Kim Hyesoon

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Kim Hyesoon
Born1955 (age 62–63)
OccupationPoet, professor
NationalityRepublic of Korea
Literary movementFeminism
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Hye-sun
McCune–ReischauerKim Hyesun

Kim Hyesoon (born 1955) (Hangul김혜순) is a South Korean poet.


In 1955 Kim Hyesoon was born in Uljin, Gyeongsangbuk-do. She received her Ph.D. in Korean Literature from Konkuk University and began as a poet in 1979 with the publication of Poet Smoking a Cigarette (Dambaereul piuneun siin) and four other poems in Literature and Intellect.[1] Kim is an important contemporary poet in South Korea, and she lives in Seoul and teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Kim was in the forefront of women published in a literary journal, Munhak kwa jisŏng (Literature and Intellect).[2]


Kim started to receive critical acclaim in the late 1990s and it is her own belief that her work was partly recognized because at that time there was a generally strong wave of women’s poets and poetry.[3]

Kim is the recipient of multiple literary prizes including the Kim Su-yŏng Literature Award (1996) for her poem, A Poor Love Machine, Sowol Poetry Literature Award (2000),[4] and Midang Literature Award (2006), which are named after three renowned contemporary Korean poets. Kim was the first woman poet to receive the Kim Su-yŏng Literature Award, Midang Award, contemporary poetry award and Daesan Literary Award.

Kim’s poetry collections include: From another star (1981), Father's scarecrow (1984), The Hell of a certain star (1987), Our negative picture (1991), My Upanishad, Seoul (1994), A Poor Love Machine (1997), To the Calendar Factory Manager (2000), A Glass of Red Mirror (2004), Your First (2008), and Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (2011)Blossom, Pig(2016)

Kim has participated in readings at poetry festivals all over the world: Smith College Poetry Center (2003), Taipei Poetry Festival (2008), 41st Poetry International Festival Rotterdam (2010), Poesie Festival Berlin (2011), Poetry Parnassus London (2012), Stockholm international Poetry Festival(2014), Hong Kong International Poetry nights(2015)Festival for World Literature Cologne (2018) etc.

Kim's skill as a writer resides in her facility at combining poetic images with experimental language while simultaneously grounding her work in ‘feminine writing’ drawn from female experiences.[5] Her language is violent and linguistically agile, appropriate for her topics which often center on death and/or injustice.[6] Many times, Kim’s poetry is marked by the color of blood, as in “red baby,”“red embryonic fluid,”and “red dew.”[7]

Works in English[edit]

Many translated into English by poet Don Mee Choi.

  • The autobiography of Death New Directions ISBN 978-0811227346
  • Poor Love Machine Action Books ISBN 978-0-900575-75-4
  • I'm O.K, I'm Pig Bloodaxe Books ISBN 978-1-78037-102-3
  • Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream Action Books ISBN 978-0-9898048-1-3
  • Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers Action Books ISBN 0979975514
  • Anxiety of Words (Collection with other authors) Zephyr Press ISBN 0939010879
  • All the Garbage of the World, Unite! Action Books ISBN 0983148015
  • When the Plug Gets Unplugged
  • Princess Abandoned (essays), (Tinfish, 2012)
  • Trilingual Renshi Vagabond Press ISBN 978-1-922181-44-2

Added to The &NOW Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing (&NOW Books, 2013)[8]

Works in Korean (Partial)[edit]

  • From Another Star, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1981
  • Father’s Scarecrow, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1985
  • The Hell of a Certain Star, Ch’ŏngha Seoul, 1988. Reprinted by Munhakdongnae, 1997
  • Our Negative Picture, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1991
  • My Upanishad, Seoul, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1994
  • A Poor Love Machine, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 1997
  • To the Calendar Factory Manager, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 2000
  • A Glass of Red Mirror, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 2004
  • Your First, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul, 2008
  • Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul 2011
  • Blossom, Pig, Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, Seoul 2016
  • The autobiography of Death, Munhaksilheomsil, Seoul 2016


  • To Write as a Woman: Lover, Patient, Poet, and You (Seoul: Munhakdongnae, 2002) - Essay on Poetry
  • Thus Spoke No (Poessay) (Seoul: Munhakdongane, 2016)
  • Women, Doing Poetry (Seoul: Munhak kwa chisŏng sa, 2017)

Critical responses[edit]

Ruth Williams. "“Female Poet” as Revolutionary Grotesque: Feminist Transgression in the Poetry of Ch’oe Sŭng-ja, Kim Hyesoon, and Yi Yŏn-ju." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 29.2 (2010): 395-415. Project MUSE. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <>.


  • Kim Suyoung Award (1997)
  • Sowol Poetry Award (2000)
  • Contemporary Poetry Award (2000)
  • Midang Poetry Award (2006)
  • Daesan Poetry Award (2008)[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LTI Korea Author Database: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  2. ^ South Korea - Poetry International Web:[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ South Korea - Poetry International Web:[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ LTI Korea Author Database: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2011-08-02.
  5. ^ South Korea - Poetry International Web:[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ South Korea - Poetry International Web:[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Kim Hyesoon, Korean Literature Translation Institute, p.1
  8. ^
  9. ^ Naver People Search,

External links[edit]

Several of Kim's poems are translated here at the South Korea - Poetry International Web

Review of Kim Hyesoon’s Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feathers at Bookslut, January 2010. Review of Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers in Constant Critic, March 2008,
Review of All the Garbage of the World Unite! at Montevidayo
A Mention at BURNAWAY