Wan-Sun Park and Sallee Hyuan-Jae Yee

Contemporary Poetry and Short Stories

Ehrhart, W.D. and Philip Jason (Editors). Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War (Rutgers University Press, 1999).
Important literature has come out of the Korean War. These writings are well worth our attention. Many of the 12 stories and 50 poems assembled in Retrieving Bones have long been out of print and are almost impossible to find in any other source. The editors have enhanced this collection by providing maps, a chronology of the Korean War, and annotated lists of novels, works of nonfiction, and films. In a detailed introduction, Ehrhart and Jason discuss the milestones of the Korean War and place each fiction writer and poet represented into historical and literary contexts.

Kim, Suji KwockNotes from the Divided Country (Louisanna State University Press, 2003).
In her first collection, Suji Kwock Kim confronts a number of very difficult subjects—colonialism, the Korean War, emigration, racism, and love. She considers what a homeland would be for a divided nation and a divided self: what it means to enter language, the body, the family, the community; to be a daughter, sister, lover, citizen, or exile. In settings from New York to San Francisco, from Scotland to Seoul, her poems question "what threads hold / our lives together" in cities and gardens, battlefields and small towns.


McCann, David (Editor). Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2004).
The only up-to-date representative gathering of Korean poetry from the 20th century in English, this volume presents 228 poems by 34 modern Korean poets, including renowned poets such as So Chongju and Kim Chiha.

O’Rourke, Kevin. Looking for the Cow (Dedelaus Press, 1999).
This anthology of 72 poets covers the whole spectrum of 20th-century Korean poetry, with larger selections from the best-known poets, including Midang So Chung-Ju, Kim Sowol, and Kim Suyong. Many types of poetry, from the classical shijo to free-verse forms are represented. Many subjects are covered, from love and the love of nature, Buddhist and Confucian traditions, the search for transcendence (which is where the book's title comes from), and contemporary political poetry.

Park, Wan-Sun and Sallee Hyuan-Jae Yee (Editors). A Sketch of the Fading Sun (White Pine Press, 1999).
Three short stories and a novella look at the lives of Korean women and the impact of the Korean War and the division of their country has had on their lives. A young woman beginning her medical practice, a poverty-stricken girl who is proud of how she manages to cope with her circumstances, a middle-aged woman who wants only a room of her own, and an elderly woman who broke with tradition by having her son's body cremated and now wants to be cremated herself all find themselves caught by a male-dominated society.

Shu, Ji-Moon. Brother Enemy (White Pine Press, 2002).
Twenty-one poets, male and female, North Korean and South Korean, well-known and long forgotten, appear in this collection, the first of its kind in English. The poems reflect the reality of living in a country torn in half by political ideologies. An introduction by translator Ji-moon Suh places the poems and the poets within a historical context that describes the suffering and despair of pitting brother against brother.

Shu, Ji-Moon. The Golden Phoenix (Lynne Reinner Publishing, 1999).
This collection of seven short stories provides a picture of Korean family life from the 1940s to the 1990s. Their themes include family and community ties, respect for tradition, survival in the face of repeated national disasters, and wrenching social upheaval.

So, Chongju. The Early Lyrics 1941-1960: Poems by So Chong-Ju, transl. by Brother Anthony of Taizé. Cornell East Asia Series, 90 (East Asia Program, Cornell University, and Seou, DapGae, 1998). 
The publication of a Korean-English bilingual edition of the early lyrics of Sô Chông-Ju, also known by his pen name Midang, marks a major step forward in Korean Studies. This book covers all of Midang's early poetic output which appeared in the first four collections of his verse:Flower Snake Poems (1941); Nightingale (1948); Selected Poems of Sô Chông-Ju (1955); and The Essence of Silla (1960). Spanning nearly two and a half decades of Midang's career as a poet, the Cornell East Asia Series edition enables the reader to trace closely the artistic development of perhaps "the greatest living Korean poet."