Korean Poets






Chiha Kim’s real name is Yongil. Chiha is his pen name. He graduated from the department of Art at Seoul University in 1966. As a voice of the people and bard of the oppressed, Chiha not only holds a significant position in the sphere of literature, but in contemporary Korean modern history as well. He made his voice heard despite the government's efforts to silence him by imprisoning him in the 1970s and 1980s. He has championed the cause of a people oppressed under dictatorial regimes during the latter half of 20th century, relying on his poetic prowess as a weapon for his battles.


Kyu-dong Kim, is one of Korea’s most revered poets. Born in 1925 in Chongson, North Hamgyond Province, in North Korea, Kim’s writing career spans more than 60 years. Kim has written about how he believes that there is a poet in each person. For Kim poetry comes from the heart. In the poem below Kim writes about the tragedy of “two Koreas” and the failure to unify his country.







Suji Kwock Kim won the 2002 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for her first book of poetry, Notes from the Divided Country. Her poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, Poetry, Yale Review, Harvard Review, Threepenny Review, DoubleTake, Ploughshares, Asian-American Poetry: The Next Generation, and other journals and anthologies. “Private Property,” a multimedia play Kim co-wrote, was produced at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was featured on BBC-TV. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown: The Nation/”Discovery” Award, and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, California Arts Council, Washington State Artist Trust, Korea Foundation, and Blakemore Foundation for Asian Studies.







In his lifetime, Suyong Kim published only one volume of poetry, A Game Played in the Moon, in 1959. After his death in a car accident in 1968, further collections of poetry and of his critical essays were published.  Kim’s later works focus on the most ordinary events of daily life. His poems are often prosaic, since he consciously rejected techniques of rhythm. 







Inwhan Pak tried his hand at several occupations, medical school, running a bookshop, and journalism. His poetic career spanned a brief ten-year period. Born in Inche, Kangwon Province of Korea in 1926, Pak died at the age of 30 in 1956. The main subject of his poems was the Korean War. Pak’s poems speak more to the spiritual confusion left by the war than brutality and human suffering.


Chong-Ju So (Midang), also known by his pen name Midang, was born in 1915 in Sonum village in the North Cholla Province of Korea. His first poems were published in the late 1930s and his first collection of poems dates from 1941. He has published many volumes of poetry and has edited a number of anthologies and published works on literary history and criticism. Midang was for many years a professor at the Buddhist University, Dongguk University in Seoul. He was awarded many of Korea's most prestigious literary awards. Translations of selected poems by Chong Ju So have previously been published in France, Spain, Germany, and the United States.