Themes

This collection features various themes such as Korean literature, writers, events, education and research.

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1-4 of 4 Themes
  • Works
    Four German Translations by Park In-won, Winner of the 2021 LTI Korea Translation Award

    April 01, 2009 to September 28, 2016

    Literary translation is meticulous work that requires the translator to break down the language, culture, history, and emotions in the source text and put them back together in a new language. The LTI Korea Translation Award established in 1993 recognizes the contribution of translators who have played major role in mediating between Korean and world literature. Park In-won received the 2021 Translation Award for her translation of Kim Young-ha’s Diary of a Murderer into German. Park, who is an assistant professor at the Department of German Language and Literature of Ewha Womans University, has translated books by Eun Hee-kyung, Song Sokze, Kim Ae-ran, and Kim Young-ha into German. The fourth installment of our Themes Series explores Park In-won’s four favorite works of Korean literature. ㅣ Diary of a Murderer Author Kim Young-ha Publisher Munhakdongne Year of Publication 2013 Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-ha was selected as the best mystery novel of 2020 in Germany. The story unfolds around the imaginative world of the protagonist, a former serial killer, who is suffering from dementia. The author demonstrates how fear and terror can dominate individual reality by having the protagonist face his fears in his imagination. ㅣ Run, Father Author Kim Ae-ranPublisher ChangbiYear of Publication 2005 This is Kim Ae-ran’s first collection of short stories . The nine stories feature protagonists who affirm their self-worth despite their poverty or the absence of a family. In the title story, “Run, Daddy, Run,” along with “I Go to the Convenience Store,” “Paper Fish,” and “The House People Never Knock on,” Kim sheds new light on tragedy with her cheerful writing style, presenting brave characters who do not pity themselves and would not succumb to poverty. ㅣ The Last 4.5 Seconds of My Life Author Song SokzePublisher Kang Year of Publication 2003 The Last 4.5 Seconds of My Life is a collection of seven short stories that captures mundane aspects of everyday life with afresh perspective and rhythmic sentences. The book has seven short stories including “The Last 4.5 Seconds of My Life,” “First Love,” and “Early Spring.” Song’s lively writing style and warm perspective illuminate the tragic and gloomy daily life of different protagonists, including one who has decided to commit suicide and another that has been in a motorcycle accident. ㅣ Bird’s Gift Author Eun HeekyungPublisher Munhakdongne Year of Publication 1995 Jin-hee, a twelve-year-old girl who lives in the countryside with her maternal grandmother, observes the lives of the adults around her. While watching some neighbors painfully struggle to solve life’s problems and others who carelessly reveal someone’s secret, Jin-hee learns the way of the society and becomes completely disillusioned with the world. The story depicts the young protagonist’s determination not to become an untruthful, ridiculous adult from her innocent perspective. * The above information is based on the original Korean works, and their translations can be found in the links below.

  • Works
    The Five Most Popular Audiobooks among Users of the Digital Library of Korean Literature

    March 05, 2014 to June 21, 2019

    The culture of listening is reemerging amid the expansion of podcasts, social audio platforms, and audio content subscription services. Could this be because of easy access to the content in our daily life? The audiobook market is rapidly growing around the world, as audiobooks lower the threshold of reading to the current trend of audio and video over prints. Since 2015, the Digital Library of Korean Literature has provided audiobook services, keeping about sixty audiobooks in the library collection. The Digital Library of Korean Literature members can check out these audiobooks at any time. Now the Digital Library of Korean Literature presents a list of the five most popular audiobooks for the first two months of 2022 in its third part of the themes Series. Five full-length novels are on the list, including Kim JI-young, Born 1982, which has attracted constant attention. ㅣ Kim Ji-young, Born 1982  [English] Author Cho Nam-juTranslator Jamie ChangPublisher Simon & Schuster UK Year of Publication 2020Originally published in Korea by minumsa Publishers in 2016. Born in 1982, Kim Ji-young is an ordinary, married woman, who is raising a daughter. One day, she suddenly starts to show signs of a mental disorder and decides to consult a psychiatrist. However, these consultations reveal multiple forms of social discrimination against women. Because this book was published when the feminist movement was in full swing in Korea, it created a great sensation in the country. The book illustrates various situations that an ordinary woman may experience in her daily life, drawing public attention to the issue of feminism. ㅣ Dallergut Dream Department Store  [Russian] Author Lee MiyeTranslator Mikheesku LyudmilaPublisher SelfPubYear of Publication 2021Originally published in Korea by SAM&PARKERS Publishers in 2020. In a village you can enter only when you fall asleep, Dallergut Dream Department Store sells all kinds of dreams. In this hot spot, the store owner, Dallergut; an employee, Penny; and the dream creator, Agnep Coco weave episodes together into a great story. It’s a fantasy novel seeking to answer the question about whether dream creators, sellers, and buyers can exchange dreams that only exist in people’s subconsciousness. After becoming a big hit on an e-book platform, the story was released as a paper book in response to readers’ vehement requests. ㅣ Human Acts  [English] Author Han KangTranslator Deborah SmithPublisher Penguin Random House Audio Publishing GroupYear of Publication 2017Originally published in Korea by Changbi Publishers in 2014. Human Acts gives an account of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising that happened in May 1980 and the details about the survivors. Dong-ho, a middle school student, is deeply tormented over the death of his friend, Jeong-dae; other survivors also consider being alive as a disgrace, feeling so helpless that they can’t go back to their normal life. Later, Dong-ho is killed during a fight against the martial law forces. The book elaborately embodies the pain of Dong-ho and people around him by using historical evidence and newsgathering. The book won the Italian Malaparte Prize in 2017. ㅣ Lemon  [Russian] Author Kwon Yeo-sunTranslator Mikheesku LyudmilaPublisher ACTYear of Publication 2021Originally published in Korea by Changbi Publishers in 2019. In the summer of 2002, when the FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup sent the entire country into a frenzy of excitement, a high school girl was murdered. The story observes the lives of people involved in the murder case and the death that couldn’t be properly mourned. Hae-on, an eighteen-year-old high school girl was found dead in a park. Seventeen years have passed, but the perpetrator has not been caught. At that time, Da-on was sixteen years old and regarded her sister’s death as a kind of destruction of a beautiful form. Yet, as time passes, she undergoes perceptual changes. Through this story, the writer questions the existence of God and the meaning of life and death. ㅣ Free Food for Millionaires  [English] Author Lee Min JinTranslator -Publisher W F HowesYear of Publication 2018Originally published in Korea by ImageBOX Publishers in 2008. Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee depicts the conflicts, worries, and challenges of three Korean Americans: Casey, Leah, and Ella. Unlike their parents, who went through a lot of hardships in the early days of their immigration to the US, these young girls have graduated from colleges and are getting ready to blend into American society. However, they find racial and ethnic issues to still be major obstacles. The story illuminates each individual, who, unable to find their identity as a Korean American, struggles to survive their reality.

