Though we are living in Korea, how much do we know about Korean history? If you don’t like to study Korean history or you feel history is difficult, books written by historical figures might help you. Especially, literary books which are set in the history of the author’s country can help make you feel interested about its history. I will introduce one of the most important poets in all of Korean history, Yun Dong-ju, and his collection of poems.
Yun Dong-ju is modern writer who lived in the Japanese Colonial Era and he was a writer and also an independence fighter and the Collection of Poems by Yun Dong-ju contains most of his poems. Most Koreans know at least one of Yun Dong-ju’s poems, because his poems are taught in Korean schools. One of particular fame is the poem, Foreword (서시), and is one of the most famous poems in Korea. Not only Foreword, but also more than a hundred poems are contained in this book and these poems are divided into three chapters. The first chapter’s name is Self-portrait (자화상), and it includes Foreword and The Poem Easily Written (쉽게 쓰여진 시). The second chapter starts with A Night of Counting Stars (별 헤는 밤), and the final chapter starts with Bed-wetter’s Map (오줌싸개 지도).
Yun Dong-ju’s poems are introspective and they express the hope for independence from Japan, so readers can feel the emotions of the Korean people who lived through the colonial period. If you want to read the poems in English, you can find translated versions in English on the Internet and there is also an English version of the book in the Dong-san Library.