Charles La Shure on Yi Kwang-su's novel The Soil
Department of Korean Language and Literature
Seoul National University
An acquaintance of mine, Charles La Shure, has written a review of the LTI Korea translation project, "Korean Literature Series for English-speaking Readers" ("Library of Korean Literature," Volumes 1-10, various authors, Dalkey Archive Press, 2013), for the quarterly Koreana (Spring 2014) that mentions Yi Kwang-su's novel The Soil:
The first stage in this project is already complete, with 10 books published in November 2013; the remainder are scheduled to be published in fall this year. The series begins, at least chronologically, with a work that is often considered to be the first modern Korean novel, Yi Kwang-su's "The Soil." First serialized in a daily newspaper in 1932, the novel follows a social activist who attempts to enlighten the farming village in which he was born, bringing those who live there into the modern era. It paints a vivid picture of the social conditions in Korea during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), which led World Literature Today to include the work in its list of 75 Notable Translations of 2013.I think Charles meant to say that The Soil is "considered to be [one of] the first modern Korean novel[s]," the consensus among Korean literary critics being that Yi Kwang-su's earlier novel Heartless is actually the first modern Korean novel.
No word on the quality of the translation, so I suppose that means Charles didn't hate it . . .