International Arts / International Events

Korean poet recites a heart-warming Korean poem in Washington D.C.

(Photograph by Jeonghyun Kim)  Korean poet Ho-seung Chung read and discussed his poem for K-Literature in Washington D.C on Friday, March 20, 2015.
(Korean poet Ho-seung Chung read and discussed his poem for K-Literature in Washington D.C on Friday, March 20, 2015. Photograph by Jeonghyun Kim)

Written by Jeonghyun Kim

Literature is hard to understand for people who are not familiar with the country’s culture, especially if readers/listeners don’t have the cultural and historical background.

But, here is a way to learn about foreign literature. When you have an opportunity to meet poet on face-to-face, it will be easier to understand the country’s literature poet. Poets usually explain how they write and what they want to convey during the discussion.

As a culture melting pot city, Washington D.C has a lot of cultural centers which want to introduce their culture to America. If you are ready to enjoy international culture, D.C might be a good place to start.

Korean poet Ho-seung Chung read and discussed his poem for K-Literature in Washington D.C on Friday, March 20, 2015. He is one of Korea’s most well-known poets and writes about poverty and the alienation of the individual.

The Korean Cultural Center Washington D.C has a free public event for overseas fans that introduces Americans to Korean poetry.

“I can’t speak English, but I am glad to share my poem with many people,” said Chung during the event.

According to Chung, most poetry doesn’t translate well. However, he emphasizes the importance of translated literature, even though it has not been translated well or impossible to all intents.

“I like Hemingway’s books, but I can’t read Hemingway’s book because I can’t speak English,” said Chung. “But Hemingway’s books were translated into Korean. I can read it now even though it’s not in the original language version.”

The Korean Poetry event is successful and reaches audiences, even though poetry loses something in translation.

“I couldn’t understand much in Korean, but I can understand the feeling,” said Jesse Harshbarger, a participant at the event. “When there was accompanying text or explanation, I understand it well.”

Harshbarger is excited about meeting someone from the opposite side of the planet and added that D.C has a lot of opportunity to learn about different cultures.

Cultural events in Washington D.C helps people learn about other worlds, but it has to promote the event in order to attract more people.

“I hope this kind of events gets more promotion,” said SukHwan Kang, a student at Georgetown University. “Washington D.C has a lot of cultural events. I hope people who live in D.C can get more information through some website or Facebook.”

Here are four of Chung’s most beloved and translated poems.

 

“Those Whom I Love”

I do not love those who do not have their shadows.

I do not love those who do not love their shadows.

I do love those who become the shade of the tree.

The sunlight is bright because it has its shade.

Sitting under the shade of a tree,

I see the glistening sunlight coming through the leaves.

How beautiful the world is!

I do not love those who do not have their tears.

I do not love those who do not love tears.

Pleasure is not pleasure if it does not have tears.

Sitting under the shade,

I see those who wipe away someone’s tears.

How beautiful the world is!

“Song of Farewell”

You are leaving me.

If you can postpone your departure just a bit,

It will not be that late, because I love you.

Then, I will go first to the destination where you are heading

And become the sunset, the glow on your back.

I will adjust my dress and become a star singing for you

In the darkness when darkness creeps into the village.

You are leaving me.

If you can postpone your departure just a bit,

It will not be that late, because I love you.
“About the Bottom”

Only those who went down to the bottom can tell that the bottom was invisible.

They just say that they walked to the deepest bottom and

That those who walked to the bottom could return.

Only those who rise up from the deepest depth can say that they could not reach any further ,

Only those who return from the bottom of the floor can say that there is no further depth

And that the bottom is invisible,

Therefore, they just are rising from the deepest bottom.
“Broken into Pieces”

The earthen Buddha I bought as a souvenir at Lumbini*

Fell down to the floor, Broken into pieces.

Arms broken into pieces, Legs broken into pieces,

Throat broken into pieces, and Toes broken into pieces.

I knelt down to find glue from the drawer To put the pieces back together.

Then, Buddha touched my head.

He who was trying to put the pieces back together

Comforted me:

“Once broken, you will live in a broken shape.

As it is.”

DSC_3834 DSC_3837

(Korean traditional dolls)

*Lumbini is the birthplace of the Lord Buddha in Nepal

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