The Snow Path by Ko Un

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Hwang Moon-sung

Photography by Hwang Moon-sung

The Snow Path by Ko Un (1933- )

Now I am gazing
at the snow path that covers up what has passed.
After wandering through the whole winter,
I am gazing at this foreign territory.
The scene of snow
falls in my heart for the first time.
The world is at the edge of meditation,
a world covered with exuberant peace
no country that I have traveled has ever seen.
I am gazing at the invisible movements of all things.
What is the sky where the snow is falling?
Listening closely, through the falling snow,
I hear the grand earth’s confession.
I can hear for the first time.
My heart is the snow path outside,
and darkness within.
After wandering though this world of winter,
I have come now to guard the great quiet,
and, in front of the piling snow,
my heart is darkness.

눈길/고은

이제 바라보노라.
지난 것이 다 덮여 있는 눈길을.
온 겨울을 떠돌고 와
여기 있는 낯선 지역을 바라보노라.
나의 마음속에 처음으로
눈 내리는 풍경.
세상은 지금 묵념의 가장자리
지나온 어느 나라에도 없었던
설레이는 평화로서 덮이노라.
바라보노라. 온갖 것의
보이지 않는 움직임을.
눈 내리는 하늘은 무엇인가.
내리는 눈 사이로
귀 귀울여 들리나니 대지의 고백.
나는 처음으로 귀를 가졌노라.
나의 마음은 밖에서는 눈길
안에서는 어둠이노라.
온 겨울의 누리를 떠돌다가
이제 와 위대한 적막을 지킴으로써
쌓이는 눈더미 앞에
나의 마음은 어둠이노라.

출전: “현대문학” (1958)

kounphotoKo Un was born in Kunsan, Jeollabuk-do in 1933. As a recipient of numerous literary awards, Ko Un is one of the most famous contemporary poets in Korea. Since his debut in Hyondae Munhak in 1958, he has since produced over 120 literary works, including novels and critical writings. In 2010 he completed Maninbo, a now 30-volume poetry collection that had been published in installments over a period of twenty three years.

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Park Gwan-hyun by Ko Un

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

Painted by Ha Sung-hub

Park Gwan-hyun by Ko Un

He himself lamented that his death came late.
But his death did come
when he had to die.
Three years after the Gwangju Uprising
he died in a prison,
not on Kunnam-ro Street,
Park Gwan-hyun, a son of Mudeung Mountain.
He ran
when the airborne martial troops
were crisscrossing Gwangju.
He hid himself
waiting for the time to fight,
and he ran again,
Park Gwan-hyun, President of the Student Government Council
at Chonnam National University.

He crossed to Dolsan in Yeosu
after the martial troops occupied Gwangju,
slaying their way into the city.
He missed the battle of Gwangju,
and went over to Amtaedo Island and Chorando Island in Mokpo.
And then in June that year
he ran to Seoul.
Park Gwan-hyun, a wanted man,
ran again in Seoul
just before his arrest.
He worked at a small factory
under the name of Park Gun-wook;
he hid himself there for one year and ten months
but was finally arrested.
In prison,
he fought and fought,
eating rice mixed with sunflower seeds,
but he died in the prison,
Park Gwan-hyun, thirty years old.

Park Gwan-hyun who shouted like a lion
on the night of May 10, 1980,
on the water fountain in front of Provincial Hall,
to tens of thousands citizens and students,
“My comrades, the reason we are having this torch parade
Is to make democracy bloom in this land
And to achieve national reunification.”
Even his body was taken away,
and there was no funeral for him.
He was buried in the red-clay mountain
Youngkwang, in his hometown.
Why did you go
on a moonlit night?
A moonlit night that is not ours yet,
a dawn that is not ours yet–
why did you go for good
on a moonlit dawn?

But Park Gwan-hyun,
whenever people are silent
and Mudeung Mountain shouts,
Park Gwan-hun rises
and comes to Kunnam-ro Street.
He comes to the stormy Kunnam-ro Street,
surely.

