“Hanshi (Literary Chinese Poetry) Modernism” and the Formative Stages...

“Hanshi (Literary Chinese Poetry) Modernism” and the Formative Stages of Modern Poetry in 1920’s Korea: Focusing on Translation of Hanshi and the Creation of “Noble Poem” – Chosun’s first Modern Poet Kim Uk

Hyo Woo, University of Pittsburgh

This paper aims to reexamine the origin of “modern Korean” literature by including diverse translingual practices, such as translation and adaptation, in wide circulation in the early twentieth century Korea. The beginning of twentieth century was a “dark” period of Korean history due to abrupt Japanese annexation, but it was also the period of New Literature Movement in which several, newly-emerged cosmopolitan writer-and-translators flourished. As Theodore Hughes rightly points out, the “novel” as a new (or imported) literary category in New Literature Movement was a place where Koreans experienced the breakdown of the sinocentric order and the advent of Western modernity. In this sense, trans/adaptation played significant role in Korean literary history as a tool to digest Western modernity through Japanese mediatory practices. This paper, under this circumstance, conducts a case study of the trans-adaptation of the British sensational novel Run to Earth (1868) by Mary Braddon in colonial Korea. The text was serialized and popularized in Korean newspapers from 1914 to 1915 under the title Chŏngpuwŏn (meaning “the tragedy of a virtuous wife”). The travel route of the text indicates the complex notion of Korean modernity; Japanese translator Kuroiwa Ruiko translated the British original for Japanese audiences in 1892, and Korea adapted Kuroiwa’s version later. By examining the role of translation and its reception history in Korea, this study has two different aims; 1) to situate Korea in the literary history of global circulation, 2) to challenge the normative notion of Korean literature often bounded by monolingualism and national identity.