Celebrating 100 Years of Modern Korean Literature

Conference/Symposium | September 26 | 5-7 p.m. | Berkeley City Club, Drawing Room

 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

 Kyung-Ran Jo, author

 Youngmin Kwon, UC Berkeley; Bruce Fulton, University of British Columbia

 Center for Korean Studies (CKS), Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco

The publication of Yi Kwang-su’s novel Mujŏng (The Heartless) in 1917 is often cited as the starting point of modern Korean literature. Please join us for a discussion of the fruits of a century of modern Korean literature dating from the appearance of that landmark novel. Presentations will be made from the point of view of a literary scholar and critic, Professor Youngmin Kwon; a long-time translator (with Ju-Chan Fulton) of modern Korean fiction, Professor Bruce Fulton; and a prize-winning fiction writer, Kyung-Ran Jo.


Youngmin Kwon is currently Adjunct Professor of Korean Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UC Berkeley. He is an Emeritus Professor at Seoul National University and Chair Professor of Korean Literature at Dankook University. He has published numerous works on modern Korean literature, including History of Modern Korean Literature (in Korean, 2002) and The Encyclopedia of Modern Korean Literature (in Korean, 2004). He is co-editor with Bruce Fulton of Modern Korean Fiction (Columbia University Press, 2005), and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Culture and Art Critics Award of Seoul (1988), Modern Korean Literary Critics Award (1990), Manhae Academic Prize (2006), Academic Research Award of Seoul National University (2009), and Sejong Cultural Award (2017).

Bruce Fulton is the inaugural holder of the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia. He is the co-translator, with Ju-Chan Fulton, of numerous works of modern Korean fiction; co-editor with Youngmin Kwon of Modern Korean Fiction (Columbia University Press, 2005); editor of the Korea section of the Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature (2003); and general editor of the Modern Korean Fiction series published by the University of Hawai’i Press. He is the co-recipient of several translation awards and grants, including the first National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship for a Korean literary work, and the first residency awarded by the Banff International Literary Translation Centre for the translation of a work from any Asian language. He is the translator with Ju-Chan Fulton of Cho Chongnae’s novel Chonggul malli, published in English as The Human Jungle (Chin Music Press, 2016).

Kyung-Ran Jo was born in 1969 in Seoul, where she went on to study creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Jo has lived in Bongcheon-dong for nearly 20 years in a small rooftop apartment that her father built. She made her literary debut in 1996 with the short story “French Optical,” which won the Dong-a Ilbo Prize.

Jo’s work is famous for taking trivial, mundane, and everyday occurrences and delicately describing them in subtle emotional tones. Jo tends to dwell on the impressions things make with precision and sensitivity, describing their effect on the inner world of the protagonist. She often describes her characters minimally or presents them like objects lacking personality, thereby accentuating human alienation and the difficulty of communication in the modern world.

Her work has won the Munhakdongne New Writer Award, Today’s Young Artist Award, Contemporary Literature Award, and Dong-in Literary Award and has been translated into French, German, Hebrew, and English.

This event is sponsored by the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco for San Francisco Korea Week.

 cksassist@berkeley.edu, 510-643-9787