Posted : 2009-04-10 17:18
Updated : 2009-04-10 17:18

Recent Books

Songs for Tomorrow: A Collection of Poems 1960-2002 by Ko Un

Poems by Ko Un; Translated from Korean to English by Brother Anthony of Taize, Kim Young-moo and Gary Gach: 365pp., 25,650 won

Ko Un is one of Korea's leading poets, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature in 2005 and 2006. Now readers can enjoy the writer's works in English with `` Songs for Tomorrow: A Collection of Poems 1960-2002 by Ko Un.''

The book is comprised of his early works like ``A Poet's Heart'' from ``Other Shore Sensibility''(1960), ``Journey with Hans'' from ``Seaside Poems'' and also his later works like ``A Shooting Star'' from ``What?'' (1991) and ``Name,'' from ``Himalaya Poems'' (2000).

``Ko Un is, indeed, like a force of nature. Within poetry, the amazing array of kinds of poetry you'll find here has caused literary critics to call him `The Ko Uns' rather than Ko Un,'' the translators write in the introduction.

``Songs of Tomorrow'' also includes a translated version of Ko's preface, where he takes readers to his childhood, when he dreamed of becoming a poet and also his journey to becoming a writer.

Considering the number of works the poet has created for the past 51 years (the official number of his books stands 135), this small pocketbook will be able to satisfy readers who are looking for some of the best works of Ko in English.

-Han Sang-hee

Joseon's Female Merchant Kim Man-deok

Yoon Soo-min; Changhae Publishing: 584 pp., 18,000 won

Records are few on Kim Man-deok, a Joseon Kingdom female merchant, who embodied the virtue of a true, noble merchant. This book is a novel based on her life story.

She was born in 1739 on Jeju Island and became a gisaeng (female entertainer) employed by the state after losing her parents at a very early age and later turned herself to a successful merchant and philanthropist.

Kim was good at selling the principal products of the island and running other businesses with woman divers, handicraftsmen and farmers.

Her ability as a merchant seemed to be impossible at that time, given the fact that during the Joseon era, Jeju Island was so remote and thought of as a place of exile and Jeju inhabitants could hardly travel to the mainland. But she built up her assets from lucrative businesses there and escaped her status of a gisaeng belonging to the state.

When famine gripped the island, she donated all her assets to the residents, saving 18,000 lives. The book focuses on her achievements ― ignored by history ― and shows the development of Joseon's commerce and economic activities.

-Chung Ah-young

What Are You Optimistic About?

Translated from English to Korean by Jang Seok-bong and Kim Dae-yeon; Galleon; 563pp., 19,800 won

From global warming to economic crises, things seem to be turning worse. At this time of pessimism prevailing over optimism, the world needs some antidotes to this epidemic of negative views. But what's out there to be positive about?

This is the question that the author asked 160 scholars and scientific thinkers. John Brockman, the founder of Edge, the influential online salon, complied their answers in this book.

Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Harvard professors and other world class thinkers laid bare their minds about what they're positive about. They are neither blindly nor naively optimistic. Their optimism is based on logical, professional views and insight.

Topics are wide-ranging, from physics and medicine to education and religion or the end of the world. They illustrate diverse sides of the world's future and why they're optimistic about it.

These great thinkers also present tasks that we should tackle to make a better world and this book may help change readers' perceptions of the future of mankind in a more positive way.


What Jackie Taught Us

Tina Santi Flaherty; Translated from English to Korean by Lee Eun-sun; Woongjin Think Big: 244 pp., 12,000 won

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, also known as Jackie O, remains to this day an iconic figure possessing intellect, leadership and style. The former American first lady is well known in Korea, and, along with Audrey Hepburn, is considered a top role model for young women.

This book provides an insight into the secrets of Jackie O's soft charisma and charm. The book argues that Onassis' graceful style stems not just from what she wore but how she lived life in general. Clothes and parlance are not enough; it is rather the right attitude, sense of self and conviction, courage and endless self-development that were key to her beauty.

The author starts at the beginning, of how Onassis was influenced by her father, a lady's man who told her not to trust men. She was never pretty in the traditional sense, but managed to become a fashionista. Even as first lady and then wife to millionaire Onassis, the former reporter never stopped writing columns.

-Lee Hyo-won
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