Awards to progress Korean literatures reach
By Ines Min
The Korea Times presented the 41st Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards to eight winners Wednesday at the Westin Chosun Hotel, downtown Seoul.
Brendan MacHale and Kim Yoon-kyung were awarded the Grand Prize in Fiction for their translation of Jeong Ji-ah’s “Spring Afternoon: Three Widows.” Although Kim was overseas and unable to attend, her husband Seo Gyeong-ha received the prize in her stead, along with MacHale.
The Commendation Prize in Fiction was awarded to Jamie Chang for her translation of Koo Byung-mo’s “Wizard Bakery.” While U.S.-based Chang was also unable to attend, the author made an appearance in honor of her work being translated for the contest.
This year saw two Commendation Award winners in poetry, received by translation teams Kim Ha-na and John Mokrynskyj, and Roh Young-ju and Andrew McCullough (a commendation winner in last year’s competition). Kim was represented by her aunt Kwon Eun-suk, while Roh accepted the prizes for her team.
Kim and Mokrynskyj translated Kwon Cheon-hak’s “Silvery Fish Caught in a Net,” while the other commendation team tackled Hwang In-suk’s poem “Walk.”
“I’m not sure when, but I’d like to try novels later too,” Roh said after the ceremony. She is currently engaged in a yearlong translation project with the Korean Literature Translation Institute. “Following my interests, I’ll keep doing it.”
“I give my congratulations but this year also passed with disappointment because our culture has still not gained a lot of recognition abroad. Although you could say that we have come to a good place to even be considered for the Nobel Prize, we were still unable to grab the award,” said Park Moo-jong, president and publisher of The Korea Times, in reference to author Ko Un’s running for the prestigious award last month.
“I hope that everyone here will continue helping the translation awards become a small step toward that great goal... so that one day, a Korean author will be able to earn the Nobel Prize.”
Kim Seung-kwon, head of the Brand Management & Communication Department at the sponsoring Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), also offered his “sincerest congratulations” to the award winners of the competition, vowing the bank will make further contributions to the promotion of the event.
The judging panel for this year’s submissions comprised of Brother Anthony, professor emeritus at Sogang University; Min Eun-kyung, a professor at Seoul National University; and Jung Ha-yun, a professor at Ewha Womans University.
“Commiserations, congratulations to people who didn’t get the prizes,” said Brother Anthony jovially. “I’ve been doing this for too long, but it’s always sort of nerve-wracking because you wonder who on earth did the translations. We don’t have any names, we have no idea whose work it is — I’m always worried that somebody I know did a very good translation and I didn’t notice.”
Nevertheless, he added, “It was really good to meet the award winners and we hope it encourages you to go