The London Book Fair Korea Market Focus 2014: Illusions and Reality – Writing the Self

Kim HyesoonLee Seung-U and Helen Ivory; Chaired by Michael Hulse

Writing has long been linked to the process of self-creation, as an articulation of the self and a tool for finding and shaping reality. How does language contend with the fissure between reality and ideal? Is such dissonance a necessary precursor for writing? And how have the rapidly changing social landscapes in the UK and Korea affected our relationship with the written word?

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Date: Tuesday 8 April, 14.30-15.30
Venue: Whitehall Room, Earls Court


Kim Hyesoon was born in 1955 and made her debut as a poet in 1979. Kim’s poems strive to achieve a complete freedom from form. She has been creating her own world of poetry through her uninhibited experiments with language without being hindered by poetic forms. Kim focuses on the sensual body instead of the abstract, ideal object and has published poems that focus on exploring the female body. Through her continued questioning of the feminine experience and feminine being, she has created a new perception of femininity rooted in a fantastic, fairytale-like imagination. She visualizes this new femininity with the color white in contrast to black, which is employed to portray the patriarchal prejudice and oppression. Kim often uses grotesque, exaggerated images in order to resist the order underlying the mundane life that hides fallacy and violence. Her recent works have often made use of the color red. Some of her major publications are From Another StarMy Father’s ScarecrowThe Negative of Our ImageMy Upanishad, SeoulA Poor Love MachineTo The Calendar Factory ManagerGlass of Red MirrorYour First, andSorrowtoothpaste MirrorcreamCurrently Kim Hyesoon is a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Seoul Institute of the Arts.


Lee Seung-U was born in 1960, studied theology at university and made his literary debut in 1981. Today, Lee is a leading philosophical novelist of Korea. Throughout his career, Lee has maintained an interest in theological and metaphysical questions, and this is reflected in his writing style that meticulously depicts the inner workings of humans. Also, his works deal with questions about morals arising in the quotidian life as well as more universal issues concerning god, salvation, and guilt. In the Beginning, There Was the Temptation, an adaptation of the Book of Genesis, reflects his interest in theological questions. When the translation of The Reverse Side of Life, a work dealing with the concept of guilt, was published in France, Le Mondemade the following comment: “Overly intense at times and exceedingly fluid at others, this moving, weighty novel that emerged from a quiet, serious soul is sure to attract the interest of the true aficionados of literature.” After 2000, moving away from the philosophical themes of his previous works, Lee began publishing novels that inquire into the meaning of the reality and the everydayness, bringing together the sacred and the secular, and the mind and the body. Lee’s works include About Solar EclipseA Portrait of ErysichtonI Will Live Long, and A Help Wanted AdThe Private Lives of of Plants has been translated into French and published under the title La vie rêvée des plantes by Gallimard as a part of Collection Folio. Currently Lee is a professor of creative writing at Chosun University.

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