The Korea Herald


Ra Hee-duk's 'Possibilist' and 15 others receive Daesan translation grants

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 20:24

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Poet Ra Hee-duk’s collection of poems, “Possibilist” (2021), and 15 other Korean literary works have been selected for the 2023 Grants for the Translation, Research and Publication Literary Works, the Daesan Foundation said Wednesday.

Since 2010, the Daesan Foundation has been awarding the annual grant, which introduces Korean literature to the world in various languages. This year, the foundation is providing a total of 230 million won ($171,800), supporting the translation and overseas publication of the selected works.

This year’s selected works will be translated into eight languages: Four works into English; three into French, German and Spanish; two into Chinese; and one into Japanese, Russian and Mongolian.

A total of 71 applications were submitted, including 25 works to be translated into English. The selection criteria prioritized the applicant's translation ability and performance, and focused on the literary value of the Korean works and their potential for overseas publication.

The works selected for English translation are: Ra’s “Possibilist," Ko Yeon-ock’s collection of plays, Pyun Hye-young’s horror-thriller story collection “Toward the Breeding Grounds” and Choi Eun-mi’s mystery thriller “The Ninth Wave.”

Translators Ji Young-shil and Daniel T. Parker will collaborate on the translation of "Possibilist," while Kim Ji-sun and Lee Young-il will co-translate Ko's collection of plays. Sora Kim-Russell and Heinz Insu Fenkl will work together on the translation of "Toward the Breeding Grounds," and Jung Ha-yun will translate "The Ninth Wave."

There were seven English submissions for “Possibilist,” a winner of the Daesan Literary Award. The winning submissions were chosen for being highly readable for English-speaking readers and for effectively capturing the poetic style of the work, the judges said.

Ko’s play collection received high scores due to its status as a genre rarely translated into English and its recognition of a prominent female writer whose works are consistently performed today. Since plays are closely related to theatrical performances, the judges agreed that for Korean theater to become an essential part of Hallyu, translations of plays should be more actively pursued.

Pyun's works are already recognized in the English-speaking world, and Choi’s work received favorable reviews from Korean readers, said the judges.

The Daesan Foundation said it selected a balanced selection of translators, which included established figures like Sora Kim-Russell, Kim Hyun-ja, Yoon Sun-me, Lee Ki-hyang, Choi Mi-kyung, as well as newcomers like Tamina Hauser and Han Seoa.

"Possibilist" is also chosen for translation into French.

Two works by International Booker Prize-winning author Han Kang have been selected for translation into German and Spanish -- "I Do Not Bid Farewell" and "Greek Lessons,” respectively.

The acclaimed poet Kim Hye-soon's "Autobiography of Death," which won the International Griffin Poetry Prize, has also made it onto the list and will be translated into German.

Additionally, Choi Eun-young's family saga "Bright Night" has been chosen for translation into Russian and Mongolian.

For the complete list of selected works, refer to the official website of the Daesan Foundation.