By Do Je-hae
A group of writers who have defected from North Korea are expected to set up their own center under PEN International, a writers’ association originally founded in London.
“We submitted a proposal to set up this new center at the last PEN International congress in Belgrade,” Lee Gil-won, president of the PEN International Korean Center, said. “We will discuss this more in the upcoming congress in Gyeongju.”
Kim said that he has been discussing the issue with writers who have defected from North Korea since last year. Around 40 writers living in South Korea and other countries are expected to participate.
If established, it will become the 144th center of PEN International.
The 78th International PEN Congress will be held in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province from Sept. 9 to 15. The event was held in Korea twice previously in 1970 and 1988. Under the theme of “Literature, Media, and Human Rights,” the congress will host forums, lectures and recitation of poems.
Since the establishment of PEN International in 1921, it has promoted literature, defended the freedom of expression and developed a community of writers worldwide. There are 143 centers in 102 countries. Korean PEN was set up in 1954, immediately after the 1950-1953 Korean War.
In September, 300 authors from 114 countries will be visiting Korea, including Nobel literary prize winners Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, to attend the 78th International PEN Congress.
Other notable guests will include professor David R McCann of Harvard University, author Yi Mun-yol and Korean-Japanese writer Yu Miri.