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Columbia East Asia Review

TRANSLAtING MODERN KOREAN POEtRY: AEStHEtIC NAtIONALISm AND tHE HIStORY OF EmOtIONS
Christine Han, Columbia University
he universal feature of poetry is its ability to create a space through which the text can arouse certain emotions. As a simple, concise form of literature, poetry has the power to penetrate the hearts of readers, evoking specic emotions from the audience; dierent cultures have constructed distinctive forms such as the Italian sonnet and Japanese haiku that carry their own appeal. However, with the universality of poetry the very literary style that, with its lyricism, bridges and transcends dierences between people the appeal of these poems is translated to second and third languages in order to share its popularity with a new audience. Moreover, the presence of similar concepts across dierent cultures presents a sense of interconnectedness and syncretism of cultures in the 21st-century. It is then interesting to note that modern Korean poetry or poetry written by Koreans in the 20th-century does not keep to one unique style and in fact has a wide range in subject, tone, poetic shape, and perspective. Yet instead of a more general title that may attract a broad readership, popular poetry collections published in Korea are often titled, Poems that Koreans Like, which raises the question of why these poems may appeal to a Korean reader rather than a more general audience. If these poems carry untranslatable and incommensurable concepts, how can non-Korean readers also understand the poems and see their appeal? Regarding this abstract concept of the general Korean reader and Korean readership, this thesis will attempt to prove that such identities are constructed notions and products of an eort to evoke a sense of romanticism in relation to nationalism. In this historical production, it will be shown that poets such as Kim Sowl and Yun Tong-ju are also positioned in Korean literature with the national history, as they are often understood through historical events or processes such as colonialism. The majority of critics commonly understand the sentiments expressed in these poems as a reaction or social commentary to reect the period. Nonetheless, assuming that the poet intended to express a collective emotion, connecting these poems solely to a national discourse limits the possibility of translating its popularity to a dierent language and culture. Rather, the constructions of these collective emotions show a discourse between external inuences on Korea and an internal eort to dene the nation; a parallel process exists in the private and public spheres of a poet that reects a shift in the relationship between an individual and collective mentality. Thus, to facilitate a better understanding of a poem, it is essential to understand the personal experiences of a poet and his individual emotions rather than reading only through a nationalistic lens.

Han Translating Modern Korean Poetry

I. Nationalistic Interpretations of Poetry


In the eort to understand the poets feelings, readers may often interpret a poem by using surrounding events to place the poem within its historical context. This common approach looks at major past events that occurred during the time a poem was written and regards the poem as a social commentary. For example, a reader can better understand the poetry of Langston Hughes by grasping the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance in America. Without this historical context, Langston Hughes poem Mother to Son may change into a poem that highlights only the mother-son relationship rather than the societal battles of Black-Americans. Such analysis acts in favor of analyzing a poem with respect to historical events. However, the downfall of seeing a poem as a social commentary is that such an approach interprets the emotions expressed by the poet as not an individual emotion but a collective reaction to an idea or event. Thus, in the process of assuming the poets tone, the reader assumes that the poet represents the majority opinion felt by a group of individuals instead of focusing on the poets specic tone and distinct narrator. For example, if Hughes poem were analyzed as a literary piece in the Harlem Renaissance and situated within the societal battles of Black-Americans, this approach would constitute an outside-in one since it assumes that Hughes saw societal conditions and intended for his poem to t this broader context. However, the more accurate approach would be to take an inside-out approach by focusing on the maternal love that Hughes tries to express and seeing how it ts in within the historical events. The most accurate assumption of the poets intention would be to incorporate the personal voice of the poem rather than to make an extension to social events. This would build a more comprehensive understanding because there are clearly two layers of narrative: one is the mothers voice that speaks to her son, and the second comprises the manner in which Hughes represents the mother. While writing the poem, he could have written with a strong conviction that a mothers role during this time as well as her sacrices and suerings are what perpetuated the generation of sons acting on their behalf. It could very well be a personal narrative to show his own relationship with his mother. Although these are all assumptions, it opens up the interpretation of the poem to be more than just a receptacle to reect general sentiments of a group during a period of time. Rather, it acknowledges a complex interaction between the multiple voices and presents a combination of intentions to show that a collective historical process can be reected in individual histories through a process by which the poet combines a personal experience with a collective one to induce a certain emotion in a poem. Korean poetry is also often analyzed with regards to historical events such as notable aairs including the Japanese occupation, national division, and domestic political suppression. Again, seeing such poetry solely as a reection of historical time marginalizes the text as resistance poetry or a nationalist text , thereby oversimplifying the extent to which it can be analyzed. David McCann comments on this approach that marginalizes Korean poems, stating that modern Korean poetry is

