[KS] Kim Chun-Su

Brother Anthony ansonjae at ccs.sogang.ac.kr
Sun Nov 28 22:59:30 EST 2004

The senior Korean poet Kim Chun-Su died this morning (Monday Nov 29). He had been in a coma for several
months. He was born in 1922. His first volume of poems, The Cloud and the Rose, was published in 1948,
followed by Swamp in 1950. In all, he published a dozen volumes of poetry, and also several studies of
poetry as well as informal essays. He received several awards, such as the Asian Free Literature Award
(1959) and the South Kyongsang Cultural Award(1966). He was elected a member of the Korean Academy of Arts
in 1981.   
As a poet, Kim Chun-Su was a purist and experimentalist. From the early 1970s, he repeatedly declared that
he did not believe in ideas, let alone ideologies, nor in history. He was most influenced by Rilke in the
early phase of his career, but in later years he advocated what he called 'the poetry of no meaning.' The
60s was a transition period between his early phase and later years. The Ballad Tune and Other Poems
(1969), his fifth volume of poetry, contained poems combining the rhythms of Korean folk ballads with a
technique of word-play as an attempt to critique civilization. 'The poetry of no meaning,' which
characterized his later years, began in the early 70s, in the second part of Fragments on Ch'oyong,
written, on and off, over a quarter of a century from the late 60s and published in its entirety in
October, 1991. Between The Ballad Tune and Other Poems and Fragments on Ch'oyong, Kim Chun-Su wrote three
more volumes of poetry, of which Latin Sketches (1988) evoked his European trips. One of his last volumes,
The Woods that Sleep Standing (1993), is a collection of poems in prose which he described as 'a chemical
combination of realism and anti-realism.' 

(Text adapted with permission from the Introduction to Kim Jong-Gil's translations published by Cornell EAS
in 1998 as 'The Snow Falling on Chagall's Village'.)  

Brother Anthony
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea


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