The sixth collection of the Korean literature series being issued this year
features Yolha Diary by Park Ji-won, Obu Sasisa (The Fisherman's
Calendar), by Yun Seon-do, The Nine-Cloud Dream, by Kim Man-jung,
Tears of Blood, by Yi In-jik, and From the Sun to a Child, by Choe
Yolha Diary was written by Park Ji-won (1737-1805) during the reign of
King Jongjo. Park kept a diary of his four-month-long journey to Beijing as
a member of a Korean diplomatic mission dispatched to celebrate the
birthday of Emperor Kojong of Ch'ing China in 1780. In it, Park described
various aspects of contemporary Chinese life ranging from its history,
geography, and customs to politics, economics, religion, literature, and arts,
all which he had observed on the streets of Beijing and Yolha.
The Fisherman's Calendar
The Fisherman's Calendar, is one of the most notable achievements of Yun
Seon-do (1587-1671). Written in 1651 during the reign of King Hyojong of
the Choson dynasty, this cycle of 40 poems gives a vivid depiction of the
scenic beauty offered by seasonal change on Pogil-do island, one of the
poet's favorite retreats, and extols the idyllic life of a fisherman, away from
the cares of the world.
The Nine-Cloud Dream
The Nine-Cloud Dream (1689), was written in exile by Kim Man-jung
(1637-1692), who intended it to comfort his mother. This romance concerns
a Buddhist monk Sungjin, who begins to doubt the Buddhist teachings after
he drinks alcohol and encounters eight beautiful fairies. He dreams of all
sorts of secular pleasures, but then he and the eight fairies are awakened to
the inner depth of his spirit and enter into the bliss of Heaven.
Tears of Blood
Tears of Blood (1906), by Yi In-jik (1862-1916), is the first modern novel
written in Korea. Taking as its themes the longing for a civilized society and
vehement opposition to arranged marriages, this novel presents a
cross-section of the period after the end of the Chinese-Japanese War, and
offers a vision for the dawning future by tracing the life of its heroine,
Oknyun, as she makes her way from Korea to Japan and across the Pacific
Ocean to America.
From the Sea to a Child
This inspiring poem by Choe Nam-seon (1890-1957), was published in the
first issue of the magazine Sonyon (Child) in 1908, giving birth to modern
poetry or free verse in Korea. Pinning high hopes and expectations on the
pillar of the future, the poet preaches that children should leave behind
vestiges of the old age and boldly venture out into the new world.