The Literature Translation Institute of Korea has been actively working to showcase English translations of modern Korean literature. Last year, they collaborated with Dalkey Archive to bring out the first ten of a planned twenty-five book set of modern Korean literature “aim[ed] to introduce the intellectual and aesthetic diversity of contemporary Korean writing to English Language Readers” (see The Dalkey Archive webpage here).
These twenty works are the equivalent of a free collection of modern colonial fiction of Korea that give an overseas reader a snapshot of the first “modern” Korean literature and its styles, themes and discontents.
I don’t plan to cover them individually here (indeed, I have only read the first one), but I wanted to point the way to anyone else who was interested. You can access each of the following works, in PDF format, here.
- Broken Strings (Pageum, 1931), by Kang Kyung-ae (1906 – 1944)(tr. by Sora Kim-Russell)
- Lashing: Notes from a Prison Journal (Taehyeong, 1946), by Kim Dong-in (1900 – 1951) (tr. by Stephen Epstein and Kim Mi Young)
- Tale of a Mad Painter (Gwanghwasa, 1935), by Kim Dong-in (tr. by Stephen Epstein and Kim Mi Young)
- The Golden Bean Patch (Geum Ttaneun Kongbat, 1935), by Kim Yu-jeong (1908 – 1937) (tr. by Eugene Larsen-Hallock)
- The Heat of the Sun (Ttaenbyeot, 1937), by Kim Yu-jeong (tr. by Eugene Larsen-Hallock)
- Home (Gohyang, 1926), by Hyun Jin-geon (1900 – 1943) (tr. by Sora Kim-Russell)
- Poor Man’s Wife (Bincheo, 1921), by Hyun Jin-geon (tr. by Sora Kim-Russell)
- After Beating Your Wife . . . (Cheoreul Ttaerigo, 1937), by Kim Nam-cheon (1911 – 1953) (tr. by Jenny Wang Medina)
- Management (Gyeongyeong, 1940), by Kim Nam-cheon (tr. by Jenny Wang Medina)
- Into the Light (Bit Sokae, 1939), by Kim Sa-ryang (1914 – 1950) (tr. by Jane Kim)
- The Water Mill (Mullaebanga, 1925), by Na Do-hyang (1902 – 1927) (tr. by Jane Kim)
- Poverty (Jeokbin, 1934), by Baek Sin-ae (1908 – 1939) (tr. by Janet Hong)
- Gasil (Gasil, 1923), by Yi Kwang-su (1892 – 1950) (tr. by Peter Lee)
- Child’s Bone (Donghae, 1937), by Yi Sang (1910 – 1937) (tr. by Janet Hong)
- Dying Words (Jongsaenggi, 1937), by Yi Sang (tr. by Jack Jung and Janet Hong)
- The Farmers (Nongchon Saramdeul, 1927), by Cho Myung-hee (1894 – 1938) (tr. by Peter Lee)
- Frozen Fish (Naengdongeo, 1940), by Chae Man-sik (1902 – 1950) (tr. by Myles Ji)
- Transgressor of the Nation (Minjokui Joein, 1948 – 1949), by Chae Man-sik (tr. by Jane Kim)
- Harbin (Harbin, 1940), by Lee Hyo-seok (1907 – 1942) (tr. by Ally Hwang)
- Bunnyeo (Bunnyeo, 1936), by Lee Hyo-seok (tr. by Ally Hwang)