- Editor's Note
Welcome to the third volume of Azalea. Our readers will find the fine translations of contemporary literary works you have come to expect in our project, and the artwork as well, in Kim Atta's resonant photographic compositions.
Three features of the current issue seem especially noteworthy. After some years, the novelist Haïlji's writing has now come to be more broadly recognized as part of a world literature that Korean writing has hopes of engaging. His observations regarding the initially hostile reception of his work bring an important figure, the reader, and especially the contemporary Korean literary critic, back into view as part of the defining matrix in which Korean writing is situated.
Peter Lee makes the p'ansori narrative Ch'unhyang an equal participant in the contemporary world of Korean literature by reminding us again of the work's performance dimensions, while showing us that characteristic, performative aspect of all premodern Korean poetry as song. His point takes on a particular resonance when we note Haïlji's comments about Korean literary influences on his work, where he acknowledges the Korean folksong poet Kim Sowŏl's major impact. And Ch'unhyang's likeness on the covers of kososŏl (old novels) published early in Korean literature's modern period, so generously provided by Adan mungo from their 2007 exhibition catalog, animate how Ch'unhyang was performed in the dime novels of Sowŏl's day. That performance dimension of today's [End Page 5] popular music, TV, and film successes known as the Korean Wave phenomenon suggests a route for Korean literature's movement into the world.
A writer who passed away at the age of just twenty-nine, only a few weeks before the publication of his first book of poems in 1989, Ki Hyŏng-do had a voice, view, and secure accomplishment in his poetry that would have surely carried his work to readers outside of Korea. He enjoys great popularity among Korean readers today, and it is a pleasure to have Gabe Sylvian's translations of twelve of Ki's poems in this issue.
My thanks to all the writers, artists, and translators for the work they have entrusted to this, the third issue of Azalea.
September 2009 [End Page 6]