Pyongyang Review of Books:
The Winter Republic and
a Winter Night Elegy

Southern Korean Literature of Resistance and a Poem by Hwang Jin I

Literature in 'The Winter Republic'

Some time ago Andrew J. Nathan at Foreign Affairs wrote a short review of Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee's Korea compiled by Ryu Yongju (University of Hawaii Press, 2015) . Part of Nathan's review is worth reproducing here:

'The Winter Republic' was a label given by a dissident poet to the dictatorial rule of the South Korean leader Park Chung-hee, who led the country from 1962 until 1979; the regime imprisoned and tortured the poet for his impudence. This beautifully written book analyzes the work of four other authors whose fiction and poetry exposed political oppression and social injustice during that time...Park’s successor, Chun Doo-hwan, would later say that Park had 'lost his fight against books.'

This one is on our to-read list as more than a few modern republics seem to be settling in for a long and uncomfortable winter.

Those Cold, Winter Nights

On this last day of winter, we are reminded of a poem by Hwang Jin I of Kaesong (translation from McCann, 1975).

I will break the back / Of this long, midwinter night

Folding it double / Cold beneath my spring quilt

That I may draw out / the night, should my love return.

Hwang Jin I was a 16th century kisaeng, a woman entertainer, of the Ri (Choson) Dynasty. She is considered one of the 'Three Treasures of Kaesong' along with her contemporary poet So Gyong Dok and Pakyon Waterfall.

Also, Happy World Poetry Day (Tuesday, March 21)!

The Pyongyang Review of Books (PYRB) is a modest literary review of books from the DPRK and Korea related topics. Regular visitors and browsers of Pyongyang’s bookstores. Follow us on Instagram: pyongyangreviewofbooks.The views expressed in PYRB do not necessarily reflect those of the Koryo Tours.

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