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often reduced in subsequent constructions of these events and conditions as chapters in the modern Korean historical narrative.1 To understand poems written during the colonial period from 1910 to 1945, should the reader and translator assume that these poems are written only to reect a sense of national repression from the Japanese? If a poem were to be analyzed solely in its historical context, the emotions evoked in the reader would be associated only with this context as well. Analogously, for individuals who had never heard of Black-Americans societal battles and the Harlem Renaissance, it would be dicult to understand Mother to Son. However, regardless of temporal social conditions, readers can empathize with the mothers sentiments in a mother-son relationship. Thus, associating these feelings as unique to the Harlem Renaissance or Black-American struggles would marginalize the poem and disregard the multiple layers of narrative and respective emotions. Nonetheless, Korean poems are constantly viewed as embodying certain distinct Korean emotions. Literary critics such as Chung Chong-wha describe what she sees as uniquely Korean characteristics that derive from traditional literature. She enumerates love of Nature, lyricism, nihilism, humanism...[and] sentimentalism as distinctly Korean feelings shown in literature.2 However, these characteristics cannot be seen as uniquely Korean because ultimately, these are universal emotions that other cultures also embody. In this process of understanding poetry as a reaction to social phenomena, it is assumed that an emotion expressed is distinct from the Korean ethos, which is taken to be a sense of suppression. Although the inuence of certain historical events is undeniable, there are blatant fallacies in the argument that such emotions as inherently Korean while disregarding the complex construction of the emotion. Returning to the question of why popular poetry collections published in Korea are often titled, Poems that Koreans Like, rather than a more general title, it is important to realize that general Korean reader and the abstract Korean readership are constructed identities. Taking personal emotions and transferring it to a national context involves the historical production of a group identity that happens after the fact. Thus, generations after the rst publishing of a poem, editors may associate the poet with a particular moment in history and attribute the poets popularity as being able to succinctly and eectively evoke and represent such a moment. This is especially true if the poem was written in a time when a particular group was undergoing a dening moment in its group identity. This can be seen in the understanding of Langston Hughes poetry, as it is often related to the Harlem Renaissance and the history of Black-Americans regardless of the multitude of voices in the poem. The common interpretation of Mother to Son shows how a poet and a poem become the aesthetic representations of a collective discourse. Michael Bourdaghs also refers to this bridge between aesthetic romanticism and nationalist discourse as he points to how writers like Yumiko Iida discuss Japanese nationalism in isolation. Iidas book, Rethinking Identity in Modern Ja1 David. R. McCann, ed., The Columbia anthology of modern Korean poetry, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 10. 2 Chong-wha Chung, ed., Modern Korean Poetry, (Seoul: Korean Culture & Arts Foundation, 1983), 7.

Han Translating Modern Korean Poetry

pan: Nationalism as Aesthetics, shows how movements of romantic nationalism throughout 20th-century Japanese history were attempts to counter the alienations of capitalist development. Just as Bourdaghs notes that the association of aesthetics to nationalist discourse is not unique to Japan, the creation of the Korean reader or a resistance poet in the context of colonialism can be seen as identities created in a similar movement. Furthermore, although the need to produce aesthetic representations of a nationalist discourse may lead editors to associate the poetry of Kim Sowl and Yun Tong-ju with a particular moment in Korean history, the identity of the Korean reader must be deconstructed through the analysis of Korean emotions in order to show that such emotions are not unique to the Korean ethos and that the appeal of such poetry is transferable across cultures,

II. Deconstructing Collective Korean Emotions: Han and Ynmin


In contrast to the institutionalized concepts mentioned by Chung, emotions that constantly appear in popular 20th-century Korean poetry are the concepts of chng, ynmin, and miryn three ideas that can refer to an attachment or interconnectedness among people and more symbolically between the Korean people and their country during a time of oppression. These three ideas can be linked under the idea of han (), the most representative term that expresses a sense of lingering that commonly relates to colonial history and the stied voices of the public. Undoubtedly, the primary reason these emotions are associated with being Korean can be attributed to its lack of clear and easy translatability. Since there is no one word in the English language that can describe these terms, the initial answer to this barrier in translation would be to consider them untranslatable Korean emotions experienced and delineated in response to the specic national experience of colonialism. However, if these emotions are associated with a distinct moment of Korean history, can these emotions be conceived as distinctly Korean as well? The following analysis will rst show how the present meanings of these emotions were constructed. It will then argue that assuming han, ynmin, chng, and miryn to be uniquely Korean emotions marginalizes these poems as either resistance or colonial poetry and, as such, obstructs a readers full understanding of the poem. Therefore, associating a poem with a certain historical context instead of focusing on the complex interaction of the construction of emotion creates a barrier in understanding the depth and multiplicity of sentiments within a particular poem. In order to transfer the appeal felt by a Korean audience to an English-speaking audience, the reader should rst focus on inuencesboth historical and personalthat aected how the poet regarded the subject of the poem. After this initial approach, the next step is to take such inuences into account while grasping the emotions the poet intended to evoke. Only after accomplishing these two measures can an English audience hope to understand and comprehend such Korean emotions.

