Poet: Un Ko

Discovered  Flowers of a Moment: Poems By Ŭn Ko.  Four-time Nobel nominee of Literature Ko Un is a Buddhist and a naturalist.   He has published more than one hundred thirty-five volumes of poetry, fiction, essays, translations, and drama, and has twice won the prestigious Korean Literature Prize.  His brief Zen poems are just what I want at this stage of my learning Korean.  Here is one example:

Look, that dandelion, drenched by a shower


is making the best of it, pursing it’s lips

Stand firm, little girl!


Under the Japanese occupation, Korean was banned; children were given a Japanese name. Ko Un was studying his native language in secret when he discovered the poems of Han Ha-un, Korea’s leper-poet.

When the Japanese appropriated the harvest, his father would say. “There is no rice today, but there will be rice tomorrow.”

“All through the colonial period he was a dreamer,” says Ko Un. “And when the moon was full he went out to the dusty yard and started dancing. When I saw that, I wanted to become a man who dances.” (The Monthly, “Wild Pilgrim – Meeting Ko Un”, Barry Hill, November 2012)

For me, one of the reasons I decided to learn the Korean language was hearing about the Korean language being banned during the Japanese occupation.  I look forward to discovering this poet’s work.

For more advanced learners, Hanbooks offers his 12 volume  Man In Bo (Ten Thousand Lives) in Korean.  A classic of 20th-century Korean literature, “Maninbo” consists of 4,001 poems describing people who witnessed moments in Korea’s modern history.

A gift from a Korean friend who sent me this book so I could enjoy the poems in the original 한국말

A gift from a Korean friend who sent me this book so I could enjoy the poems in the original 한국말

View Flowers in the Moment in English from Books.Google.com

This entry was posted in Korean, Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Poet: Un Ko

  1. jreidy17 says:

    Chulmoon wrote me this:
    About 30 years ago, military take Gov.. That time they jail to him.
    He wrote a long serial poetry in the prison.

    It’s ‘만세보’.
    ‘만세’ means long generation.
    ‘보’ is a kind of family trees.

    From he was young to old generation, he make a poem in long history.

    Yes. He was monk in the temple before.
    Of course, zen is a part of his life I think.
    Could be.

    One of popular composition made a song with his poem.

    가을 편지

    고 은

    가을엔 편지를 하겠어요.
    누구라도 그대가 되어 받아 주세요.
    낙엽이 쌓이는 날
    외로운 여자가 아름다워요.

    가을엔 편지를 하겠어요.
    누구라도 그대가 되어 받아 주세요.
    낙엽이 흩어진 날
    모르는 여자가 아름다워요.

    가을엔 편지를 하겠어요.
    모든 것을 헤메인 마음 보내드려요.
    낙엽이 사라진 날
    헤메인 여자가 아름다워요.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s