박관현/ 고은

그 자신은 그의 죽음을 늦었다고 슬퍼했다
그러나 그의 죽음은
그가 죽어야 할 때 죽은 것이다
그는 광주항쟁 3년이 지나
금남로 거리가 아니라
감옥에서 죽어나온 것이다
무등의 아들 박관현
그는 튀었다
계엄군 공수부대가
광주를 누비고 있는데
그는 숨어서
싸움의 때를 노리다가 또 튀었다
전남대총학생회장 박관현

그는 여수 돌산으로 건너갔다
계엄군이 학살로
광주를 점령한 뒤
그는 광주의 싸움을 놓쳐버리고
목포 암태도 초란도를 건너갔다가
그해 6월
서울로 튀었다
현상수배 주요인물 박관현
서울에서 체포 직전에
또 튀었다
영세공장 노동자로 일했다
이름은 박건욱
1년 10개월 동안 숨었다가
끝내 그는 체포되었다
감옥에서
나팔꽃씨 넣은 밥 먹으며
싸우고 싸우다가
감옥에서 죽어나온 것이다
나이 서른살 박관현

1980년 5월 10일 밥 도청앞 분수대에서
몇만 시민과 학도 앞에서
우리가 횃불대행진을 하는 것은
이 땅에 민주주의의 꽃을 피게 하고
민족통일을 이룩하자는 것입니다
여러분
하고 사자처럼 부르짖던 박관현
그의 주검조차 빼앗겨
장례식도 못 치르고
고향땅 영광 황토산에 묻혀버렸다
어쩌자고 님은
달밤에 가시었나
아직은 우리의 밤이 아닌 달밤
아직은 우리의 새벽이 아닌 새벽
어쩌자고 님은 달밤에
새벽에 영 가시었나

그러나 박관현
무등 있어
사람이 침묵하고
무등이 소리칠 때마다
박관현은 일어나
금남로에 온다
바람치는 금남로에 온다

kounphotoKo Un was born in Kunsan, Jeollabuk-do in 1933. As a recipient of numerous literary awards, Ko Un is one of the most famous contemporary poets in Korea. Since his debut in Hyondae Munhak in 1958, he has since produced over 120 literary works, including novels and critical writings. In 2010 he completed Maninbo, a now 30-volume poetry collection that had been published in installments over a period of twenty three years.

If May Passes by Forgotten by Ko Un

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid
Narrated by Melanie Steyn

