Kim Hoon

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim.
Kim Hoon
Born May 5th, 1948
South Korea
Occupation writer, journalist, critic
Genre novels, short-stories
Kim Hoon
Hangul 김훈
Revised Romanization Gim Hun
McCune–Reischauer Kim Hun

Kim Hoon is a South Korean novelist, journalist and critic.[1]


Kim was born on May 5, 1948 in Seoul, Korea. After graduating from Whimoon High School, Kim Hoon entered Korea University in 1966. He joined Hankook Ilbo as a journalist in 1973.[2] He made his debut as a novelist at the age of forty-seven with the publication of Memories of Earthenware with Comb Teeth Pattern. His second novel Song of Sword, which was awarded the prestigious Dong-in Literature Prize, was a literary sensation and elevated him into one of the most recognized names in Korean literature. Two years later in 2003, Kim’s reputation as a writer of exceptional talent was affirmed when his first published short-story “Cremation” was chosen as the winner of Lee Sang Literature Prize. Kim worked as a journalist for 20 years before becoming a writer and is well known for refusing to use anything but a pencil when he writes.[3] He is also an avid bicyclist who does not have a driver’s license and has written a series of essays on his bicycle travels across the south of the Korean peninsula..[4]


Though he became a fiction writer at a relatively late age, Kim writes with flair and the dexterity of a seasoned novelist. Grounded in his journalistic background, his writing style is polished and unsentimental, and Kim crafts his sentences masterfully to infuse lyrical rhythm to his work without sacrificing clarity and poise. His job as a journalist, which required him to rush to the scenes of disaster, has also given him an insight into the psychology of people in extreme circumstances. Kim’s ability to discern pertinent details and moments of significance in the chaos of life-or-death situations, which he perfected in his line of work as a reporter, can be observed in his first novel, Memories of Earthenware with Comb Teeth Pattern. Written in form of a detective story involving a mysterious death of a firefighter, the novel presents a palpably real portrait of the battle with raging fire, and investigates the intensity of human emotions in dire circumstances with acuity, subtlety and insight. In his second novel Song of Sword, Kim gives us a powerful picture of General Lee Sun-sin, not as a mere war-hero, but as an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances and struggling with complexity of his own interior landscape. His most recent novel Song of Strings focuses on the life of the renowned musician Ureug who lived more than fifteen hundred years ago during the Shilla period.[5]

Namhan sanseong (hangul: 남한산성) is his latest work, and has sold almost 1 million copies in South Korea.[citation needed] It is based on the incident of Byeongjahoran, in which during the Second Manchu invasion of Korea in 1636, when King Injo of Joseon Dynasty took refuge in the Namhan Mountain Fortress in Gyeonggi-do, in an ill-fated attempt to defy the rule of the Manchu Qing Empire Hong Taiji, following the First Manchu invasion of Korea in 1627.[6]

In 2009 a musical also titled, Namhansanseong was based on the novel, but focuses on the lives of common people and their spirit of survival during harsh situations. It stars Yesung of boy band Super Junior as villain "Jung Myung-soo", a servant-turned-interpreter. It was shown from 14 to 31 October at Seongnam Arts Center Opera House.[7]

In 2011 Kim’s work “Schwertgesang”translated by Heidi Kang and Ahn So-hyun, won the Daesan Award for Translated Literature.[8]

Works in Translation[edit]

Language; German
Title: Schwertgesang
Original title: 칼의 노래
Genre: Modern/ Fiction
Publisher: Edition Delta
Translated by: Heidi Kang

Language: French
Title: Le Chant Du Sabre
Original title: 칼의 노래
Genre: Modern/ Fiction
Publisher: Gallimard
Translated by : Yang Young-Nan , François Théron

Language: English
Title: From Powder to Powder
Genre: Modern/ Fiction
In: Land of Exile


  • Dong-in Prize 2001, for his novel, The Song of the Sword
  • Saturation coverage prize from 18th Seoul Journalist Club Award, 2002
  • 2004 Yi Sang Literary Award, 〈화장〉 "Cremation" (Called "From Powder to Powder" in translation)
  • The 4th Hwang Sunwon Prize, 2005, for The menopause of my older sister [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LTI Korea Author Database:
  2. ^ (Korean) An interview with Kim Hoon and introduce his works
  3. ^ A Writer Who Writes with His Body – LIST Magazine, Volume 2, 2008:
  4. ^ A Writer Who Writes with His Body – LIST Magazine, Volume 2, 2008:
  5. ^ LTI Korea Author Database:
  6. ^ Koh Young-aah "Musicals hope for seasonal bounce" Korea Herald. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-03-30
  7. ^ "2 Super Junior members cast for musical" Asiae. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 2012-04-17
  8. ^ Koreana Magazine:
  9. ^ (Korean) An interview with Kim Hoon and introduce his works

External links[edit]