The Korea Herald


New literary and translation prizes select winners to find fresh voices in Korean literature

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : March 18, 2023 - 15:34

    • Link copied

Bora Jin (left) and Jenny Jisun Kim (Na Hye-in, Doi Kim/Charm Agency) Bora Jin (left) and Jenny Jisun Kim (Na Hye-in, Doi Kim/Charm Agency)

A newly established series of literary and translation prizes, which aims to discover emerging talent in Korean literature and Korean-English translation, has completed its selection of inaugural winners with an announcement of its translation winner earlier this week, according to the series organizer, Charm Agency, this week.

On Tuesday, Jenny Jisun Kim, a US-based translator and visual artist, was named the winner of the New Translator Prize for her translation of Dolki Min’s “Settled and Solid," a short story about a rock -- a solid but reassuring companion -- that also pays attention to the fluidity of rocks and minerals. Dolki Min is the author's pen name.

In 2022, Charm, a literary agency based in Seoul, together with New York-based Barbara J. Zitwer Agency launched the New Korean Voice Prize and the New Translator Prize.

The winner of the former literature prize was announced in November in cooperation with EunHaengNaMu Publishing as a partner.

For the New Korean Voice Prize, the winning title, Bora Jin’s “A Prescription for You from Memory Care” (working English title) is a dystopian story set in a new future where a “memory care” system has been introduced to erase people's traumas to promote social stability after a collapse. The story follows Bom, who works at a pharmaceutical company that produces memory care drugs.

The judges said the novel addresses pressing contemporary concerns about memory and trauma while exploring the theme of family attachment, which resonates with readers of all backgrounds. The book skillfully weaves together genre elements, examining powerful themes such as how aggressive marketing can destroy individuals and relationships within a hierarchically structured and closed society.

The novel is set to be published in Korean by EunHaengNaMu Publishing in May.

The translation contest was overseen by Anton Hur, the two-time longlisted and shortlisted translator for the International Booker Prize in 2022, who served as the chief of the jury.

Hur said the translation matches “the verve and wit of the source text,” adding that while the translation is a bit raw, it works well with the source text’s form and premise.