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Chinese neologisms and other external influences in the construction of emotions


With the modern understanding of these untranslatable Korean words, it is interesting to note that the etymology of the words reveals inuences that did not originate within Korea. Focusing on the etymology and notion of ynmin that appears in poems such as Yun Tong-jus Self Portrait reveals the role of Chinese neologisms within Korean poetry. For example, two sets of Chinese characters are used in Korean to represent the word ynmin: and . However, it is subsequently importantly to note that the concept of ynmin did not originate from China but rather from a central concept in Buddhism that describes it as a feeling among all living things that share the suering and sadness and seeks to heal altogether.3 This idea of using Chinese characters for pronunciation and meaning is termed Idu () and is surprisingly common throughout Korean history.4 In Nature and Poetic Sensibility: A Glimpse of Korean Poetry, Lee Sung-Il from the University of Washington shows the historical background of the Korean vernacular and its inuence on modern poetry. He states, Until Hanglthe Korean orthographic systemKoreans had to nd some means of recording the poetic lines they composed in the vernacularthey borrowed the Chinese characters. This does not mean that they translated the lines into Chinese. They simply borrowed the Chinese characters, the sounds of which could roughly retain the sounds in the vernacular. For so long, people have wondered why the Korean language contains so many words made up of Chinese lettersthose Korean words and phrases made of Chinese letters naturally came into being through this initial process of incorporating them in the written poetic lines.5 From the etymology of the word itself as well as the transnational religious base of ynmin, it becomes clear that the concept of ynmin did not originate in Korea and cannot be interpreted as a reection of a pure Korean ethos. The idea of han is more complex as it requires a distinction between how han was conceptualized in pre-colonial Korean society and how it is conceived today. First, regarding han in the modern sense, Ahn Shin-ho from Pusan University presents studies that show how Koreans associate han as a distinctly Korean idea. In a 1996 study conducted by Lee Hee-Kyung, a group of college students were asked to write down terms that they associated with the word han: more than 65% of the respondents wrote a specic trait of Korea or Korean people, suggesting their interpretation of the term as the sense of repression as a national identity under Japanese colonial rule.6 Furthermore, several studies examined the ways in which
3 4 5 6 Bhante Walpola Piyananda, Saron Days in L.A., (Canada: Shambhala, 2001). Kim Sang Tae, Aesthetics of Perseverance and Waiting: A Korean Cultural Memory 29 (2002): 239. Lee Sung-Il, Nature and Poetic Sensibility: A Glimpse of Korean Poetry, Korea Journal 36.2 (1996): 106. . : ? 6:2 (1997): 61.

Han Translating Modern Korean Poetry

people dened han. According to an earlier study performed in 1991 by Choe Sangjin, individuals dierentiated han from wn (), a sentiment that expresses bearing a grudge or a strong grievance. In contrast, han is the sentiment felt in a situation where a person is placed in an undesirable situation and contains a sense of being a victim or the recipient of an unjust action. An interesting similarity across these surveys was that, when asked to think of han as a personal emotion and to associate it with an individual who was aected by han, 91% of people claimed it was a female such as a mother, grandmother, mothers friend or neighbor. From this gendered notion of han, it is then important to see how this idea changed from its pre-colonial context. Within his ndings from the same study, Choe states that han in the Chosn dynasty was present in three situations. The rst occurred with an unfair treatment from an upper-class yangban to a lower-class commoner. The second situation was that which resulted from an inherent scarcity or dearth, such as poverty or the aw of a child. The last situation was a mistake that could not be undone, such as a child regretting after the death of a parent his lack of fulllment of lial duties. It is interesting that although these conceptualizations are understood within a Confucian context, the gendered notion of han is not present. Whereas the modern notion had a predominantly feminine association with han, the notion of han in the Chosn dynasty was aliated with the societal hierarchy and Confucianism. Despite the Confucian relationship between men and women that places women as the recipients of the action, this was not due to the conceptualization of han. Where does this transition come in terms of the gendered thought, and if han is also associated with the suppression of the national body under Japanese colonialism, how are the two connected? At the 2001 KCLA International Conference: Cultural Memory in the East and West at Ewha University, Kim Sang-Tae presented his work, Aesthetics of Perseverance and Waiting: A Korean Cultural Memory, which posits an alternative to this conceptualization of han. While comparing Western and Korean love poems, Kim noted that whereas most Western poems are about the knights struggling to win the hearts of their ladies or about asking their ladies to return to them, many Korean love poems are about women waiting for their men to return to them. Their love is measured by the degree of self control and the amount of waiting they are able to suer.7 While this is certainly a generalization, this characteristic of Korean love poems proves true in the case of Kim Sowls poem, Azaleas. Kim then attributes this value placed on waiting and perseverance to a Korean cultural memory: two important tales in Korean history stress the importance of waiting and perseverance, and Kim claims that these tales resonate with the cultural memory of the Korean people. First, the popular traditional love story The Tale of Chunhyang presents a Chosn society womans life of waiting for her love. Imprisoned after rejecting an ofcials demands that she become his concubine, Chunhyang steadfastly waits for her love. Kim claims that this presents Chosn societys idea of waiting as the womans
7 Kim, Aesthetics of Perseverance and Waiting, 243.

