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Encyclopedia > Ko Un
Ko Un
Birth name
Hangul: 고은태
Hanja: 高銀泰
Revised Romanization: Go Eun-tae
McCune-Reischauer: Ko Ŭnt'ae
Pen name (ho)
Hangul: 고은
Hanja: 高銀
Revised Romanization: Go Eun
McCune-Reischauer: Ko Ŭn

Ko Un (born on 8 January 1933) is a Korean poet. Hangul also refers to a word processing application widely used in Korea. ... It has been suggested that Sino-Korean be merged into this article or section. ... The Revised Romanization of Korean (Korean: 국어의 로마자 표기법; 國語의 로마字 表記法) is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea. ... McCune-Reischauer romanization is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems, along with the Revised Romanization of Korean, which replaced (a modified) McCune-Reischauer as the official romanization system in South Korea in 2000. ... A pen name or nom de plume is a pseudonym adopted by an author. ... January 8 is the 8th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... A poet is some one who writes poetry. ...



Ko was born in what is now Gunsan in South Korea. Gunsan is a city in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. ...

The Korean war emotionally and physically traumatized Ko and caused the death of many of his relatives and friends. Ko's hearing suffered from acid that he poured into his ears during an acute crisis in this time and again during a police beating in 1979. In 1952, before the war had ended, Ko became a Buddhist monk. After a decade of monastic life, he chose to return to the active, secular world in 1962 to become a devoted poet. From 1963 to 1966 he lived on Jejudo, where he set up a charity school, and then moved back to Seoul. His life was not calm in the outer world, and he wound up attempting suicide (a second time) in 1970. Combatants UN combatants: Republic of Korea United States United Kingdom Communist combatants: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea People’s Republic of China Soviet Union Commanders Syngman Rhee Chung Il Kwon Douglas MacArthur Mark W. Clark Matthew Ridgway Kim Il-sung Choi Yong-kun Peng Dehuai Strength Note: All figures... The grounds of Koreas Buryeongsa Temple. ... A Buddhist Monk in Sri Lanka In Pāli, a bhikkhu (male) or bhikkhuni (female) is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. ... Jejudo Flag Jeju-do is the smallest province of South Korea, situated on, and coterminous with, the countrys largest island. ... Seoul (Sŏul[1] 서울)   is the capital and largest city of South Korea (Republic of Korea). ...

Around the time the South Korean government attempted to curb democracy by putting forward the Yusin Constitution in late 1972, Ko became very active in the democracy movement and led efforts to improve the political situation in South Korea, while still writing prolifically and being sent to prison four times (1974, 1979, 1980 and 1989). In May 1980, during the coup d'etat led by Chun Doo-Hwan, Ko was accused of treason and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. He was released in August 1982 as part of a general pardon. The Yusin Constitution, also spelled Yushin, was the official constitution of the South Korean Fourth Republic, 1972-1979. ... A coup détat, or simply a coup, is the sudden overthrow of a government, usually done by a small group that just replaces the top power figures. ...

After his release, his life became calmer; however, he startled his large following by revising many of his previously published poems. Ko married Sang-Wha Lee in 1983-05-05 and moved to Anseong, Gyeonggi-do, where he still lives. He resumed writing and began to travel, his many visits providing fabric for the tapestry of his poems. 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... May 5 is the 125th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (126th in leap years). ... Anseong is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, 80 km south of Seoul. ... Gyeonggi-do is the most populous province in South Korea. ...


He has written poems in almost every conceivable form on virtually every topic. His early poems were mostly short lyrics marked by an extraordinarily sensuous display of verbal intensity. Very often, his poems are suggested by scenery glimpsed, by a person, or by a passing memory. Such poems can be quite long or very brief, he has written a collection of Zen poems, as well as other collections of brief epigrams. He has also written a 7-volume epic, Baektusan, about the Korean struggle for independence fom Japan. His most extraordinary poetic undertaking is the Maninbo, (Ten Thousand Lives) series currently (mid-2006) up to volume 23, in which he evokes every person he has ever met personally or encountered in the course of his reading during his life. Contrary to a popular misconception, politics and struggle have never been pervasive in his published work, although he read poems of protest at every major pro-democracy demonstration during the 1970s and 1980s. His poems are intensely spontaneous, characterized by vernacular language rather than literary finesse.


Ko Un has published approximately 135 volumes, including many volumes of poetry, several works of fiction (especially Buddhist fiction), autobiography, drama, essays, translations from classical Chinese, travel books, etc. Portions of his work have been translated into English (Abiding Places, Korea North & South; Beyond Self [republished in 2007 as What?], Flowers of a Moment 185 brief poems; Little Pilgrim (a novel), Songs for Tomorrow: A Collection of Poems 1961-2001; Sound of My Waves (Selected Poems); Ten Thousand Lives (introduction by Robert Hass); and The Three Way Tavern (Selected Poems), Spanish (4-5 volumes)' Italian, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Czech, Bulgarian, Swedish and Danish.

Literary Awards

1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Nobel Prize in Literature medal. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

All of the following links lead to English language pages.

  • Gimm-Young Publishers' extensive Ko Un website (requires Flash)
  • Numerous links woven by his English-language co-translator Brother Anthony
  • The iconic news photograph (Ko Un is inbetween Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il) at unification summit)
  • Ko Un's place in modern Korean poetry by Choi Won-shik
  • Short overview of Ko and his style
  • Writers from the Other Asia by John Feffer, from The Nation,
  • Brief introduction from a publisher
  • Pointing Beyond Words, a biographical survey, by Gary Gach, from BuddhaDharma
  • Microreview of Ten Thousand Lives (Maninbo) by Katie Peterson, from Boston Review
  • Several poems from Ten Thousand Lives on Sogang University website
  • Three more poems from Ten Thousand Lives plus a short bio, at Words Without Borders



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