Vol.37 Autumn 2017
The LTI Korea Fellowship:An Editor’s View
Last June, editors from San Francisco’s Transit Books,Little, Brown in London, and I participated in theamazing LTI Korea Fellowship, where editors frompublishing houses around the world have the opportunityto attend the Seoul International Book Fair and meet a widearray of Korean publishers and writers.New Directions has long benefited from LTI Korea’soutstanding efforts promoting Korean literature abroad. Oureditors enjoy regular visits from the friendly, well-informedLTI Korea staff, and receive the illuminating Korean LiteratureNow as well as other publications. This time, however, I wasable to experience the Korean publishing industry firsthand.On just the first day we attended the Seoul InternationalBook Fair in the famous Gangnam district. In theenormous conference hall, we met rights directors fromMunhakdongne and Changbi, two of South Korea’s mostprominent publishers, and heard about exciting new titlesin their publishing programs. The book fair was a bustlingwonderful experience. That afternoon, our group visited theimpressive LTI Korea offices and met Song Sokze, the prolificKorean writer, whose collection of sharp, satiric stories, TheAmusing Life, was published in English by Dalkey ArchivePress. We also met Helen Cho, a translator and interpreter,who provided us with an overview of Korean literatureand described trends in Korean writing. A lavish receptionthat evening at the Eric Yang Agency offered yet anotheropportunity for editors and writers to meet and mingle andexchange contact information.Other Korean writers we met throughout our visit wereKim Kyung-uk, a young novelist whose works overlap withhis interest in movies; the critic Baik Jieun; Kim Min Jeong,the highly regarded poet and poetry editor at Munhakdongne(her poems have appeared in English in a recent anthologypublished by Vagabond Press); the award-winning writerCheon Myeong-kwan; and the wise and kind Jung YoungMoon, whose fabulous novel Vaseline Buddha came out lastyear with Deep Vellum Press.The final day, I met Kim Hyesoon, the renowned poetwhose Autobiography of Death New Directions will publishnext year. (Her works have appeared in English with ActionBooks and Bloodaxe.) Her work is daring, playful, disturbing,and truly provocative; it was a thrill to meet her and hearabout her writing career.These are just some of the writers and publishers weencountered during our unforgettable trip. The 2017participants of the LTI Korea Fellowship returned homeinspired, energized, and much better informed about all theflourishing literary activity in South Korea. So many talentedand creative people are involved in all aspects of the literaryscene in Seoul and the rest of the country, and I encouragepublishers to investigate the many original offerings that areavailable there.
Steven D. Capener
Associate Professor of Literature and
Seoul Women’s University