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supreme moral obligation and virtue. Although this could be seen more as a reection of Confucian notions of delity rather than waiting, Kim claims the tale of the Tangun myth ()the Korean creation mythshows that the prototype of Korean perseverance and waiting was conceived and established well before the rise of Confucianism.8 In this myth, Hwanung, the son of the heavenly emperor, is sent to rule the Earth, at which point a tiger and bear approach Hwanung saying they want to be turned into humans; Hwanung oers them wormwood and garlic and instructs them to remain in a cave for 100 days and nights. The myth concludes with the tiger conceding midway but the bear enduring until the end, ultimately becoming a woman. The woman and Hwanung have a baby boy who becomes the founder of the Korean nation, Tangun. In this case, the moral of the story emphasizes the importance of enduring diculty and the fact that this virtue is associated specically with women. Kim further mentions that, in contrast to the neighboring vagabond and hunting culture of the Mongols, the nature of Koreans agricultural society made endurance and waiting essentials ways for survival. Thus, from the Tangun creation myth, notions of perseverance and waiting were considered a womens virtue. However, after the Chosn societys association of han with grievances from class structure, these two ideassuering from a societal difference of structure and the virtue of perseverance were combined into a new notion of han as an individual sentiment of burden felt mostly by women after becoming victimized from an unfair oppression. This sense of han as an individual emotion was eventually connected to a collective sentiment in the post-colonial era. The notion that Koreans are a suppressed collective of individuals with a history of victimization is a consequence of the Japanese colonial period. With a gendered notion of colonialism that associates a stronger, masculine identity with the colonizer and a weaker, eeminate identity with the colonized, it is evident that the idea emerged that Koreans are the oppressed and the recipients of actions. In the aftermath of colonialism, the inability to resist colonized rule and the association with a binary gender system presented Korea as a national body embodying the feminine role. This emphasis of Korea as a suppressed nation came from Japanese scholarship to provide han as a later understanding of colonialism. The most important point in the transition of han to its modern context is that Korea as a national body internalized this colonial concept that the feminine role is to be suppressed. The evidence from Chosn society shows that, although women were the recipients of actions, this position represented their values of perseverance and waiting; the idea of han and suppression was mainly placed into a Confucian context of societal class structure. However, because Korean society wanted to counter this idea of colonial rule and to rid the notion that it was a weaker nation, the binary systems of oppressor-oppressed, masculine-feminine were brought to be contained within the nation itself. This created the present day phenomenon that, although the national, collective sentiments of han and suppression do exist, this visible weakness on an individual level is a feminine trait, and
8 Ibid., 238.

Han Translating Modern Korean Poetry

women are associated with being the people aected by han. This analysis of han and the hybridity in its conceptualization shows that the present notion of han is not a pure concept that originated from within Korea. It combines a discourse of external factors and an internalization of gendered identity. Furthermore, to understand the interrelatedness of the emotions that relate to the Korean ethos, it is interesting to see that the construction of han as an emotion is interrelated with the emergence of the concept of chng. To explain the construction of the idea of chng () that evolved from the notion of han, it is important to see how that chng in poetry shows the emergence of the self as an important concept. First, chng expresses a connection and attachment between people. The common use of the word as a noun is to fall into chng or to become attached to someone else. This use shows the transition from a person considering oneself to be an individual unit to considering oneself as part of a collective unit. This communal feeling is analyzed in Choe Sang-jins 1990 Weness: A Korean Discourse of Collectivism in which he distinguishes the Korean idea of collectivism in the context of chng. Comparing this notion of community to similar concepts in Japanese such as ninjo, giri and amae, Choe makes a distinction between East Asian ideas of collectivism and Western notions. His claims that in East Asian collectivism, a personal and subjective experience is the essence of a weconsciousness. The subjective experience helps construct the collective identity, as the two are not mutually exclusive concepts. However, in the Western notion, the individual identity could come into conict with a group identity. The main dierence is that in East Asian collectivism, there is a sense of situating the collective identity as an overarching identity where conicting individual identities can be placed second and even sacriced. This concept arises in another thesis, The Representation of Koreans and their Jung (), a collective paper written by professors from Chungang University. Their thesis maintained that people who associated themselves with chng cared about others interests and placed them above their own interests at times. In addition, chng is derived from the Confucian concept that emphasizes that the importance of a family, as the collective unit, supersedes the individual notion at times. Thus, chng may come into conict with a notion of the individual.9 However, there is an important distinction to be made between the idea of an individualistic identity and a self identity that could be analyzed in terms of interiority and coextensivity. Going back to the idea of han, after the acknowledgement that the national body was the oppressed, the notion of gendered identity was internalized to remove this sense of weakness. In this case, the national body saw the negative connotation of han and placed this weaker idea upon the female identity. To counter this notion, a step of interiority or coextensivity was taken in order to re-establish chng as a positive concept. In the Chosn dynasty, the use of the word chng was chng bun na da or become attached through courtship. Now an archaic phrase, the expression alludes to discreet dating in an era of arranged marriages with strict rules
9 , , (1993b).