If May Passes by Forgotten by Ko Un

What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
One midnight in May martial law descended upon us.
We were beaten up like dogs and dragged in.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
One day in May we rose up,
clenching a thousand-year-old anger, clutching empty hands, we rose up.
We ran to the fresh green street, our street,
to Kumnam-no, the street of liberation, to rise up.
We drove away the pitch dark night,
firing our hearts with democracy, people, and nation
against the division of treason
against the treason of forty years of fascism,
against the tank of martial law we rose.
Sing! Fight! Bury these ghastly bodies!
On this fresh green street, our street,
soon we fell down from bullets,
shedding blood.
We fell, spilling red blood–
collapsed corpses, we were dragged on and on,
covered by gray dust, covered by ash,
we were taken somewhere like dead dogs,
carried on the military trucks that rushed by.
Oh, Mangwol Cemetery is not the only place, the only place.
Seven hundred, eight hundred, or two thousand patriots
are still buried in unknown territory.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
One day in May we fought to the end,
at Province Hall, in deserted back alleys,
we fought, stepping on the bloodstains of our dead comrades.
We fought proudly in the name of the Civilian Army of the Gwangju Uprising,
against foreign forces,
against compradors,
against the legacies of the Yushin dictatorial reform,
defending the lives of our land who could not be desecrated,
we died with punctured chests.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
At dusk, in the street outside Province Hall, a high school student tore his clothes
and his cry echoed through the streets:
“my sister was murdered brutally and ferociously–
give me a gun. I can fight.”
Soon after, he too, was shot and killed.
“Your beautiful breasts chopped like tofu.”
Oh, young girls and pregnant women
were stabbed to death.
In the streets, back alleys, and dead ends
young men were killed and dragged away.
One day in May, on the street of democracy, people, and nation,
suddenly the savages descended:
the 20th Division of Yangpyong,
the Special Troop,
the 31st Division.
The martial law troops of the 7th Airborne, the 3rd Airborne, and the 11th Airborne broke in, randomly shooting M16 rifles,
crushing with their gun handles,
stabbing again and again with their fixed bayonets;
reeking of liquor, they shot to death even those who surrendered.
Oh, the screams of this Inferno ran over the streets, like waves.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
Afterwards, the silence of the tremendous terror, like the steel grave,
extended over the living and the dead.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
From death we had to start all over again.
Those who survived, even those who forgot their grief had to return
and start all over again in the street of death.
We have died and have no words.
We have lived and have no words.
We were jailed, gagged, without even the sky to look towards,
gnashing our teeth,
every heart filled with a thousand years of bitter resentment,
swallowing this time of shame.
Down the violated street military boots of the 5th Republic marched heavily.
After that May, we carried death on our backs.
One snowy day,
we first came out to Kumnam street and Chungjang street,
and shook one another’s hands once again:
“You are alive.” “You are, too.”
Then we ran to Mangwol cemetery and wept.
Since then we came together every year and rose up.
Over and over we identified the enemies hiding on the dark side,
blowing our hot breath and defrosting the windows.
The star spangled banner flies high over this land–
this land swarms with Japs.
Now Gwangju is not Gwangju—Gwangju is not only a place.
It is the heart of the history of this land.
So many people rose up in every street–
every town, people met whispering:
lives of workers have become lumps of coal,
cows are worth nothing, and farmers have swallowed pesticides and perished.
A taxi driver burned himself up.
Families have been asphyxiated by coal fumes.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
College students set themselves on fire, falling like flowers,
and tens of others are ready to follow.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
Billions of Won were spent on teargas, apple bombs, and other god-damn bombs,
which blew up in our eyes and made us blind,
or shocked our chests and we collapsed.
Those who threw a stone were dragged out and beaten up till they vomited blood.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
The struggle for justice has not ended in the factories or the schools.
Even in prisons the struggle goes on for victory.
But in the cities of deception the flag of blood-ties waves strong,
Japan’s ruling party gleefully enters in and out,
like eunuchs who visit their in-laws.
Even the trash of the Yushin dictatorship has returned to take its part.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
To break these foreign forces, these compradors, this betrayal,
to sweep up this division and this fascism,
to achieve our independence,
our equality, and our reunification,
to dance a dance of history,
let our bodies terribly rot,
buried deep in this history.
We will fight, dead.
We will fight, feverishly living.
So we live, out of breath.
Oh, May!
Oh, May!
Oh, May of the splendid, green, dazzling days!
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
On a day dense with teargas
we shed tears and cough.
The cuckoo sings; at night it sings mournfully.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
Oh, dead fighters, friends,
a hundred years of struggle is not over yet.
We have to fight a hundred years more, friends.
We must fight on from generation to generation.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
No matter what, we will always unite again.
The scattered will meet again.
Blood-boiling May,
the month of struggle that shakes the whole body,
May, you are us.
United, we move on, breaking the waves of the ocean.
Although May has passed,
May is always alive in us.
We ourselves are May.
We are May.
We are May.
Shouts bursting from seven million of our people!
The masses of joy and embracing that will burst
from every corner of this land on that morning!
Oh, that’s our May. Liberation achieved from death.
that day, come quick!

Ko Un was born in Kunsan, Jeollabuk-do in 1933. As a recipient of numerous literary awards, Ko Un is one of the most famous contemporary poets in Korea. Since his debut in Hyondae Munhak in 1958, he has since produced over 120 literary works, including novels and critical writings. In 2010 he completed Maninbo, a now 30-volume poetry collection that had been published in installments over a period of twenty three years.