Monday, December 08, 2014

Who Ain't I? - Ko Un

Ko Un
Volume 25, Autumn 2014

The great Ko Un, poet and everyman, relates an amusing anecdote of an earlier, more innocent time:
Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were a number of cases of false Ko Uns appearing in various parts of Korea. One acted as president of the jury at a regional poetry festival; one gained people's attention by speaking in Sanskrit; one obtained money and valuables by saying that he was about to go on a journey overseas, which was something extremely rare at that time, but did not have enough for the fare. Worse still was that someone pretending to be Ko Un married a graduate from a women's university in Seoul.

One of those false Ko Uns got arrested. I dropped the charges against him. After slapping him once on each cheek, I bought him a drink, encouraging him to go back to his own life. At that time I reflected that perhaps I might be the fake and that false Ko Un might be the true one. (Ko Un, "A Dawn Soliloquy," _list, Volume 25, Autumn 2014, page 14)
I like that he bought the counterfeit Ko Un a drink and began to wonder who really was the fake. That's the sort of thing I think I'd like to do if I were confronted by doppelgängers . . .

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