Yun Dong-ju

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Yun Dong-ju.jpg
BornDecember 30, 1917
Myeongdongchon(명동촌), Longjing, Jilin, China
DiedFebruary 16, 1945(1945-02-16) (aged 27)
Fukuoka Prison, Fukuoka, Japan
EducationYonsei University
Alma materRikkyo University English Literature
Doshisha University Literature
Notable works《하늘과 바람과 별과 詩》(Sky, Wind, Star and Poem)
Yun Dong-ju
Revised RomanizationYun Dong-ju
McCune–ReischauerYun Tong-ju
Pen name
Revised RomanizationHae Hwan
McCune–ReischauerHae Hwan

Yun Dong-ju or Yoon Dong-joo (윤동주, Korean pronunciation: [jundoŋdʑu]; December 30, 1917 – February 16, 1945) was a Korean poet.[1] Known for his lyric poetry as well as resistance poetry, he was born in Longjing, Jilin, China.


Yun Dong-ju was an eldest son among the four children of his father Yun Yeong-seok and his mother Kim Yong. As a child he was called "Haehwan" (해환, 海煥 [hɛːhwan]). He entered Eunjin Middle School in Longjing in 1932, and returned to Korea to attend Soongsil Middle School in Pyeongyang in 1936. When the school was closed down in the same year he moved back to Longjing and attended the Gwangmyeong Institute.[1] On December 27, 1941, aged 23, he graduated from Yonhi College, which later became Yonsei University.

He had been writing poetry from time to time, and chose 19 poems to publish in a collection he intended to call "Sky, Wind, Star, and Poem" (하늘과 바람과 별과 시),[2] but he was unable to get it published.

In 1942, he went to Japan and entered the English literature department of Rikkyo University in Tokyo, before moving to Doshisha University in Kyoto six months later. On July 14, 1943, he was arrested as a supporter of communism by the Japanese police and detained at the Kamogawa Police Station in Kyoto. The following year, the Kyoto regional court sentenced him to two years of prison on the charge of having participated in the Korean independence movement. He was imprisoned in Fukuoka, where he died in February 1945.[1]

His poetry was finally published in 1948, when three collections of handwritten manuscripts were published posthumously as "The Heavens and the Wind and the Stars and Poetry" (Haneulgwa Baramgwa Byeolgwa Si). With the appearance of this volume Yun came into the spotlight as a Resistance poet of the late occupation period.[1]

In November 1968, Yonsei University and others established an endowment for the Yun Tong-ju Poetry Prize.


The Literature Translation Institute of Korea summarizes Yun's contributions to Korean literature:

Yun’s poetry is notable for the childlike persona of his narrators, a sensitive awareness of a lost hometown, and an unusual scapegoat mentality deriving from a sense of shame at not being able to lead a conscientious life in a period of gloomy social realities. "Life and Death" (Salmgwa jugeum) is representative of the poems dating from 1934 to 1936, his period of literary apprenticeship. It describes the conflict between life and death, or light and darkness, but its poetic framework is more or less crude. From 1937 onwards, however, his poems reveal ruthless introspection and anxiety about the dark realities of the times. The poems of this later period reach a clear literary fruition in terms of their reflection on the inner self and their recognition of nationalist realities, as embodied in the poet's own experiences. In particular, they evince a steely spirit that attempts to overcome anxiety, loneliness, and despair and to surmount contemporary realities through hope and courage.[1]

Collection of poems[edit]

  • New Myeong-dong
  • Another Hometown
  • Sky, Wind, Star and Poem
  • Those Who love the stars


Sky, Wind, Star and Poem[edit]

In January 1948, 31 of his poems were published by Jeongeumsa (정음사, 正音社), together with an introduction by fellow poet Chong Ji-yong; this work was also titled Sky, Wind, Star, and Poem (하늘과 바람과 별과 시). His poetry had a huge impact. In 1976, Yun's relatives collected his other poems and added them to a third edition of the book. The poems that are in this edition (116 in total) are considered to be most of Yun's works.

In a 1986 survey, he was selected as 'the most popular poet amongst the youth'[3] and his popularity continues to this day.

The following are two English translations of the Foreword to his collection, dated November 20, 1941:


죽는 날까지 하늘을 우러러
한 점 부끄럼이 없기를

잎새에 이는 바람에도
나는 괴로워했다

별을 노래하는 마음으로
모든 죽어가는 것을 사랑해야지

그리고 나한테 주어진 길을

오늘 밤에도 별이 바람에 스치운다


Wishing not to have
so much as a speck of shame

toward heaven until the day I die,
I suffered, even when the wind stirred the leaves.

With my heart singing to the stars,
I shall love all things that are dying.

And I must walk the road
that has been given to me.

Tonight, again, the stars are
brushed by the wind.

—Translated by Kyungnyun K. Richards & Steffen F. Richards[4]


죽는 날까지 하늘을 우러러
한 점 부끄럼이 없기를

잎새에 이는 바람에도
나는 괴로워했다

별을 노래하는 마음으로
모든 죽어가는 것을 사랑해야지

그리고 나한테 주어진 길을

오늘 밤에도 별이 바람에 스치운다


Let me have no shame
under heaven 'til I die.

Even wind in the leaves
pained my soul.

With a heart that sings of stars
I must love all dying things.

And I must walk the path
given to me.

Tonight also,
the wind sweeps over the stars.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

In Lee Jung-myung's novel The Investigation (title of English translation of original Korean novel) is, inter alia, "an imaginative paean to" Yun.[6]

In 2011, Yun Dong-ju Shoots the Moon, a musical based on his life, was performed by the Seoul Performing Arts Company.[7]

The movie DongJu: The Portrait of a Poet was released in February, 2016. It deals with the lives of Yun Dong-ju and Song Mong-kyu in the setting of the Japanese colonial era.[8] Yun is portrayed by actor Kang Ha-Neul. And You can also watch this movie with English subtitles.[9]

On December 31 episode of Infinite Challenge featured the climax of the history and hip-hop, Kwanghee and Gaeko featuring Oh Hyuk from Hyukoh performed song title "Your Night" inspired from Yun Dong-ju life and poet.[10]

See also[edit]


  • Yu, Jong-ho (1996). "Yun, Tong-ju". Who's Who in Korean Literature. Seoul: Hollym. pp. 554–555. ISBN 1-56591-066-4.
  • Choi, Dong-Ho. 2002. "A Study of Intertextuality between Yoon Dong Ju's 'Another Hometown' and Lee Sang's 'The Lineage': Centering on the Poetic Word 'the Skeleton'," Journal of the Research Society of Language and Literature 39: 309-325. [in Korean]


  1. ^ a b c d e ""Yoon Dongju" LTI Korea Datasheet available at LTI Korea Library or online at: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kyungnyun K. Richards, Steffen F. Richards, Sky, Wind and Stars, Fremont CA 2003, p.1
  5. ^ David Bannon, "Unique Korean Cultural Concepts in Interpersonal Relations," Translation Journal, 12(1)
  6. ^ Kim Young-jin, 2024, book review of The Investigation, p. 17, The Korea Times, 12–13 April.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Herald, The Korea (2016-03-22). "Theaters to screen "Dong-ju" with English subtitles". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  10. ^ "Infinite Challenge Recap: Episode 513 - Korean Variety Recaps". Korean Variety Recaps. 2017-01-01. Retrieved 2017-04-10.

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