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Articles on Korean SF in _list Magazine

This entry is part 62 of 70 in the series SF in South Korea

For those interested in South Korean SF, but unable to read it themselves (like me) you will be interested in the little treasure trove of articles I’ve just run across on the subject. They were published as part of the Summer 2013 issue of the magazine _List, which appears to be published by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.

There are four articles in all:

Of course, there’s plenty of context that’s missing here, but that’s not surprising: LTI Korea’s agenda/mandate is to promote Korean literature to the world, and it doesn’t serve that end to discuss the contemporary translation scene much, for example.

Specifically, I mean, the ongoing canon-building going within Korean SF in terms of foreign works translated to Korean. For example, Kim Boyoung is discussed here primarily as an author, which is fine, as she deserves attention for her own unique creative works. However, she is not only an author, but also a translator, and like a number of other SF translators, she has played an important role in the development of Korean SF not only by direct influence through her own work, but also through the choices she has made as a translator.

These articles present this part of SF mainly as historical and foundational, rather than as the ongoing, expanding process it really is right now. As a result, plenty of the figures (especially translators, but also publishers) who play a crucial role in the Korean SF scene don’t get mentioned, because they’re working in the area of inbound literary globalization. To understand the development of SF in any society, one must acknowledge the interplay between foreign influences and local innovations, and how it is usually ongoing and constant, especially outside the English-speaking world. Not to privilege the foreign stuff, but to understand the transmission of a literary genre from one culture to another, and how that process continues and mutates over time.

Still, these four articles open a lot of doors and shed a lot of light. They’re definitely worth a look!

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