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[New in Korean] Poet Kim Hyun of ‘Glory Hole’ sings love beyond life and death

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Sept. 23, 2023 - 15:01

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"Ghost Duet" by Kim Hyun (Hankyoreh Publishing)

"Ghost Duet"

By Kim Hyun

Hankyoreh Publishing

Poet Kim Hyun has been delicately depicting the lives of queer people in Korea.

His commitment to social issues is also evident, from his participation in events such as the "304 Recital," a reading event commemorating the 304 victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster, and in a memorial literature recital honoring the victims of last year’s Halloween crowd crush in Itaewon.

Kim’s debut short story collection, “Ghost Duet,” is quite similar to his first poetry collection, "Glory Hole" (2014) -- which delved into themes of love, sexual desire, the experiences of minorities and death – along with a mishmash of dystopian science fiction. “Glory Hole” was translated into English by Suhyun J. Ahn and Archana Madhavan, and published in June 2022.

The latest collection of 11 stories written over the past five years further expands Kim’s perspective on life while focusing on the values of love.

The collection explores the intersection of the living and the departed through supernatural phenomena and futuristic elements. It delves into the connections between the past and the present, the resilience of survivors following disasters, and the poignant love stories of queer youth.

Kim's narratives feature middle-aged lesbian couples, financially struggling young gay couples, and youth who have endured tragedies.

The essence of the "duet" embodies the romantic spirit. Filled with stories of love, it centers around queer individuals who often find themselves marginalized, and become targets of hatred and discrimination.

Yet, love remains the central theme, celebrating the unwavering resilience of the human spirit.