The Seoul Literary Society, a group of Korean literature enthusiasts organized by the Swedish Embassy in Korea, celebrated its 30th session with three of Korea’s literary luminaries: Kim Yeon-su, Kim In-sook and Pyun Hye-young.
“There is this great treasure in this country called ‘Korean literature’ and, because of the inability of many of us to read what is written firsthand, there was a need for a mechanism to make Korean literature more readily available to the foreign community,” said Swedish Ambassador to Korea Lars Danielsson in welcome remarks at SLS’ 30th session at his residence in the diplomatic neighborhood of Seongbuk-dong, Seoul, Tuesday.
Kim In-sook debuted in the politically turbulent 1980s and has matured and evolved since, amassing a broad and eclectic body of work, including “Season of Losses” and “Sea and Butterfly.” Her work is often described as “ever present” and “sensitive to the spirit of the times,” according to literary critic Shim Jin-kyung, who moderated the special session.
|Korean writers Kim Yeon-su (third from right), Kim In-sook (second from right), Pyun Hye-young (far right) and Swedish ambassador to Korea Lars Danielsson (third from left on the red sofa) listen to a question during the Seoul Literary Society’s 30th session at Danielsson’s residence in Seongbuk-dong, Seoul, Tuesday. (LTI Korea)|
Novelist Kim Yeon-su debuted in the 1990s. His 2009 collection of short stories, “World’s End Girlfriend,” was both a critical and commercial success, unexpected for a writer of what Shim described as “hard to read fiction.”
Pyun Hye-young made her literary debut in the following decade with a short story that won the Seoul Shinmun New Writer’s Contest in 2000. She is the author of the short-story collections “AOI Garden” and “Evening Courtship,” and the novels “Ashes and Red” and “They Went to the Forest in the West.” Pyun has received the Hankook Ilbo Literary Award and the Dongin Prize.
SLS was set up in 2006 by then-Swedish Ambassador to Korea Lars Vargo, who was an accomplished poet and novelist in his own right. Through the years, SLS has hosted some of Korea’s highest-regarded wordsmiths.
Not so long ago, SLS hosted Kim Young-ha, author of “I Have the Right to Destroy Myself.” Before that, poet Kim Seung-hee, author of the novel “The One Who Goes to Santa Fe,” shared her works with SLS members.
On another occasion, SLS commemorated the late Swedish children’s book author Astrid Lindgren with a reading of “Pippi Longstocking” to a coterie of Korean kids.
At the previous session, 48-year-old writer Jung Young-moon, who has had 11 novels published, including his debut story, “The Person Who Barely Exists,” mesmerized diplomats and expatriates alike.
Danielsson assured the 40-some local literary enthusiasts, expatriates and foreign envoys in attendance that SLS would continue to host Korean writers in the future.
By Philip Iglauer (firstname.lastname@example.org)