Translation of Ko Un's poetry from Korean into Slovene

  • Eva VUČKOVIČ Korea University
  • Byoung Yoong KANG
Keywords: poetry of Ko Un, Korean poetry, translation problems


Pišem v zrak is a collection of poems by the Korean poet Ko Un, that was translated into Slovenian in August of 2016. The collection features a selection of poems written in the last 15 years. Ko Un's poetry appears simple, however, there are often deeper messages hidden within the verses. His subjects are diverse and embrace such themes as nature, Buddhism, as well as allusions to the political situation of the modern Korean society, and criticism of the modern man. From the structure of his poems, it seems that Ko Un does not want to use any formalism in his work. He uses free verse and sometimes even breaks the verse into two lines, just to defy the set norms of poetry. Complex metaphors, intertwining of the traditional and modern language, and wordplay take precedence over the form. To list all the problems that occurred in the process of translating would be an impossible undertaking, since it would have to include an in-depth analysis of each separate poem. Therefore, this article addresses only the major and most obvious problems we have encountered when translating poetry from Korean into Slovenian. The majority of problems arose due to the difference in the structure of both languages and many due to the vocabulary and cultural differences. The  essential dilemma was how much freedom we have as translators, and to what extent we are allowed to alter a poem  without ignoring the gist the author intends to convey to readers.


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How to Cite
VUČKOVIČ, E., & KANG, B. Y. (2017). Translation of Ko Un’s poetry from Korean into Slovene. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 7(2), 37-49.
Research Articles