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on romantic relationships and contact between individuals of opposite genders. However, the modern idea of chng has a positive implication that stresses a human connection and infuses a sense of warmth in emotions. As the current use of chng is chng deul da or fall into a sense of connectedness, the phrase emphasizes an interconnectedness that allows individuals to empathize with one another. Thus, chng carries a similar meaning to the above-mentioned Japanese terms of ninjo and giri, which shows that chng is not a concept distinct to the Korean ethos. It is present in other East Asian contexts, and the diculty in translation from Korean to English is not from the fact that chng is a uniquely Korean concept, but rather that East Asian and Western collectivism have dierent notions. Furthermore, the construction of chng as a positive emotion in the context of han can be seen through an explanation of coextensivity. This is the idea that the national body sees past experiences of power-relations and current conditions in order to exist together and to dene itself. Allowing han to remain in the negative context, it may be that chng was transformed into the positive counterpart of the idea. Since both ideas deal with a lingering attachment to past experiences, han is constructed to emphasize the hindrances from expressing such attachment while chng is the manifestation of such humanly ties in the form of a connection between people. Coextensivity embraces the idea of conicting thoughts existing together for self-denition. The coexistence of han and chng is an example of how both can be dened as emotions of Korean people despites its conicting nature. Thus, from an analysis of han and chng it can be seen how they are emotions that are certainly associated with the Korean people but not necessarily unique to Korean people. Even in the present day, not every Korean agrees on the denition of han, and it is important to see how, even within cultures, concepts can be incommensurable. Before looking at the poems of Kim Sowl and Yun Tong-ju and the application of these ideas, it is important to conclude with one last detail about the construction of these two emotions.

III. Self-Definition in Poetry


Seeing that han and chng can coexist, there is one last dierence to note between the two emotions that are manifested in their representations in poetry. Regarding han, the ways to rid oneself of this burden is through han-puri or sal-puri that has origins in Korean shamanism. This presents the notion that han is a burden that one is entangled with and will need to be untangled from. The idea of sal-puri is that a spirit of a deceased person with han had entered a live persons body and thus needs to go through a process of exorcism with a shaman to release that sprit. In this sense, han is something that is released from oneself to be at peace with the rest of the world. The acts of han-puri and sal-puri are ones that harmonize dierences and relieve burdens between oneself and another. It does not stress the personal revenge or acting upon a grudge. However, if the release of han is the act of harmonizing between oneself

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and another to make a cohesive collective unit void of any personal revenge or indulgence in personal emotion, the release of chng indicates a self-consciousness that expresses a personal emotion. It was mentioned before that people associating themselves with chng cared about others interests in conjunction with the Confucian concept that emphasized the importance of the family unit, with collective units supersede the individual notion at times. However, this rejection of an individualistic notion is dierent from a self-consciousness that arises in the process. The essence of self-consciousness is the idea of attaining the awareness of self. While continuing to rearm the idea that places the collective identity above the individual identity, there is a realization in the process that allows for a space for one to exist. This stresses that the existence of a community is based on the personal connections between oneself and another individual. In Korean, this dierence would be the dierence of meanings between cha-a ( or) and kae-in ( or ). In the process of releasing chng, there is a realization of self that has personal ties and attachments to another. The expression of emotion shows chng and it does not mean that the self-awareness acts against the communal identity. Rather than the han-puri that releases han to create the harmonious communal unit, chng expresses the natural attachment amongst people. This idea of chng and self-consciousness will be present in Yun Tong-jus Self-Portrait.

IV. Kim Sowls Azaleas


In Kim Sowls Azaleas, the sentiment of han is overwhelming as it presents a protagonist who is extremely sad that a lover is leaving but suppresses any visible emotion. The literal text is that an individual who has parted with a lover says rhetorically that he or she will let the lover go without shedding tears. The individual also says that he or she will take azaleas and leave them scattered on the ground for the lover to step on. Several dierent interpretations can be applied. First, it is clear that the person sending away the lover feels strongly for the person yet suppresses these emotions and bids them farewell. The importance is that it shows the lover is leaving but the protagonist is resigned with this fact and does not try to stop him or her. Nonetheless, the individuals still feels attached and wishes the lover a beautiful farewell by leaving owers on the parting way showing a sense of miryn a dissatisfaction and regret for something that could have been completed but has never been accomplished. When the protagonist asks the lover to step on the owers, the reader can assume that the owers are symbolic for the persons hear, and the individual is, in essence, asking the lover to crush his or her heart. If the person is interpreted as being sarcastic, the last stanza in which the individual proclaims that he or she will not cry can be read as a sarcastic statement. However, considering the emotion of han is rst presented as a suppression of emotions, it should not be interpreted as sarcasm but rather as a realization of selfblame that stops the person from expressing any emotion of sadness. In fact, asking the lover to tread softly can even be interpreted as a sense of ynmin. Jin Sun-Ae

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interprets the request of treading softly within the Buddhist context of ynmin that connects all living beings. The person wants to share the suering of the freshly picked owers that are symbolic for the heart. However, the person not only wants to preserve the beauty of the owers but become one with the owers as mutual living beings. Thus, ynmin in this instance can be interpreted in the Buddhist context. Finally, in the last stanza, the person says that he or she will not shed tears, and this suggests the possibility that the individual could cry, but is refraining and holding back the tears. There is a similar use of the negation in the rst stanza where the person focuses on the silence and absence of action. Returning to the concept of han that is intertwined in the entire poem, there are various inuences on Kim Sowls life that led him to write such a piece. The poem was published in 1925 and may indeed reect a nationalized mentality of suppression during colonialism. However, seeing that this poem is also a love poem with personal emotions, other factors in Kim Sowls personal life should be considered that led him to include such emotions.

