Sun-Ae and I in the Korea Times
and its translators
Horace Jeffery Hodges and Hwang Sun-Ae
Not looking our best . . .
Reporter Chung Ah-young has published an article in The Korea Times, "US journal recognizes 2 Korean translations" (December 22, 2013), that includes words from a brief interview with Sun-Ae and me on our work translating Yi Kwang-su's novel The Soil:
Korean literary translations have been recognized . . . [among] the 75 Notable Translations by World Literature Today (WLT), a U.S. magazine of international literature and culture in its December issue . . . . Introducing a variety of international literature to its worldwide readers, the journal was first established in 1927 as Books Abroad and then changed its name into the current World Literature Today in 1977. The magazine is the second oldest periodical in the U.S., becoming a channel for understanding other cultures through literature under the motto of "Light from Abroad." [Among those translations recognized was] . . . The Soil[,] . . . one of the Library of Korean Literature Series published by the Dalkey Archive Press in November consisting of 10 Korean modern literary works. [The Soil was t]ranslated by Hwang Sun-Ae and Horace Jeffery Hodges, . . . [and it] tells the story of an idealist who dedicates his life to helping the inhabitants of the rural community in which he grew up during Japanese colonial era. It's about enlightening the poor farmers of the time in order to protect their fortunes, help them become self-reliant, and ultimately change the reality of colonial life on the Korean peninsula. The book is regarded as a crucial novel that shows the social conditions of the time, an equivalent to such English-language novels as Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle."Chung then quoted Sun-Ae:
"Yi is a very important writer, but his work has not been translated much, aside from 'Heartless,' the first modern Korean novel. The Soil was on the Literature Translation Institute of Korea recommendation book list, and we thought the novel was still significant and informative about an extremely difficult time in Korean history. Yi's oeuvre has been largely ignored because of his ambiguous relationship to Japan, but we felt that his supposed politics should not prevent his literary standing from being recognized," said Hwang, a translator . . . . [She added] that Yi's novel was written in the Japanese colonial period, so some of the words were unfamiliar in contemporary Korean, but even harder was retaining the original sense while rendering the novel in a literary style readable for contemporary English speakers. "The best translation stays close to the original text but uses language natural for the foreign reader," she said.We also thanked the Literature Translation Institute of Korea:
"It's a great honor for us, and we are also very happy that Korean literature is getting some attention worldwide. This honor shows the importance of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea in supporting translators through grants. Without their support, we would not have been able to undertake such a project," Hwang said.There's more at the link, mainly about the other translated work, 58 poems by the Zen poet Hyesim (1178-1234) of the Goryeo period, titled Magnolia and Lotus and translated by Ian Haight and Ho Tae-young.
So far as I know, The Korea Times got the scoop on our story, beating out such English-language competitors as The Korea Herald and The JoongAng Daily . . .