With Korean music, films, and dramas all establishing themselves in the global entertainment market, one genre of Korean art has yet to do the same. Korean literary works have been around for 1500 years, and yet, they have never achieved the international success of K-pop bands and K-dramas. But some passionate writers are getting together to change all that, and now the Korean literature world is finally making moves at going global.

PEN International is a literary organization whose purpose is to spread Korean literature around the world, having just held a Globalization of Korean Literature Forum in Seoul on the 30th of November. With a registered membership of over 3400 writers, PEN International advocates for the proliferation of Korean literature overseas. "We need a sustainable effort and investment to introduce Korean literature overseas. It's a pity that Korea doesn't have a Nobel Prize winner," said Sohn Hae Il, vice president of PEN International Korea and director of the Korean Writers' Association of Korea. Sohn, along with five other writers and poets who co-represented the forum, published "World PEN Friends Together," an anthology of poems, children's poems, essays, and fiction, complete with English translations for each piece, all to promote their country's literary culture.

You always have to start somewhere, and Korean literature still has a long road ahead when dealing with establishing itself globally. To gain foreign interest, Sohn Have Il believes there's a need to proactively hold conferences and symposiums around the world. There is also a need to foster and train competent translators, who are capable of communicating the original voices of the various works. But for a genre that has been around for over 1500 years, maybe it really is about time to think about going international. With so much interest in all things Korea around the world, there's no reason Korean literature can't be included in the mix.

Sohn Hae Il, at the Globalization of Korean Literature Forum in Seoul


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