Tag Archives: 영역

There is a white wall by Baek Seok

(translated from the Korean by geul)


This evening, on the white wall of this small and narrow room

for some reason, only melancholy things come and go.

On this white wall

a dim 15-candle bulb throws off a tired light,

a grimey threadbare shirt rests its dark shadow,

and my various and sundry lonely thoughts wander about thinking how I would like some sweet hot gamju*.

But what’s this?

On this white wall

is my poor old mother.

My poor old mother,

though it’s such a bluishly-bobbing cold day, has her hands in the icy water washing radishes and cabbages.

The person I love is also there.

The beautiful person that I love

has made cod fish soup and is sitting down to dinner across from her husband, in a squat house down south by a river.

Already a mother, she is eating dinner with the youngster by her side.

And again before you know it

on this white wall

looking at my melancholy face

the following words go by:

– I was born to live a poor, lonely, high, and melancholy life in this world.

And living in this world

my heart is too full of the passionate, the solitary and too full of love and sadness.

And this time as if to console me, as if in solidarity, signaling with the eyes, the fist, these words go past:

– When Heaven created the world, what it loved and cherished the most were all made to live a

poor, lonely, high, melancholy life and always in the midst of overflowing love and sadness.

Like the crescent moon, the gourd flower, the crow tit, and the donkey

and also like Francis Jamme, Tao Yuanming and Rainer Maria Rilke.


*gamju (감주) fermented drink made from rice

poem in Korean



Postcard, Postcard by Kim Kyeong-mi

translated from the Korean by geul


Was it just twice? And that was together with other people
And that was just having a meal together
And that was a year maybe two years ago?
Does he even know my name? Since that was all, it’s the same as not knowing me, right?
Still when I feel melancholy and no one’s around
For some reason I think of it without meaning to
For example, when I see a nice picture postcard under this kind of foreign sky
I write to this person who likely has less interest in me than a postage stamp
because I’m comfortably far away and what’s more without the anxiety of being hurt
as if I were his lover as if he missed me
Dear, you will in the end never know you are being loved in this way
because I will write a few words and then tear it up in my heart
and throw it away in that river that I’ve seen for the first time
Poor dear, you’re probably chewing your dinner without even knowing you’ve been abandoned
When I’m also eating alone and get lonely I think
could there also be someone who secretly thinks about me
I mean could I maybe be happy like that without my knowing it…?



poem in Korean

Poem Easily Written by Yun Dong-ju

(translated from the Korean by geul)


Outside the window the night rain whispers
this 6-tatami* room is somebody else’s country,


Even though I know
being a poet is a sad fate
shall I try writing a line of poetry? ​


On receiving from home the envelope with money for school,
which gives off a scent of sweat and love


I go to listen to the old professor’s lecture
with college notebook under my arm.


If I think about it, having lost one, two –
all my friends from childhood


Am I simply precipitating to the bottom alone,
hoping for what?


They say living life is hard –
poetry written this easily
is a shameful thing.


This 6-tatami room is somebody else’s country,
the night rain whispers outside the window,


I light a lamp to push out the darkness a little, and
the last Me,
waiting for morning to arrive, like an era.


I, extending a small hand to myself
with tears and consolation,
grasping the first handshake.



poem in Korean

*The poet, Yun Dong-ju, wrote the poem while studying abroad in Japan during the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea. A 6-tatami mat room is about 100 square feet or 9 square meters.

Song: Wings (날개) by Mot (못)

Listen to the song here

translated from the Korean by geul


Though we knew we’d fall
we flew still higher
the world we saw for the first time was so beautiful and sad


Though we knew we’d break
we flew still higher
the days we spent together were sad because we were so happy


In the cold wind we hid our wounded wing
without any promises or vows
we only hoped time would stop


[instrumental interlude]


Though we knew we’d break
we flew still higher
the days we spent together were sad because we were so happy


We leaned our shoulders together
tired from their clumsy flapping
deep inside a neverending dream
we hoped to dream forever


Though we knew we’d fall
we flew still higher
the world we saw for the first time was so beautiful and sad


lyrics in Korean



Temple of Love by Yun Dong-ju

translated from the Korean by geul


Soon*, when did you come into my palace?
When did I go into your palace?

Our temple,
ancient customs — the temple of young love

Soon, close your crystal eyes like the doe
I shall comb through my tangled hair like the lion
Our love was no more than a mute

Before the searing flame of the sacred candle goes out
Soon, you race out the front door
Before wind and darkness batter our windowpane
I shall vanish out the back, far away
with eternal love in my arms

And now
for you there is a cozy lake in the forest
for me there are rugged mountains ahead


*Soon is a girl’s name

poem in Korean

Lump of Sorrow by Kim So-wol

(translated from the Korean by geul)

Incense offered up kneeling.
A small lump of sorrow in my chest.
In the shadow of the slivered moon raindrops weep.
A small lump of sorrow in my chest.


poem in Korean


Chungnamdangjin Woman by Jang Jeong-il

(translated from the Korean by geul)

