Vol.61 Autumn 2023
Following the emergence of AI, concerns have been mounting over the technology’s encroachment upon domains of human expertise. One field notably impacted is translation, where artificial intelligence has surpassed humans in terms of speed. However, literary translation presents a different set of challenges for AI. At this juncture in time, it is crucial that we remind ourselves of the originality and creativity that goes into literary translation.
The main theme explored in this issue of KLN is “The Artistry of Literary Translation and the Advent of AI.” Rather than adopting a pessimistic view of the ongoing threats facing the translation field, the Cover Feature section offers essays that draw clear distinctions between artificial and human intelligence by looking at the work of translation as a “literary endeavor.” Pointing to the complexity and multidimensionality of language, which carries both social and literary significance, author Shin Yoo Jin offers a reflection on the words of translator Jung Young-Mok who said, “The task of the translator is not to achieve a perfect translation, but to perfect the language.” In another essay, Professor Chung Eun-Gwi, a long-time translator of Korean literature, shares her own personal journey with poetry translation while stressing that artificial intelligence ignores the decision-making process of human translators. Finally, Kim Seungbok, head of the publishing company CUON, delves into the driving forces behind the remarkable surge in Korean literature’s popularity in Japan, offering an illuminating piece which promises to instill a renewed sense of pride in the hearts of Korean literature readers.
This issue’s Featured Writer section is dedicated to Ha Seong-nan, highly regarded among Korean authors for her meticulous and precise writing style and whose literary career spans nearly three decades. Literary critic Yang Yun-eui analyzes the way “shock” manifests itself in the Ha’s works, revealing new narrative possibilities that offer a captivating and fresh perspective on the author’s literary universe. In her interview, Ha Seong-nan says that writing fiction enables her to channel her fears and overcome a sense of powerlessness. This candid and poignant statement appears to succinctly capture the role of a fiction author amidst the terrible tragedies and suffering that afflict Korean society.
— Cho Yeonjung, Editorial Board Member, KLN