Family Background and Influences


Poet Oh Se-Yng presents a detailed account of Kim Sowls life that allows a reader to see several important external inuences. While focusing on his family background in order to understand it eect on Kims personality, it is important to note that his father was mentally disabled. Oh presents a Freudian analysis and aruges that during the time when Kim would have experienced the Oedipus complex and felt his father was a competitor for his mothers love, his father was not in a physical state to inuence Kim. The lack of competition for love in his life can be seen in Azaleas where there is also an absence of this consciousness of competition regarding love. In addition to the lack of a male role model in his life, it is interesting to see that the females in his life inuenced him in negative ways. Accounts provided by Kims aunt show that Kims illiterate mother could not appreciate his literary passion and only became a burden for him. Furthermore, Kims auntthe only person he kept in contact withhad constant problems with her husband as he left her repeatedly. From these personal inuences, it can be assumed that Kim experienced a lonely childhood with no male role models, as his only inuences were from women who also had relationship problems with men. Moreover, accounts show that Kim himself also suered from personality orders. People around him claim that he was overly rational and never expressed any emotions outwardly. Oh assumes he was highly introverted and such introversion should be understood as a self-suppression that follows with a self-deprecating behavior. Kim never expressed any dissatisfaction but his unreleased frustration amounted to an internal han that he expressed through his poetry. Thus, the understanding of Kims personal history helps explain why his poetry shows such personal sentiments of han and suppressed emotions. The act of letting go, bidding silent farewell, and stopping oneself from crying is not only descriptive of the individual within the poem but also of Kim himself. However,

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the dierence is that within Azaleas and all of his other poems, the protagonist is associated with a female character speaking to a male character. Literary critic Yun Ho-Byng claims that all of Kims poems are about separation between lovers and that there is a self-suppression of emotions that would otherwise normally arise only from a separation between lovers. More importantly, Yun also claims that the voices in Kims poems never even identity the other subject. There is no reference to you or him but rather, the poems remain as unheard soliloquies. Oh presents a similar argument that Kims poems show a person letting the lover go, only to feel hurt later. He associates this with a traditionally female gure, as women are left as the recipient of the action of sending away the male. Ohs arguments are strengthened when considering the virtues of waiting and perseverance that were discussed earlier. The value placed upon waiting, as seen in the Tale of Chunhyang, would be an example of this female trait. Furthermore, considering the female inuences in Kims life, it is clear that his views of love and separation were inuenced by the experiences of the women around him. The suering reects that of his illiterate mother who virtually lost her husband, his aunt whose husband constantly left her, and his other aunt who had become the a mans second wife. Therefore, while it is not conrmed within the text, it can also be assumed that the voice in Azaleas is a woman speaking about a man.

Popularity of Azaleas
Regarding the popularity of Kim Sowls poetry and Azaleas, which are alltime favorites among Korean readers, several dierent critics point to structure as a crucial reason underlying Kims popularity. From the original text, the structure is 4/3/5 3/4/5 for three of the four stanzas. This contains the form embodied by traditional songs or minyos where there is a division into three with three lines per verse. Critics claim that this structure goes back to the early Chosn period and is seen in two poems, Tanshimga and Hayga that would have been written as songs. In these two poems that are famous for representing the loyalty of two individualsone from the Chosn dynasty and the other from the Kory dynastyit can be seen that the 3/4/5 structure was used as early as in the 1390s. However, the importance of Kims poems employing the 3/4/5 structure of traditional songs can be understood as an eort to connect him to the nationalist discourse and to make the work a distinctly Korean poem with a Korean structure. The alternative way of analyzing Kims structure is that it maintains a 7/5/7 structure. Instead of dividing it as 3/4/5, it can be seen as 7/5/5/7, with the combination of 7 and 5 indicating a similarity to the Japanese haiku structure that uses a 5/7/5 syllabic form. Since Kim once studied in Japan, it is very possible that he could have been inuenced by the 5/7/5 form. Nonetheless, in the eorts to label him as a nationalist poet who appealed to the Korean reader, many literary critics reject the possibility of the 7/5/7 structure. This is a clear indication of the conscious connection between Kims style and a national discourse in which his poetic style could not have been

