So Chong-ju(1915 - 2000)
So Chong-ju was born in 1915 in Kochang, North Cholla Province.
After attending high schools in Seoul and Kochang, he studied Buddhism
under Master Pak Han-yong and, in 1935, entered Chungang Buddhist
College, which he left after about a year. In January 1936, he
made his poetic debut and, in November of the same year, edited a group
anthology Shiin Purak (The Poet’s Village). He published his
first collection of poems Hwasajip (The Flower-snake Collection) in
1941, followed by Kwichokto (Nightingale) in 1946; other collections of
poems followed regularly after that. From 1948, he held posts at
a newspaper and in the Ministry of Education; during and after the
Korean War, he taught at colleges and universities. From 1960 to
1979, he was a professor at Tongguk University, of which he was in his
later years a professor emeritus. In later years, he travelled
widely in the world.
It is generally agreed that So Chong-ju was the greatest poet of modern
Korea. He was by nature a conservative and in his old age was often
vilified for the subservient attitude he adopted toward the Japanese,
and then the dictators who ruled Korea after Liberation. Throughout his
poetic career his work underwent notable changes, but he was always
recognized as the most outstanding lyric poet in Korea. He
received numerous awards and translations of his poems have been
published in several languages.
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