  • Works
    The Five Most Popular Korean Literary Works among Overseas Readers (2016–2020)

    March 05, 2014 to March 27, 2014

    How many Korean literary works are read by international readers in a year? In 2021, more than two-hundred Korean books were introduced overseas. At the beginning of the K-Literature Wave, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) examined the sales of Korean books published overseas with the support of LTI Korea from 2016 to 2020. And the most popular work abroad over the past five years turned out to be Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, which sold more than three hundred copies in ten languages, followed by The Vegetarian, which sold more than one hundred and sixty copies in thirteen languages. The Digital Library of Korean Literature has selected the five most popular Korean literary works among international readers for the second installment of the Themes Series. When combined with the writer’s delicate style that elaborates on the character’s emotions, the stories of the characters struggling with their harsh realities create a universal resonance. ㅣ Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 Author Cho Nam-juPublisher MineumsaYear of Publication 2016 Born in 1982, Kim Ji-young is an ordinary, married woman, who is raising a daughter. One day, she suddenly starts to show signs of a mental disorder and decides to consult a psychiatrist. However, these consultations reveal multiple forms of social discrimination against women. Because this book was published when the feminist movement was in full swing in Korea, it created a great sensation in the country. The book illustrates various situations that an ordinary woman may experience in her daily life, drawing public attention to the issue of feminism. The book has sold more than three hundred copies in ten different languages. ㅣ The Vegetarian Author Han KangPublisher ChangbiYear of Publication 2007 The Vegetarian is a three-part novella, published in 2007. It won the Man Booker Prize in 2016. Each novella—The Vegetarian, Mongolian Mark, and Flaming Trees —has different narrative voices, although they revolve around the same main character. In thesethree stories, Han Kang depicts various themes such as the pain of a wounded soul, human desire, vegetation, existence, and death. The book has sold more than 160,000 copies in thirteen languages. ㅣ Almond Author Sohn Won-pyungPublisher Changbi Year of Publication 2017 Almond was selected as the “Best Translated Novel” by Japanese bookstore employees in 2020, having sold more than ninety-thousand copies in Japan. The story depicts the evolution of Yunjae, a fifteen-year-old boy who has Alexithymia, a condition that makes it hard for him to experience feelings or emotions. As the story unfolds, Yunjae learns to interact with others. He grows up happy and content, thanks to theutmost care of his mother and grandmother—until an unfortunate incident happens to his family. Then, a boy named Gon appears in front of Yunjae who’s trapped in darkness and fear. The two boys, who have both experienced loss, grow up forming an unexpected bond of solidarity. The story focuses on the courage and willpower needed to step forward into a better world. ㅣ The Good Son Author Jeong You-JeongPublisher EunHaeng NaMuYear of Publication 2016 A once promising swimmer, Han Yu-jin, has lived a spiritless life under the supervision of his mother and aunt. He sometimes slips out of the house under cover of night without taking the mysterious medicine prescribed by his psychiatrist aunt.One day he returns home only to find his mother murdered. The story vividly captures and embodies the moment when evil is engendered in human hearts and how it evolves. The book was published in nine different languages, selling over twenty-thousand copies in Brazil alone. ㅣ Diary of a Murderer Author Kim Young-haPublisher MunhakdongneYear of Publication 2013 Byeongsu is a former serial killer, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He encounters Taejoo in a car accident and instinctively realizes that he is also a murderer. Byeongsu reports him to the police, but no one believes him. Taejoo lingers around Byeongsu and his adopted daughter, Eun-hee. Byeongsu becomes desperate in his pursuit after him. In the meantime, Byeongsu’s killing inclination renews, confusing him between delusion and reality. This book won the 2020 German Prize for Crime Fiction in the international category and soldmore than ten thousand copies in Germany alone.

