Seoul book club hosts four Korean writers

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Dec 16, 2015 - 18:52
  • Updated : Dec 16, 2015 - 18:52

The Seoul Book and Culture Club will be hosting an event with four writers who will be introducing their newly released bilingual novellas to English-speaking readers.

At the event, Korean literature blogger and translation professor Charles Montgomery will be talking with the authors, whose books are part of Asia Publishers’ K-Literature series.

The best-known of the four is Lee Ki-ho, author of “At Least We Can Apologize“ and “So Far and Yet So Near,” both of which are also available in English. He will be talking about his book in the Asia Publishers series, “Kwon Sun-chan and Nice People.”

Joining him will be Baik Sou-linne to talk about “Time Difference,” Lee Jang-wook, author of “Old Man River,” and Geum Hee, who wrote “Ok-hwa.” 

"Time Difference," by Baik Sou-linne,"Kwon Sun-chan and Nice People," by Lee Ki-ho, "Old Man River," by Lee Jang-wook and "Ok-hwa," by Geum-hee

Montgomery said that the other writers were notable because they dealt with the lives and experiences of Koreans living overseas and how Koreans interact with non-Koreans.

”Lee Ki-ho, of course, is extremely well known in Korea, as an author who explodes convention,” he said. “The other three authors struggle to expand the bounds of Korean literature to include foreign characters and settings, properly attempting to place Korean fiction where the Korean nation is placed ― internationally“

Montgomery pointed out that part of Old Man River even takes place overseas, but that the involvement of foreign elements was a new trend that had its detractors here.

The book club has hosted many of Korea’s most famous writers, including recent appearances from North Korean defector Kang Cheol-hwan and novelist Han Kang, and an interview with poet Ko Un earlier this year.

It is the fourth event that Asia Publishers has had with the book club, and is a chance to hear from authors whose stars are rising. Hwang Jung-eun, who appeared at the book club in September, won the Daesang Literary Award for fiction last month.

Book Club organizer Barry Welsh said the events with Asia Publishers helped widen the scope of writers they could host.

“It‘s been a gold mine in terms of getting writers out because some of them aren’t well known enough on their own to get an audience, but because you have a selection of them, it makes it more appealing for people to come and see,” he said. “It‘s been really fun working with Asia Publishers.”

The club expanded to film events this year, inviting directors in to talk about their films, and Welsh said it had been a fantastic year for the club, although he was sad that it would likely be Montgomery’s last time in the host’s seat.

“It’s the end of a good year, but it is also slightly sad that it‘s the last time Charles is going to be around.”

The book club meets Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at the Seoul Global Culture Center on the fifth floor of the M-Plaza building in Myeong-dong. Admission is free. 

By Paul Kerry (