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SEOUL – Czech-Korean poetry evening

The very last single standing cultural event of Czech Points in Seoul festival became Czech-Korean poetry evening held at Korea Foundation Cultural Center on November 8, 2011. Organized by Dept. of Czech and Slovak studies at Hankuk University of Foreing Studies (HUFS) and Embassy of the Czech Republic in the Republic of Korea with a financial support of Prague office of Hyundai Merchang Marine, it gathered many important personalities, among them two Korean poets, Nobel-award nominee Ko Un and Oh Se-yeong.

Czech poetry was represented by samples of works of Karel Hynek Mácha, Vítězslav Nezval, Nobel award laureate Jaroslav Seifert and the only Czech poet writing in tradition of Korean sijo – Lubor Koval. Traditional Korean sijo poems were also recited, authors being 17th century poet Kim Cheon-Taek (金天澤), mid-15th century geisha Hwang Jini (黃眞伊). Another Korean introduced was wandering poet Kim Sat-Gat (金炳淵). While both original Czech texts and translations from Korean were presented by professor of Czech at HUFS Ivana Bozděchová, student of Korean Ivana Smutná and Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr., who also presented a short introduction to history of translations of Korean poetry into Czech, the Korean originals and translations of Czech poems into Korean were recited by Yu Sunbee, Kwon Jae-il and Kim Kyuchin, who also introduced a history of translating Czech poetry in Korean.

Both Korean poets present recited their own poetry, Oh Se-Yeoung recited his own poem, titled "Stone", while Ko Un went on to recite his poems such as “That Poet,” “After Himalaya,” “Certain Pleasure,” and “First Person Is Sad.” The event was held to honor the Czech publication of the very first bilingual Czech-Korean edition of Ko Un´s poetry published in Prague under the title „To je – 그것은“. Translated jointly by Czech Koreanist Miriam Lowensteinová and Korean Bohemist Park Mi-young, this edition published by Nová vlna and Millenium Publishing was launched also in Prague during Ko Un´s visit there in May this year.

Ko Un (高銀-고은), most likely Korean candidate for Nobel prize for literature, showed a keen interest in Prague during the event. “Everybody wants to remember Prague as an unforgettable place,” Ko Un said, “and I am one of them.” He has maintained intimate relations with the Czech Republic and also showed a fond affection for Czech literature. “I like Prague-born Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) and Czech’s leading literary man Jan Neruda (1834-1891).” Ko aůsp added “Czech is the place my literature loves,” as quoted by The Seoul Times.

Articles about the event in English: