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Observing the Stature of K-Literature Through Foreign Literary Awards

 

2021.10.05

 

Korean literature was first introduced to foreign countries in the late 19th century. However, it wasn’t until after works of Korean literature started receiving literary awards abroad that they were translated and published full-scale in foreign countries, attracting foreign readers and grabbing the interest of major publishers and publishing agencies in foreign countries.
Some awards have been given to works of Korean literature since the early 2000s, but ever since Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-Sook received the Man Asian Literary Prize, works of Korean literature have continuously been winning literary prizes, and the number of those prizes have been increasing as well.
Since 2012, when Castella by Park Min-Gyu received the Japan Translation Award in 2015, and The Vegetarian by Han Gang was the winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016, interest in Korean literature has grown. After these works received literary awards, foreign media have actively started providing reports on Korean literary works and Korean authors. Also, an increasing number of readers have been showing interest in Korean literature ever since.
This naturally led to Korean literary works of various genres getting translated into many different languages and published in lots of foreign countries. It also led to the establishment of foreign publishing agencies and foreign publishers. Moreover, there has been an increasing number of foreigners who receive educational training at the translating academy of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea to go on and work as professional translators in the field, due to their interest in translating Korean literature that is something more than the kind of interest a foreign reader of Korean literature displays.
The following shows works of Korean literature that have received literary awards and those works that have been published in other countries since after 2012.

 

Korean Works That Received Foreign Literary Awards After 2012

 

Man Asian Literary Prize (2012)

 

1위

 

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin (Changbi Publishers)

 

Translator Kim Chi-Young
Foreign Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Countries Published in Under Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 14 countries
Prix de l’inapercu Award (2014)

 

1위

 

Run, Pop, Run! by Kim Ae-ran (Changbi Publishers)

 

Translator Kim Hye-Gyeong, Jean-Claude de Crescenzo
Foreign Publisher Decrescenzo Éditeurs
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 7 countries
Best Translation Award, Japan (2015)

 

3위

 

Castella by Park Min-Gyu (Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.)

 

Translator Saito Mariko (ヒョン・ジェフン)
Foreign Publisher CRANE
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 8 countries
The Man Booker International Prize (2016)

 

4위

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Changbi Publishers)

 

Translator Deborah Smith
Foreign Publisher Portobello Books
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 22 countries
Premio Malaparte Award (2017)

 

5위

 

Human Acts: A Novel by Han Kang (Changbi Publishers)

 

Translator Milena Zemira Ciccimarra
Foreign Publisher Adelphi Edizioni
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 17 countries
Premio Selezione Bancarella Award (2017)

 

6위

 

Investigation by Lee Jung-Myung (EunHaengNaMu Publishing)

 

Translator Benedetta Merlini
Foreign Publisher Sellerio
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 1 country
Pen Translates Award (2017)

 

7위

 

The Accusation by Bandi (Dasan Books)

 

Translator Deborah Smith
Foreign Publisher Serpent’s Tail
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 3 countries
Emile Gimet Prize for Asian Literature (2018)

 

7위

 

At Dusk by Hwang Sok-Yong (Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.)

 

Translator Choi Mikyung
Foreign Publisher Éditions Philippe Picquier
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 5 countries
Prix Cameleon Award (2018)

 

9위

 

Banggakbon Murder by Kim Tak-Hwan (Minumsa)

 

Translator Lim Yeong-Hee, Françoise Nagel
Foreign Publisher Éditions Philippe Picquier
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 2 countries
Shriley Jackson Awards (2018)

 

9위

 

The Hole by Pyun Hye-Young (Moonji Books)

 

Translator Sora Kim-Russell
Foreign Publisher Skyhorsing Publishing
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 7 countries
Premio Literario San Clemente Rosalía-Abanca Award (2018)

 

9위

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Changbi Publishers)

 

Translator Sunme Yoon
Foreign Publisher RATA
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 22 countries
Best Translation Award, Japan (2018)

 

9위

 

Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-Ha (Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.)

 

Translator Yoshikawa Nagi (吉川 凪)
Foreign Publisher CUON
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 10 countries
The Griffin Poetry Prize (2019)
Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize (2019)

 

9위

 

Autobiography of Death by Kim Hye-Soon (Munhak Silhum)

 

Translator Don Mee Choi
Foreign Publisher New Directions
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 4 countries
The Harvey Award (2020)

 

9위

 

Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim (Bori Book)

 

Translator Janet Hong
Foreign Publisher Drawn & Quarterly
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 7 countries
National Translation Award (2020)
Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize (2020)

 

9위

 

Hysteria by Kim Yi-Deum (Moonji Books)

 

Translator Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, Hedgie Choi
Foreign Publisher Action Books
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 1 country

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, the 2016 Man Booker International Award award-winner, established a range of foreign readers of Korean literature. The publication rights were sold to 25 countries worldwide, as a sequence novel written from a sensual perspective about a woman who resists violence and eliminates desire amidst destructive lives.
Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-Ha has successively received good reviews from German media. It clearly displays the abyss of a human being through an extreme process of dementia in which memory loss leads to the dissolution of personality. Also, the German news Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and radio broadcast, “Deutschlandfunk” both selected the work as the best mystery novel of April, 2020.
The Crime Writer Association Dagger winner, The Disaster Tourist: A Novel (Minumsa) by Yoon Go-Eun, was listed as one of 12 recommended books you must read in Time in August of 2020. The UK’s The Guardian and other foreign media, evaluated it as an interesting eco-thriller that re-examined the relationship between climate change and world capitalism. Also, it is seen as a gloomy satire novel on capitalism that shakes the pandemic generation.
Due to the news of Korean winners of foreign literary awards, other works in Korean literature are getting the spotlight from major foreign press. The recent works that got the spotlight from foreign presses include Untold Night and Day by Bae Su-Ah, Seven Years of Darkness and The Good Son by Jeong You-Jeong, The Plotters by Kim Un-Su, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo, ALMOND by Son Won-Pyeong, etc.

