon in charge of the Korean text.

The third session was focused on the translation of Run, Dad, Run, with author Kim Ae-ran as a special guest. Chinese translator Xu Xian Zhe and Japanese translator Furukawa Ayako started the session by explaining how they came to translate this work, and describing how readers in their respective language groups view Kim Ae-ran. Xu Xian Zhe commented, “Chinese readers agree that Kim is a genius on par with Han Kang, and often point to her as a potential Nobel Prize candidate.” The session led into a discussion on the translation of colloquialism and onomatopoeia into Chinese and Japanese, giving audiences insight into the problems faced by translators.

The event concluded with a quiz on the preceding discussions and the featured works, with prizes awarded to audience members. The autograph session was packed with fans, bringing the lively day to a close. The event at Bucheon was a rare opportunity to bring together translators of the same work from different language groups together to help build a sense of community, as well as create a forum of communication with readers with an interest in Korean literature and translation.

Prominent works of Korean literature translated and published in the Asia region with LTI Korea’s support were displayed at the venue lobby. Promotional material and videos for LTI Korea were also placed in the area to raise awareness about the institute’s activities.

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