Baek Seok

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Born 1912 (age 101–102)
Language Korean
Nationality South Korean
Ethnicity Korean
Citizenship South Korean
Baek Seok
Chosŏn'gŭl 백기행
Hancha 白夔行
Revised Romanization Baek Gi-haeng
McCune–Reischauer Paek Kihaeng
Pen name
Chosŏn'gŭl 백석
Hancha 白石
Revised Romanization Baek Seok
McCune–Reischauer Paek Sŏk

Baek Seok (July 1, 1912 - c. January 1995), born Paek Kihaeng, was a Korean poet.[1]


Baek was born in Chŏngju in North Pyongan, and started his journalist career at the Chosun Ilbo in 1934. He attended Osan Middle School, which also taught Kim Sowol and Kim Eok. Later, he attended Aoyoma Academy in Japan where he studied English Literature on a scholarship from the Chosun Ilbo. Baek returned to Korea in 1934 and took a job at Woman magazine, which was also published by the Chosun Ilbo. Baek made his literary debut in 1935 with the publication of his poem " Jeongjuseong fortress " (Jeongjuseong) in the Chosun Ilbo, followed subsequently by poetry, personal essays, and folk stories.[2]


He published his first poem "정주성 (Chŏngju Fortress)" on the 31st August 1935 issue of Chosun Ilbo. On January 20 of the next year, he personally published a collection of poems he had written entitled Deer (사슴, Sasŭm). Even though the poetry book was unique, only 100 copies were printed. Deer contained 33 poems based on the structure of Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach, of which recording by Wanda Landowska had been just released two years previously in Paris. Many of the poems in Deer were new, but seven of them had already been published in magazines or newspapers in slightly different forms. Until 1948, he published about 60 more pieces, but is not believed to have produced another poetry book by himself.

In the Republic of Korea, the publication of his works was strictly prohibited for a while because he was labelled as a North Korean poet and a communist. However, since 1987 when a collection of his works (poems and essays) were first introduced after the Korean War, he has been widely re-evaluated by scholars and critics. He is now regarded as having opened a new face of Korean socialist modernism along with a group of literary writers.

South Koreans long believed that Baek Seok had died on a collective farm in 1963. However, recently it was revealed that he lived until 1996.[3]

Works in Translation[edit]

  • 白石詩集 (백석시선)

Works in Korean (Partial)[edit]

  • The Complete poetic works of Baek Seok (Baek Seok Sijeonjip, 1987)
  • There is a white wall (Huin Barambyeogi Isseo)
  • Song of the meadow bunting (Metsae sori)


  1. ^ "Baek Seok" LTI Korea Datasheet available at LTI Korea Library or online at:
  2. ^ "Baek Seok" LTI Korea Datasheet available at LTI Korea Library or online at:
  3. ^ 시인 백석, 1996년까지 생존

See also[edit]