Where could she have gone, the woman from Chungnamdangjin*?
She who left me after violating me
snatching the virginity defended for twenty-three years and gifting me with syphilis
Chungnamdangjin woman, I think I’m going to have to hate you
Turning me into a man with her ardor like a power plant
I don’t think I can hate her
Chungnamdangjin woman, my wish was to marry the first woman I slept with
My life’s wish was to live all my life with the first woman I held in my arms
living together without breaking up
having a child with the first woman I locked lips with
Naming my first daughter that the first woman I kissed lays in my arms was my life’s wish
But you got away – “I’m a very bad woman”
Taking a taxi you got away – “Don’t look for me”
Taking a yellow taxi you vanished with your eyes all red
I should’ve memorized the number on the back of the taxi
Where did you hide, Chungnamdangjin woman, with a drop of my saliva
on your small lips, how can you smile with pleasure?
You who said a man and a woman didn’t need a place to lie down
Chungnamdangjin woman, you who laughed haha saying you lived
near a power plant as a child, giggling, Chungnamdangjin woman
Maybe that’s why at the Dangjin thermoelectric power plant in my dream
A woman’s face as black as coal shooting up terrifyingly inside the furnace
Chungnamdangjin woman’s face
under a street light, round like her face, I am standing, I stand tall with regret
Actually what I wanted, what I secretly wanted was that she would go away
Chungnamdangjin woman, she stands under the dim lamp
of the standing-only bar under the lamp that’s freckled with fly droppings
Does that mean I abandoned you rather than you abandoning me?
Or did we secretly abandon each other? and why?
And why is the fate of our 1960 generation such as it is?
The love I made with the Chungnamdangjin woman making the beast with two backs
will become a sordid poem bruited about by idle people
spread around between heaven and earth until one day the rumor reaches the velvety
ears of that Dangjin woman who’ll giggle
And the rumor will reach the ears of my future fiancee
and when she asks in a soft voice “Was she pretty? How was she?”
Love, I shall fall into the abyss of memory, Chungnamdangjin woman
she whose name I’ve forgotten



*City of Dangjin in South Chungcheong Province

poem in Korean


Flower (꽃) by Ki Hyeong-do (기형도)

(translated from the Korean by geul)


On a day when my soul flames up

in the garden where your heart grows sick

I will become your blood

hotly spewed all the night

and rise up as a flower.


If it’s you

I would gladly have my waist cut


I will sew up your heart

with my close breath


If I lay my head in the place where the wind blows

I could happily fall asleep standing.


poem in Korean






I like all frustrated things by Kim Kyeong-mi

(translated from the Korean by geul)


Sleet that failed to become plush snow
Cow wheat that failed to become magnolia blossoms
The call that doesn’t come and the plundered savings
*** account.
Your letter
that passes me by to go to another address


I like the attitude of the frustrated
With the forehead to the floor
Things that have looked down at the world of roots
Transparently like a window pane
Like a god in heaven who gets on all fours and looks


poem in Korean

Crying in Andong by Jang Jeong-il

(translated from the Korean by geul)


A city I seemed to have visited before at some point. Korea’s north central region surrounded by a wall-like mountain forest, a harlequin wind passes between low buildings, and ice cream wrappers fly around mixing with dust and dirt.
***North central region –
it’d be worthwhile for those coming to a small city like this to think about what a
***big deal America is.
Here too are parched gullets glugging down Coca Colas. There’s keen interest in watching controversial foreign films. As well as pop songs clang clang clanging


A small city in the north central region. Wherever
you go, in Korea’s tea shops there are middle-aged men. There are middle-aged gentlemen who enjoy playing the political soothsayer; they relay their diagnosis, suspicions, and predictions regarding the reformist powers, successors, and the
***preposterous fall of a chaebol.
Wherever you go in Korea you’ll find the irresponsible debater.
There exist middle-aged men, who, laughing broadly, claim that if everyone in
***the world becomes a bourgeois they would be happy.
Whichever city you go to in Korea you’ll find in the place with problems, middle-aged men with problems and scandal. Old trash


Already the little girls in this place cover the top of their hands with the end of a trendy long sleeve. The latest cultural waves trying to get closer to the infantile are rolling over the tops of little girls’ hands in this place.
Not only the tops of the hands of little girls. All cities are being Seoulfied.
All cities being the latest Seoulfied city. The small city that must forever chew the
***cud of the Seoul lifestyle
Over the vacant small city, in which those set on success have left, clenching their teeth, the night, left over after Seoul has swooped in, falls without climax.


Then like new recruits who’re in for guerilla training, they call out the name of their wife once. They call out the name of their first daughter. The cunning peddlers, who’ve laid out their extrordinary commerical know-how in this unfamiliar city, look for low cost motels. Book salesmen, salesmen of men’s colognes. Calendar salesmen. One. Two. They look for cheap motels. Those failed drifters from Seoul, the Seoul of those who’d found success rising from the third-rate motels of small cities. They will lay down a
***day’s fatigue like grass.


A city I seemed to have visited before. Surrounded by a wall-like mountain forest. In Korea’s north central region sleep falls like snowy sleet.
However, there is remorse that doesn’t succumb to sleep.
Why did I come to this place? Where
is this place? The end? The end?
Yes, you’re finished. Salesman
is your end. It’s the end of your life!
The man in his prime buries his face in the pillow
and bursts into tears. The small remote city in the north central region. In a shabby motel in a cold city. The damp blanket causes the full grown man. The man in his prime from Seoul, to burst into tears.


poem in Korean