영무  Young-Moo Kim (1944 - 2001)

   At Pulyon-sa, February 1997


(Click here for an English-only version)

Young-Moo Kim was born in 1944 in Paju, near Seoul. After earning his B.A. and M.A. from the English Depart­ment of Seoul National University, he received his Ph.D. from the English Department of SUNY at Stony Brook with a dissertation on George Eliot. He became a Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Seoul National University in 1981. He died on November 26, 2001.

His first published article on Korean poetry, 이육사론 (창작과 비평, 1975 여름호) signified his recognition as a literary critic. He published a number of translations from English: 침묵 속에 떠오르는 소리 (1977),블레이크 시선집 (1987, a volume of translations of poems by William Blake), 예수, 낯선분 (1989), 술례자 한느님 (1991, by Brother John of Taize) and more.

He published a volume of personal essays 제비꽃에 너를 보며 (1988) and a volume of literary criticism 시의 언어와 삶의 언어 (1990), which received the prize for criticism in the 1991 Republic of Korea Literary Awards.

He and Brother Anthony together translated The Sound of my Waves and Beyond Self by Ko Un, Back to Heaven by Ch'on Sang-Pyong, Faint Shadows of Love by Kim Kwang-kyu, and Farmers’ Dance by Shin Kyong-Nim. Their volume of Kim Kwang-Kyu won the Translation Prize in the 1991 Republic of Korea Literary Awards, and the Ch'on Sang-Pyong volume was awarded the 1996 Korean PEN Translation Prize.

In 1991, during a 2-year stay as visiting professor in Toronto (Canda), he began to publish poems in a local Korean-language newspaper. In 1992, he and five others published in Toronto a collection of their poems: 얼음비 다음 . He first published poems in Korea in 1993 and his first volume, 색동 단풍숲을 노래하라, was published in May 1993. A second volume, 산은 새소리마저 쌓아 두지 않는구나, was published while he was still in hospital recovering from an operation for lung cancer in August 1998. He and his family spent a year in Perth, Australia in 1999-2000 and his third volume, 가상현실, including poems inspired by his experience of sickness and others about Australia, was published in April 2001. It earned him the 3rd Paeksok Literary Award, which his widow received in his place, four days after his death.

In the acceptance speech he prepared for the Paeksok award ceremony, he described how he had begun to find poems arising in him after seeing, in the church of a monastery outside Toronto, a crucifix on which was hung an image, not of the human body of Jesus but of the green globe of the natural creation, crowned with thorns and bleeding. This image, combining his own ecological concerns and his Catholic faith, deeply impressed him and the sight of it served as a moment of epiphany.

From early in 2001, he was bedridden, unable to walk thanks to the spreading cancer. With his wife’s devoted care, he was able to remain at home, writing, translating, and meeting friends, until the pain became too intolerable. He was taken to hospital on Tuesday, November 20 and died at 7:30pm on Monday, November 26, 2001. Three days before he died, he wrote a final poem:

 

무지개
 

                        김영무
 

이 땅에 시인 하나

풀꽃으로 피어나

바람결에 놀다 갔다.

 

풀무치 새 울음소리 좋아하고

이웃 피붙이 같은 버들치

힘찬 지느러미 짓

더욱 좋아했다.

 

찬 이슬 색동보석 맺치는

풀섶세상

-- 참 다정도 하다.

 

2001.11.23평촌

Rainbow

Kim Young-Moo

 

In this land one poet

blossomed -- a wild flower, 

played in the wind, then went away.

 

He enjoyed the songs of crickets and birds,

enjoyed even more

the sturdy fin-strokes

of minnows, neighborly, kin-like.

 

The world of wild greenery

where cool drops of dew hang, many-hued jewels 

-- its so full of tenderness.

Written in Pyongchon

November 23, 2001

Translated by Brother Anthony

 


Here's a more official picture, but it makes him look too serious!


