Three Generations of Poetic Dissent: Kim Jiha, Park Nohae, Song Kyong-dong

Thursday, December 5, 2019 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm
Korea University, Asiatic Research Institute, Rm #310
Tour Leader: 
Brother Anthony

Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch in cooperation with École française d'Extrême-Orient

Seoul Colloquium in Korean Studies

이미지: 사람 1명, 웃고 있음, 앉아 있는 중

 Three Generations of Poetic Dissent:

Kim Jiha, Park Nohae, Song Kyung-dong


Venue:   Grand Conference Room (Room #310), Asiatic Research 

               Institute, Korea University (see detailed directions, below)

Everyone interested in Korean Studies is welcome, please share this information.

No registration is needed.

The “April Revolution” of 1960 inspired new forms of socially-aware poetry that gave a voice to the aspirations of the young generations for a renewed polity and truer forms of democracy. Leading poets in this first expression of dissent were Kim Su-yeong and Shin Dong-yeop. Both died tragically young, in 1968 and 1969, and in May 1970 the publication of the narrative poem “Five Bandits” by Kim Jiha marked a new level of social satire. Since one of the 5 Bandits was a General who had fought for the Japanese, the identification with Park Jung-hee was obvious, so Kim was arrested, then later, in 1974 he was even sentenced to death. After release from prison in 1980, his life took directions which have left most readers profoundly disoriented.

            While Kim Jiha was born in 1941 and experienced the April Revolution as a participating student, Park Nohae was only born in 1957. In 1984 his collection of poems evoking the agonies of overworked, exploited, overpaid factory workers, “Dawn of Labor,” made a powerful impact. His name, too, was a pseudonym. meaning “Workers’ Liberation.” His true identity was unknown, the police and intelligence agencies searched for him in vain. In 1989 he and other idealists established the “South Korean Socialist Workers’ Alliance,” an even greater provocation. Finally arrested in 1991, it was only when he appeared for trial that the face of “the faceless poet” was seen for the first time. Before being amnestied in 1998 he had published two more poetry collections, very different from the first. The story of his life since then stands in strong contrast to that of Kim Jiha.

             Born 10 years later than Park Nohae, in 1967, Song Kyung-dong is a construction worker and militant unionist who has authored three poetry collections. In 2014, he was sentenced to prison for mobilizing the “Hope Bus” movement, in which some 200 buses swarmed the site of an industrial protest in a show of solidarity. He has been part of the investigative committee examining the blacklisting of artists during the past two administrations. His poems and activities express the new reality of the radical social movement and the ongoing struggle for justice, which because of the outsourcing of production must expand far beyond Korea’s boundaries.


Brother Anthony has lived in Korea since 1980. He has translated many major contemporary poets’ work, publishing some 50 volumes so far. His current project involves translating the work of Park Nohae and Song Kyung-dong. He translated “Five Bandits” long ago.

Take Exit 1 from Korea University subway station, turn right onto the footpath leading up onto the campus.
   Walk straight up the road past LG Posco Hall, the Business School and Main Library (all on the right hand side).
   The Asiatic Research Institute is the building next after the Library (Building 39 on the 
Campus Map)

We hope that many of you can come.

Elisabeth Chabanol
Key-young Son
Brother Anthony

Seoul Colloquium in Korean Studies

The Seoul Colloquium in Korean Studies is jointly organized by the Seoul Center of the ÉFEO and the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch (RASKB). Everyone interested in Korean Studies is welcome, please share this information. No registration is needed. 


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