It’s getting colder in Bonn and autumn is doing it’s best to make my life as uncomfortable as possible. I spend most of my time reading books right now and what is more fitting than that for autumn? Last Thursday we had a reading followed by a conversation with South Korean author Sung Suk-Je (also known as Song Sokze) at the department for Korean and Japanese studies. The event was moderated by Jun. -Prof. Dr. Hee Seok Park, who is the head of the department for Korean studies at our university.
Sung Suk-Je is a well-known author in South Korea, who has won more than a couple of literary prices. He was born in 1960 in Sangju and studied law at university before he first published poems. Now he also published novels and childrens books. His only book that got translated into both German and English is called “In the Shade of the Oleander”.
I myself did not know of Sung Suk-Je before last Thursday and the only reason I went to this reading, was because I’m writing myself and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to meet a professional author and hear about his work life. We heard a part from his new book, which was just translated into German and doesn’t even have a German title yet. The two favorites for a title are “The Village at the River” and “Majestic” and at this point I don’t know, wether this book will be translated into English as well, but I think so. The story follows a group of social outsiders who form their own little community at a village by a river (what a surprise) who are challenged by a group of gangsters. I thought, it sounded very interesting and the part we heard, was very beautifully written. Sung Suk-Je is a very aesthetic writer and he describes very intensively and I enjoyed his writing style a lot.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the conversation that followed the reading. Both, Sung Suk-Je and Prof. Park, were immensly humorous and it was highly enjoyable and interesting to hear the authors answers. He answered very openly and with a lot of detail. Sung Suk-Je talked about topics like his writing process, inspiration, translators and wether one needs to know gangster to write about them. The saying of the evening was definitly “Cheers to the Translators!” which I will repeat again and again, because translators are amazing and deserve a lot more respect.
The evening was not over with the reading and the conversation alone, however, and we were invited to eat some Korean snacks like Kimbap and Mandu, which was really delightful and delicious. At the end of the evening, I was very glad that I attended this event.