English Professor Earns National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
Jung is one of 18 Translation Fellows who will translate works from 12 languages and 16 countries into English. The fellowship will support Jung’s translation from the Korean of the multigenre collection Thus Spoke n't by South Korean poet Kim Hyesoon.
Thus Spoke n't began as a series of blog posts that Hyesoon posted anonymously to a major South Korean publisher's website over eight months in 2014. Totaling 179 individual pieces, the writings from the blog were later collected into a single volume published in 2016, the title of which is a Korean parody of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The pieces in this volume include poems, prose poems, opinion editorials, aphorisms, travelogues and vignettes. They explore the lives of Korean women, daydreams, popular television programs, cinema, art galleries and more.
Jung is already an acclaimed translator; his work on Yi Sang: Selected Works earned the 2021 Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Literary Work in Translation.
But this project began when Jung started sharing bits of translated Korean writing on social media during the pandemic. His posts happened to catch the eye of Hyesoon.
She reached out through a mutual acquaintance at South Korean publisher Itta last summer to arrange a meeting in Seoul. After that meeting, Jung found himself with a new literary translation project.
“Translating Kim Hyesoon’s work is both a challenge and an opportunity for me,” Jung said. “Her experimental style, rich with colloquial and slang nuances, aligns with my belief that translation should transform and enrich the target language. This project, I hope, will contribute to the continuous evolution of English expression.”