Four volumes of “Azaleas,” a collection of poems by Kim Sowol (1902-1934), one of the most famous poets in early modern Korea, have been added to the nation’s cultural heritage list, the Cultural Heritage Administration said Thursday.
The four volumes were first published in 1925, containing a total of 127 poems written by Kim. Beautifully poignant in style, a lot of Kim’s works are known to be reminiscent of traditional Korean folk songs.
This is the first time ever for a modern Korean literary work to be designated cultural heritage.
Two different covers of poet Kim Sowol’s collection of poems, “Azaleas.” (Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea)
The volumes share different covers. “While two of the four exhibit a rather simple, antique-sentiment, the other two have flowery illustrations on the front,” said Kim Mi-seong, an official from the cultural administration. “This is because the four volumes were printed through two different publishers.”
In spite of the different covers, the four volumes share the same content, Kim said.
Prior to the official designation, some scholars questioned whether the volumes were in fact published in the 1920s, as it was rare to publish books with flowery prints at the time.
The Cultural Heritage Administration said they concluded that the volumes were published in the 1920s after holding a series of meetings with 10 experts, including historians, Korean literary experts, and bibliographers.
“Azaleas” is Kim’s first and only collection of poems published during his lifetime.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org