  • Works
    The Five Most Popular E-books among Users of the Digital Library of Korean Literature

    March 05, 2014 to March 25, 2021

    The Digital Library of Korean Literature has been offering a wide array of e-book services since 2015 and boasts of about 700 e-books as of today. If you’re a member of the Digital Library of Korean Literature, you’re only one click away from accessing these books. For its first Themes Series, The Digital Library of Korean Literature has prepared a list of five most popular e-books among users of the library in the first half of 2022: four novels including My Brilliant Life, and one graphic novel, Grass. The list demonstrates the readers’ steady interest in stories involving different family structures, feminism, and historicity. ㅣ My Brilliant Life Author Kim Ae-ranTranslator Chi-Young KimPublisher Tom Doherty AssociatesYear of Publication 2021Originally published in Korea by Changbi Publishers in 2011. My Brilliant Life by Kim Ae-ran was published in 2011 in Korea. The story revolves around a young couple and their son who has progeria, a degenerative disease that causes accelerating aging. The young couple tries their best to look after and protect Areum, their rapidly-aging son. Areum’s family decides to focus their life on trust and love for each other, rather than on Areum’s aging body. Areum likes reading and writing, and one day these hobbies lead him to Seoha, a girl his own age, who has bone cancer, and they gradually open up their hearts to each other. The novel was made into a movie with the same title. ㅣ Grass Author Keum Suk Gendry-KimTranslator Janet HongPublisher Drawn & QuarterlyYear of Publication 2020Originally published in Korea by Bori Publishers in 2017. Grass is a graphic novel that follows the life of Granny Lee Ok-sun, who was forced to become a sex slave for the Japanese military. As a child, she wanted to go to school; instead, she was sold to work in an udon noodle shop, then a bar, and finally forced to become a military sex slave in China. Fifty-five years after the war ended, she finally made it back to her hometown. The story doesn’t exaggerate the magnitude of violence in an attempt to augment hatred towards the tormentor; instead, it visualizes emotions and moods with the simple contrast of black versus white. Grass’ realistic approach is believed to help reconfirm the credibility of the testimonies from sex slaves. ㅣ Almond Author Sohn Won-pyungTranslator Sandy Joosun LeePublisher HarperCollinsYear of Publication 2020Originally published in Korea by Changbi Publishers in 2017. Almond by Sohn Won-pyung was published in 2017 in Korea and won the tenth Changbi Youth Literature Award. The story depicts the evolution of Yunjae, a fifteen-year-old boy who has Alexithymia, a condition that makes it hard for him to experience feelings or emotions. As the story unfolds, Yunjae learns to interact with others. He grows up happy and content, thanks to the utmost care of his mother and grandmother—until an unfortunate incident happens to his family. Then, a boy named Gon appears in front of Yunjae who’s trapped in darkness and fear. The two boys, who have both experienced loss, grow up forming an unexpected bond of solidarity. The story focuses on the courage and willpower needed to step forward into a better world. ㅣ Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 Author Cho Nam-juTranslator Jamie ChangPublisher LiverightYear of Publication 2020Originally published in Korea by Mineumsa Publishers in 2016. Born in 1982, Kim Ji-young is an ordinary, married woman who is raising a daughter. One day, she suddenly starts to show signs of amental disorder and decides to consult a psychiatrist. However, these consultations reveal multiple forms of social discrimination against women. Because this book was published when the feminist movement was in full swing in Korea, it created a great sensation in the country.The book illustrates various situations that an ordinary woman may experience in her daily life, drawing public attention to the issue of feminism. ㅣ Your Republic is Calling You Author Kim Young-haTranslator Chi-Young KimPublisher Houghton Mifflin HarcourtYear of Publication 2020Originally published in Korea by Munhakdongne Publishers in 2010. Your Republic is Calling You by Kim Young-ha was published in 2010 in Korea. Gi-yeong is a North Korean spy, dispatched to the South. He lives in South Korea under a false identity, biding his time to carry out a secret operation. He has a job, a wife, and leads a very ordinary life. One day, North Korea orders him to return. He has to give up everything in his South Korean life and go back to the North. Now, he must make a pivotal decision. Only twenty-five hours—a compressed time frame—is given to Gi-yeong to decide his present and future. The story sheds light on the contemporary issues we face, capturing the intersecting point of an individual’s life and a society’s history.