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inuenced by Japanese poetry. Instead of trying to keep to a syllabic form of 3/4/5 or asserting that this was Kims intention, I focus on the common element of the division into three lines per stanza that exists in both interpretations of his style. Thus, considering that there was both an inuence of colonialism as well as his personal life and that his structures embodied a traditional style, one cannot simply state that he is a resistance poet or a poet producing nationalist poetry. In Image of Suering in Modern Korean Poetry, Shin Dong-Wook creates a clear distinction between a national poet and a nationalist poet. The dierence between the national poet or the minjok si-in and the nationalist poet minjok jui si-in is that the former describes a poet who keeps to basic forms of the Korean tradition when writing his poems. During this period of colonialism with inuences from foreign poets of France, England and Japan, Kim strived to maintain a distinctly Korean form, which qualies him as a national poet. However, he is not a nationalist poet because the term nationalist carries a political or societal connotation where a poet would write only to inspire a national identity. Thus, although Kims poetry includes some ideas to propel nationalist ideals, he also presents a personal history in his poems and therefore cannot be marginalized as a nationalist poet. Oh creates his own terms to describe Kim, labeling him a reality-evading poet who expresses the emotional loss of a colony through a personal sorrow. Extending this idea, there is more of an interconnectedness between his experiences in the private and public sphere than there is a causal relation from the loss of a colony expressed through a personal sorrow. As seen in the analysis of the form as well as in the claims by critics that he kept to the Korean traditional form, his popularity cannot be attributed to something distinctly Korean, as even the forms indicate a sense of inuence from Japanese haikus. After analyzing Yun Tong-jus poetry, a separate reason will be given for a possible appeal of these poets.

V. Yun Tong-jus Self Portrait


If Kim Sowl is popular for expressing a Korean voice and emotions of han in the midst of colonialism, Yun Tong-jus popularity can be attributed to his accurate portrayal of the darkness of colonial rule. If Kim aligns more with being a national poet, Yun is often seen as a nationalist poet. The latter part of this poets life shows that after being admitted at a university in Kyoto, he was arrested by the Japanese police in 1943 and died while in prison.10 The fact that he had continued to write after going to Japan and expressed a self-identity in his poems leads one to believe that the self-identity presented in his poetry is surely a metaphorical allusion to the desire to nd a new national identity under colonial rule. Nonetheless, along with this newfound sense of self-identity, Yuns family background and other surrounding factors also had a signicant inuence in the construction of his poetry. Avoiding the approach to interpret his poetry solely under the lens of colonialism, there is a need to analyze his religious background and specic
10 , : (: , 2004), 101.

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voice used throughout his poems.

Family Background and Influences


In the colonial period where expression of personal beliefs was strictly limited, Yun grew up in a setting where his entire family was devout followers of Christianity. From this Christian background, Kim Yong-Chik analyzes the essence of returning to a point that is often present in Yuns poems. This leitmotif of going back is shown in Self-Portrait, where he returns to the well to see his reection. Kim believes that this idea of returning to a central place to meditate on ones reection is parallel to the idea of a central church where people routinely return to learn and follow.11 More than just an invisible tie to a central belief, the idea of self-reection is essential in understanding Yuns poetry as it is core idea in Christianity and permeates his poetry through the use of several key images. This idea of self-reection also contains the notion of realization that there is a consciousness involved in the process with the reference to the construction of cha-a. The imagery of self-reection in Self-Portrait is none other than the well into which he looks in order to see his reection. There are several important characteristics about this well that are worthy of noting before grouping it under just one idea of self-reection. First, he describes the location of this well. It is located in an isolated place around the corner of a mountain and, compared to a family well that would have been used in traditional Korean houses, this well has less contact with people. Thus, this untouched well remains uncontaminated by any outside factors, and it reects the truth. The reection of the moon, clouds, sky and the wind before he mentions his own reection shows that the well is not a selective lens through which certain images are represented in a skewed way: the well acts as a mirror to reect the truth of what exists in reality. Second, it is also signicant to note that he looks into the well not in broad daylight but at nighttime. The presence of a moon shows that he went out of his way in the dark to look into a well to see his own reection. This characterizes the space that Yun creates by showing that the person in the poem is seeking to see his own image in the midst of darkness. This is evidently a reection of colonialism, undoubtedly the darkest period of Korean history. The darkness or shadow that is placed upon the people stied the ability to express individuality, and as such, expressions about liberty or freedom had to be discreet. Independence ghters worked in private, away from the public eye. This idea of working secretively in isolation to nd oneself is seen in Self-Portrait as the man goes to a distant well to look at himself. In addition, the diculty of identifying one concrete interpretation of Yun may be best explained by translator Brother Anthony, who uses the phrase aesthetics of shame to include elements of colonized mentality, self-reection and full subjectivity. In his analysis of Self Portrait, he writes: Crippled and humiliated, the colonized consciousness might wish to
11 , (: , 1995), 123.