A Poet Dies Yet Lives: Young‑Moo Kim

 

(Prepared for the Korea Times)

   On Friday, November 30, many literary figures gathered high up in the Seoul Press Center for the annual ceremony at which the Manhae Prize for Literature, the Paeksok Prize and other literary awards are made, under the auspices of the literary review Changjak gwa pipyong. This year the room was more crowded than usual, and the atmosphere was perhaps slightly different becuase almost everyone knew that the recipient of the Paeksok Prize, Kim Young-Moo, had died only a few days before. Many of his friends and colleagues were glad to have this more festive occasion to remember him after the gravity of his funeral Mass two days before. For myself, grieving to have lost such a dear friend and co-translator, it was an especially important moment of commemoration and celebration.

Young‑Moo Kim was born in 1944 in Paju, near Seoul. After earning his B.A. and M.A. from the English Depart­ment of Seoul National University, he received his Ph.D. from the English Department of SUNY at Stony Brook with a dissertation on George Eliot. He became a Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Seoul National University in 1981. He died on November 26, 2001.

His first article on Korean poetry, dedicated to the poet Yi Yuksa, published in 1975, signified his recognition as a literary critic. He published a number of translations from English: including a volume of translations of poems by William Blake, and several works on religious themes. He was a devout Catholic.

He published a volume of personal essays in 1988 and a volume of literary criticism on The Language of Poetry and the Language of Life in 1990, which received the prize for criticism in the 1991 Republic of Korea Literary Awards.

He and I together translated The Sound of my Waves and Beyond Self by Ko Un, Back to Heaven by Ch'on Sang‑Pyong, Faint Shadows of Love by Kim Kwang‑kyu, and Farmers Dance by Shin Kyong‑Nim. There are still three more volumes of works by Ko Un waiting to be published under our combined names. The volume of Kim Kwang‑Kyu won the Trans­lation Prize in the 1991 Republic of Korea Literary Awards, and the Ch'on Sang‑Pyong volume was awarded the 1996 Korean PEN Translation Prize. He and I were the judges in the Korea Times Translation Awards for several years.

In 1991, during a 2-year stay as visiting professor in Toronto (Canda), he began to publish poems in a local Korean-language newspaper. In 1992, he and five others published in Toronto a collection of their poems. He published a number of poems in Korea early in 1993 and his first volume was published in May 1993. A second volume was published while he was still in hospital recovering from an operation for lung cancer in August 1998. He and his family spent a year in Perth, Australia in 1999-2000 and his third volume, including poems inspired by his experience of sickness and others about Australia, was published in April 2001. It earned him the 3rd Paeksok Literary Award, which his widow received in his place, four days after his death, on November 30.

In the acceptance speech he had prepared for the Paeksok award ceremony, he described how he had begun to find poems arising in him after seeing, in the church of a monastery outside Toronto, a crucifix on which was hung an image, not of the human body of Jesus but of the green globe of the natural creation, crowned with thorns and bleeding. This image, combining his own ecological concerns and his Catholic faith, deeply impressed him and the sight of it served as a moment of epiphany.

From early in 2001, he was bedridden by the spreading cancer. Thanks to his wifes devoted care, he was able to remain at home, writing, translating, and meeting friends, until the pain became too intolerable. He was taken to hospital on November 20 and died at 7:30pm on November 26, 2001. Three days before he died, he wrote a final poem. It is too soon for me to write more about him. We who knew and loved him are agreed that in this poem he gave us the very best possible memorial.

 

 

 

Rainbow

 

Kim Young-Moo

 

In this land one poet

blossomed a wild flower,

played in the wind, then went away.

 

He enjoyed the songs of crickets and birds,

enjoyed even more

the sturdy fin-strokes

of minnows, neighborly, kin-like.

 

The world of wild greenery

where cool drops of dew hang, many-hued jewels

its so full of tenderness.

 

 

Written in Pyongchon

November 23, 2001

 

Translated by Brother Anthony