 

Recent Korean Literary Works Grabbing the Interest of Foreign Press

 

 

1위

 

The Good Son by Jeong You-Jeong (EunHaengNaMu Publishing)

 

Translator Kim Chi-Young
Foreign Publisher (English-speaking country) Little Brown Book Group UK
Year Published Abroad 2018
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 14 countries

 

1위

 

The Plotters by Kim Un-Su (Munhakdongne Publishing Corp.)

 

Translator Sora Kim-Russell
Foreign Publisher (English-speaking country) 4th Estate
Year Published Abroad 2019
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 11 countries

 

3위

 

Untold Night and Day by Bae Su-Ah (Jaeum&Moeum Publishing)

 

Translator Deborah Smith
Foreign Publisher (English-speaking country) Jonathan Cape
Year Published Abroad 2020
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 4 countries

 

4위

 

Seven Years of Darkness by Jeong You-Jeong (EunHaengNaMu Publishing)

 

Translator Kim Chi-Young
Foreign Publisher (English-speaking country) PENGUIN BOOKS
Year Published Abroad 2020
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 13 countries

 

5위

 

ALMOND by Son Won-pyung (Changbi Publishers)

 

Translator Lee Joo-Sun
Foreign Publisher (English-speaking country) Harpervia
Year Published Abroad 2020
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 5 countries

 

6위

 

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-joo (Minumsa)

 

Translator Jamie Chang
Foreign Publisher (English-speaking country) Scribner UK
Year Published Abroad 2021
Published Abroad Under the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in 14 countries

 

The Plotters by Kim Un-Su has been nominated for the French mystery literature award. A prominent American publisher, Doubleday, paid a large sum of deposit in 2018 to buy the copyright of this novel. Afterward, in 2019, it was selected as the “Best Winter Thriller” by New York Times (United States), and its copyright was sold in 20 different countries.
ALMOND by Son Won-Pyeong, which sold more than 100,000 copies in Japan, was selected as the Best Book of May 2020 by Amazon (United States). In addition, it was the first out of the Asian countries to receive the Best Translated Book Award given to works in bookstores of Japan.
Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo, portrays the mental scars a woman gets from society’s contempt. It was nominated for France’s Emile Gimet Prize for Asian Literature, published in 26 countries worldwide, and at least 600,000 copies were sold. Also, it portrays how the issue of discrimination against women and the pain they go through is observed.
Moreover, many works of Korean literature winning literary awards have added the effect of being the starting point in making dramas or movies based on Korean literature.
Not only has there been an increase visibly in the encouragement of Korean literature from a variety of sources in foreign countries, but the political, social, and general topics of humanity have touched the hearts of many people worldwide and show that this connection is gradually expanding.
Thus, one can say that Korean literature is being recognized for its literary value and popular appeal through the awards it’s getting from foreign countries. This means that Korean literature now is not merely “Korea’s literature,” but is being recognized as “a part of world literature.”
The Literature Translation Institute of Korea and Arirang International Broadcast are running a program titled “Exploring Korean Literature” starting from August and ending in December. This program aims to provide a chance for people around the world to experience the recently hot trending Korean literary works more closely. This program can be watched on YouTube (www.youtube.com/c/KltiOrKr), and is expected to comfort the minds of people worldwide, who are facing struggles living in a world with COVID-19.

 

“Exploring Korean Literature” Scheduled Broadcast

 

Episode 1 - 8.13.(Fri.) Topic What They’ve Read – One Left by Kim Soom
Starring Translator Darcy Paquet, Colin Marshall, Architect Simone Carena family
Episode 2 - 8.20.(Fri.) Topic What They’ve Read - Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
Starring 4 foreign influencers residing in Korea
Episode 3 - 8.27.(Fri.) Topic What They’ve Read – Diary of a Murderer by Kim Young-Ha
Starring Singer Howon (W24)
Episode 4 - 9.3.(Fri.) Topic Living to Tell a Story – A Different Perspective of an Author (working title)
Starring Poet Kim I-Deum, Novelists Kim Cho-Yeop, Kim Yeon-Su
Episode 5 - 9.10.(Fri.) Topic Living to Tell a Story – The One Who Has Their Language (working title)
Starring Novelists Yoon Go-Eun, Ha Seong-Ran, Poet Jin Eun-Yeong
Episode 6 - 9.17.(Fri.) Topic Living to Tell a Story – The Generation’s Clown or Kassandra (working title)
Starring Novelist Hwang Sok-yong
*9. 24.(Fri.)~10. 29.(Fri.) Episodes 1-6 broadcasted in order
Episode 7 - 11.5.(Fri.) Topic A World Depicted in Stories – Female Poets in Classical Literature
Episode 8 - 11.12.(Fri.) Topic A World Depicted in Stories – Makeup Culture
Episode 9 - 11.19.(Fri.) Topic A World Depicted in Stories – Wine and Arts
Episode 10 - 11.26.(Fri.) Topic A World Depicted in Stories – Tea Ceremony
Episode 11 - 12.3.(Fri.) Topic A World Depicted in Stories - Pets
Episode 12 - 12.10.(Fri.) Topic A World Depicted in Stories – Literary Discussion Forum

 

 


Written by Kwak Hyeon-Ju (Translation Education Director of Literature Translation Institute of Korea)

 

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Kwak Hyeon-Ju (Translation Education Director of Literature Translation Institute of Korea)

#Literary Awards#Literature Translation Institute of Korea#Prize#K-Literature
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