|Revised Romanization||Go Eun|
|Revised Romanization||Go Eun-tae|
Ko Un (born on 1 August or 11 April 1933) is a South Korean poet. His works have been translated and published in more than 15 countries and he has been imprisoned many times. Ko is routinely mentioned as one of the frontrunners for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and Korean reporters have camped outside his house ahead of the annual recipient announcement.
The Korean War emotionally and physically traumatized Ko and caused the death of many of his relatives and friends. Ko's hearing suffered from acid that he poured into his ears during an acute crisis in this time and it was further harmed by a police beating in 1979. In 1952, before the war had ended, Ko became a Buddhist monk. After a decade of monastic life, he chose to return to the active, secular world in 1962 to become a devoted poet. From 1963 to 1966 he lived on Jejudo, where he set up a charity school, and then moved back to Seoul. His life was not calm in the outer world, and he wound up attempting suicide (a second time) in 1970.
Around the time the South Korean government attempted to curb democracy by putting forward the Yusin Constitution in late 1972, Ko became very active in the democracy movement and led efforts to improve the political situation in South Korea, while still writing prolifically and being sent to prison four times (1974, 1979, 1980 and 1989). In May 1980, during the coup d'etat led by Chun Doo-hwan, Ko was accused of treason and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. He was released in August 1982 as part of a general pardon.
After his release, his life became calmer; however, he startled his large following by revising many of his previously published poems. Ko married Sang-Wha Lee on May 5, 1983, and moved to Anseong, Gyeonggi-do, where he still lives. He resumed writing and began to travel, his many visits providing fabric for the tapestry of his poems. Since 2007, he is a visiting scholar in Seoul National University, and teaches poetics and literature.
Ko began publishing in 1958. He has published approximately 135 volumes, including many volumes of poetry, several works of fiction (especially Buddhist fiction), autobiography, drama, essays, translations from classical Chinese, travel books, etc.
Portions of his work have been translated into English, often by Brother Anthony of Taize - The Sound of My Waves (Selected Poems 1960-1990, Cornell EAS, 1991); "Morning Dew" (Selected Poems, Sidney: Paper Bark Press, Australia, 1996); Beyond Self (Parallax Press, 1996, now out of print, republished by Parallax in 2008 as "108 Zen Poems"); Little Pilgrim (Parallax Press, 2005, a novel); Ten Thousand Lives with an introduction by Robert Hass (Green Integer, 2005); The Three Way Tavern (Selected Poems, UC Press, 2006)); Flowers of a Moment, 185 brief poems (BOA Editions, 2006); Abiding Places, Korea North & South(Tupelo, 2006); Songs for Tomorrow: A Collection of Poems 1961-2001 (Green Integer, 2009); Himalaya Poems (Green Integer, 2010) - as well as into Spanish (4-5 volumes) Italian, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Czech, Bulgarian, Swedish and Danish. The complete list is available on Ko Un's personal homepage.
- Korean Literature Prize (1974, 1987)
- Manhae Literary Prize (1989)
- Joongang Literary Prize (1991)
- Daesan Literary Prize (1994)
- Bjørnson Prize Order for Literature(2005)
- Cikada Prize (Swedish literary prize for East Asian poets) (2006)
- Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award (2008)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ko Un.|
- Korean literature
- Korean poetry
- List of Korean language poets
- Literature Translation Institute of Korea
- "Stockholm disappoints Korea again: South Korean poet Ko Un misses out on Nobel literature prize". The Korea Herald. 7 October 2010.
- "Hopes high for Ko Un’s chance for Nobel prize". The Korea Herald. 7 October 2010. "The local media and literary circles are expressing hope again about the possibility that Korean poet Ko Un might receive..."
- Moon So-young and Lee Sun-min "Noble Hopes Dashed for Ko Un," JoongAng Daily October 9, 2010.
- 1958년 『현대문학』에 <봄밤의 말씀>, <눈길>, <천은사운> 등이 추천되어 등단.
- 한국문학작가상 수상(1975)
- 제3회 만해 문학상 수상(1989)
- 중앙문화대상 예술상 수상(1991)
All of the following links lead to English language pages.
- Gimm-Young Publishers' extensive Ko Un website (requires Flash)
-   Numerous links woven by his English-language co-translator Brother Anthony ]
- The iconic news photograph (Ko Un is in between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il) at unification summit)
- Ko Un's place in modern Korean poetry by Choi Won-shik
- Short overview of Ko and his style
- Writers from the Other Asia by John Feffer, from The Nation
- Brief introduction from a publisher
- Pointing Beyond Words, a biographical survey, by Gary Gach, from BuddhaDharma
- Microreview of Ten Thousand Lives (Maninbo) by Katie Peterson, from Boston Review
- Several poems from Ten Thousand Lives on Sogang University website
- Three more poems from Ten Thousand Lives plus a short bio, at Words Without Borders
- Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition tribute, including audio and video clips