2020 was an astonishing year for Korean literature, with many books winning global recognition.
Sohn Won-pyung's "Almond", Keum-suk Gendry-Kim's anti-war graphic novel "Grass", and Kim Yideum's "Hysteria" were among the record six works of Korean literature that bagged major international awards last year.
"Han Kang's novel "The Vegetarian", Kim Young-ha's "Diary of a Murderer" and Kim Hye-soon's poems "Autobiography of Death". All have won recognition overseas, thanks to the sophisticated work of the unseen men and women who translated these books.”
The Literature Translation Institute of Korea has been working to get quality Korean literature translated and published worldwide.
Just ten years ago, the institute struggled to find the publishers abroad but the persistent efforts paid off, leading to a virtuous cycle of Korean books winning awards and more overseas publishers to reach out to the institute.
"For the past decade, publishers abroad got to know our institute and they no longer passively publish Korean literature rather ask our support to publish Korean books in their own country.
I think what we have done for over 20 years including training translators and interactions abroad is now showing results."
She adds that the increase in the number of native translators has also contributed to such progress.
More native translators are getting interested in Korean literature thanks to the broadening impact of the Korean wave, and one of the teachers at LTI Korea's translation academy says education offered to support native translators has also been one of the reasons why the number has gone up.
"Universities are doing a great job opening Korean studies departments and also presence of Korean literature and culture in Korean book fairs and international events have had great influence."
Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, the special exhibition “Yeok" shares the history of how the institute has supported translators and helped global readers get to know more about Korean literature.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.