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turn its eyes away from itself, but Yun Tongjus poetry makes clear that it is through unsparing self-examination that one might achieve a conscience adapted to the time [and] come to achieve full subjectivity; here the existential space of an individual is at one with the expansive sociohistorical horizon that embraces it. For Yun Tongju, self-examination was an act neither of self-destruction nor of self-denigration, but one of self-recovery.12 This thorough explanation discusses the ideas of self-denigration and self-destruction, both of which Brother Anthony rejects. The phrase, , [Somehow despising that young man, I turn away,] is often translated as hate, since it may initially seem like a sadistic self-reection of oneself. Critics who analyze Yun solely in relation to colonialism may see this idea of self-loathing and the frustration at oneself as an indication of the colonized mentality and a sense of repression. However, this interpretation ignores the sense of longing that is shown when the protagonist starts to think and realizes that he is starting to miss the man in the well. This sense of longing is synonymous to miryn, as he wishes he were back at the well due to his sense of attachment. It is also important to note that the miryn that the person feels toward himself is very dierent from the miryn between the protagonist of Azaleas and her lover. In Azaleas, the woman longs for her lover, yet suppresses her emotions in order to become the recipient of these actions despite her feelings. In Self-Portrait, the protagonist longs to see the reection and takes an active role rather than a receptive role to express this miryn by going back to the well. Thus, Kim Sowl creates a protagonist who suppresses her emotions of miryn to present a sense of han, whereas Yun Tong-ju shows a protagonist who feels a sense of miryn and expresses his chng towards the image by returning to the well. In this instance, the attempt to understand a poem through a solely historical context has limited the poem in the ideas that it presents. The original poem contains elements of a colonial identity but includes a complex infusion of concern for the self that allows the reader to see many sides of this persons self-reection. Moon Byung-Wook claims that Yun Tong-ju expresses the paradoxical narcissism through the self-love by way of hate. It could be said that the narcissism in Korean literature could begin to receive illuminating code by this poet for the rst time (Moon 270). If this combination of concern for the self and miryn is not reected, it would take away an important complex concept. Returning to the idea of self-identity and cha-a that is constructed through chng, this is a prime example of how a person nds self within the collective body. This also shows how the expression of personal attachment shows the realization of self .

Conclusion
The two poems, Azaleas and Self-Portrait, are distinctly dierent in terms of style
12 Brother Anthony , ed. , Twentieth Century Korean Literature, http://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/anthony/20CKoreanLit. pdf.

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and subject, yet they embody the same emotions of miryn and ynmin that appeal to Korean readers. Looking at the etymology of some of these terms and the conditions upon which they were constructed, it cannot be stated that the emotions are distinctly Korean. Rather, the use of the emotions in conjunction with the historical construct of the national body creates an undeniable appeal. Furthermore, the emphasis on Kim Sowl and Yun Tong-ju as nationalist poets and Azaleas and Self-Portrait as resistance poetry is rejected because there is an element of personal history to consider in addition to the historical aspect. Through the progression between han and chng in these two poems, the reader can see a change in the ways to express oneself in a collective mentality. This change in the expression of personal emotions also mirrors the change in the construction of han and chng as one can see a self-historicizing process of these emotions. Theories of coextensivity explain how emotions are structured through a set of relations. Here, in the attempt of a nation to dene itself, the private and public spheres also interact to reect the collectivized emotions in an individual way. Moreover, there is a shared characteristic between both poems that none of the literary critics point out. In the 1990s, the idea of the destruction of language in the Korean language became a topic of debate as the use of the Internet perpetuated a growth of the use of language that deed grammatical rules. Linguists were concerned about the future of the Korean language and how colloquial use would adhere to a central set of guidelines, since this phenomenon produced new terms that broke grammatical norms. Nonetheless, the creation of something new that broke from the norm appealed to both readers and users of language. For example, poets like Yong Hye-wn uses phrases that have no sense of adherence to grammatical structure. However, considering that poetry of every culture employs aesthetic techniques that at times sacrice a strict adherence to grammatical rules, this is not a unique phenomena to the Korean language and Korean poetry. What is interesting is that the destruction of language incorporates a juxtaposition of senses. For example, or the idea that a heart could be associated with a color infuses the sense of sight, thereby creating a new sense of appeal. In the same way, in Self-Portrait, the phrase [A pale blue wind blows] is also an example where the sense of touch is infused with a sense of sight. The wind is both seen and felt because the protagonist feels the wind blowing but sees the blue hue of the wind. This emancipation is termed or a synesthesic expression where the stimulation of one sense produces the sensation of a dierent sense. Similar to synesthesic expression, both poems also share a sense of paradox. Azaleas and Self-Portrait both have conicting notions within the poems as protagonists of the poems experience one thing but respond in ways that contradict the expected reaction. Moon mentions the idea of paradoxical self-concern with Yun Tong-jus work, but this concern for the self ultimately shows that the authors write in one way that is opposite to how they feel. However, this writing of the opposite strengthens what they say. An example of this literary paradox in Azaleas is the voice saying she

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will not cry. The emphasis on the negation of an action actually stresses that it would be natural for a woman to cry in this situation. In Self-Portrait, the constant dislike is countered by the persons actions of returning to the well. The voices in the poem do not follow what their emotions show and vice versa. Thus, this idea of literary paradox accounts for the popularity of both these poems and for their appeal among readers. What makes these poems unique is that they invoke a particular emotion but in turn, act in an unexpected way that contradicts how a reader would react in the same situation. To translate this appeal to English requires an understanding of that sense of paradox and using contrasting words to display the inherent irony. The understanding of dierent narrative voices in the text and their multiplicity of intentionsthat of the poet and that of the voice in the poemshould both be conveyed in translations in order that this paradox can be comprehended, and only then will non-Korean readers understand the appeal of poems popular among Korean readers.

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