Cheon Yanghui

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Cheon Yanghui
Native name
BornJanuary 21, 1942
Busan, South Korea
NationalitySouth Korean
CitizenshipSouth Korean
Cheon Yanghui
Revised RomanizationCheon Yanghui
McCune–ReischauerCh'ŏn Yanghŭi

Cheon Yanghui (Korean천양희, born January 21, 1942) is a South Korean poet, best known for her poetry collection Sorghum Field of the Heart (마음의 수수밭, 1994).


Cheon Yanghui was born in Busan on 21 January 1942 as the youngest of seven children. Throughout her childhood she was heavily influenced by her father, an enthusiast of poetry and pansori, and by her grandfather, a lay Buddhist. She often wrote and recited poems, despite being unable to participate in art festivals due to administrative issues at her school. In 1962 Cheon enrolled in Ewha Womans University, graduating with a degree in Korean literature.


Cheon Yanghui's career followed an unusual trajectory in that she began publishing in her 20s, stopped for nearly two decades, then resumed publishing poetry in her 40s, to great critical acclaim. Her literary debut was in 1965, when the prestigious literary magazine Hyundae Munhak published three of her poems - "Once in a Garden" (정원 한때), "Harmony" (화음), and "Morning" (아침) - thanks to a recommendation from Pak Dujin. After Cheon Yanghui married in 1969, she stopped writing and publishing poetry, although she eventually divorced her husband and became the manager of a dressmaker's shop. During this time she also suffered from tuberculosis and a heart condition. In 1983 Cheon returned to poetry by publishing the collection If God Asks Us (신이 우리에게 묻는다면).

While many of Cheon Yanghui's earlier works reflect on an isolated self, more of her later poems - beginning with her most well-known poetry collection Sorghum Field of the Heart (마음의 수수밭, 1994) - focus more on the everyday hardships, sorrows, and frustrations of living a more "typical" life.[1] From her more mature perspective, Cheon was able to write eloquently about what insights she had learned over the past several decades of her life.[2] More recent publications, such as Too Many Mouths (너무 많은 입, 2005), further elaborate on her perspective of what it means to write and publish poetry in modern society.[3]

Cheon Yanghui has received the Sowol Poetry Prize, the Contemporary Literature (Hyundae Munhak) Award, Gong Cho Literature Award, Pak Dujin Literary Award, and Manhae Literature Prize.[4]


Poetry collections[edit]

  • If God Asks Us (신이 우리에게 묻는다면, 1984)
  • Sorghum Field of the Heart (마음의 수수밭, 1994)
  • Old Alley (오래된 골목, 1998)
  • Too Many Mouths (너무 많은 입, 2005)
  • Sometimes I Stand Motionless (나는 가끔 우두커니가 된다, 2011)

Essay collections[edit]

  • Into Jikso Fall (직소포에 들다, 2004)
  • Strolling in the Forest of Poetry (시의 숲을 거닐다, 2006)
  • When in Desperation, We Always Kneel Down (간절함 앞에서는 언제나 무릎을 꿇게 된다, 2013)
  • I Am a Wind That Does Not Howl (나는 울지 않는 바람이다, 2014)
  • Writing Class (작가 수업, 2015)

Works in translation[edit]

  • Poems in Korean Literature Today Vol 4, No 4, Winter, 1999
  • Poems in 詩と創造 Vol 59


Further reading[edit]

  • Yi Sukja. "The Imagery of Roads and Birds in Cheong Yanghui's Poetry." Master's Thesis, Korea University, 2005. 이숙자, 「천양희 시에 나타난 길과 새의 심상 연구」, 고려대 석사논문, 2005.
  • Kang Jiryeong. "The Buddhist Worldview in Cheong Yanghui's Poetry - Focusing on the Relationship Between the Self and the World." Master's Thesis, Graduate School, Inje University, 2005. 강지령, 「천양희 시에 나타난 불교적 세계관-자아와 세계의 관계를 중심으로」, 인제대교육대학원 석사논문, 2005.
  • Bang Minho. "The Long Road to Embracing the World: Review of Cheon Yanghui's Sorghum Field of the Heart." Korea Poem, April 1997. 방민호, 「세상을 품기 위한 긴 길-「마음의 수수밭」 천양희, 서평」, 『현대시』, 1997.4.
  • Kim Seontae. "Radiant Flowers of Life Blooming on Scars: A Discussion on Cheon Yanghui." Korean Language and Literature, June 2002. 김선태, 「상처 위에 핀 눈부신 생명의 꽃-천양희 론」, 『한국언어문학』, 2002.6.
  • Pak Monggu. "Returning from Nihility and Poets on Desire - Cheong Yanghui's Poetry and the Structure of Desire." Eomunyeongu, April 2004. 박몽구, 「허무로부터의 귀환과 욕망의 시학-천양희 시와 욕망의 구조」, 『어문연구』, 2004.4.
  • Jo Haeok. "A Unique Pattern of Life: Review of Too Many Mouths by Cheon Yanghui." Korea Poem, July 2005. 조해옥, 「독특한 생의 무늬-「너무 많은 입」, 천양희 서평」, 『현대시』, 2005.7.
  • "Cheon Yanghui" in Dictionary of Korean Women Writers (2006), quoted in Naver. Encyclopedia. [네이버 지식백과] 천양희 [千良姬] (한국여성문인사전, 2006. 11. 28., 태학사)


  1. ^ "외길" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  2. ^ "천양희" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  3. ^ "너무 많은 입" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  4. ^ "천양희 :: 네이버 인물검색". (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-07-20.

External links[edit]