Who Would Say He Doesn’t Know the Day? By Koh Jung-hee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

Mangwol Cemetery in Gwangju

Who Would Say He Doesn’t Know the Day? By Koh Jung-hee

The spirit,
the spirit who sleeps at Mangwol cemetery!
My tears flow though the sky is blue;
my tears flow, for the flowers bloom on the mounds and fields.

Who would say he has forgotten the day?
Who would say he doesn’t know the day?
The spirit that revives from heart to heart,
stands high above these times of biting winds.

Azaleas paint all the mountains red,
the blood tears of that day dye the mounds and fields.
A mother, rubbing the flower-tears on her heart,
calls your name and weeps.

Freedom stays alive behind the history of sacrifice.
Though it disappears from this age, the flower of democracy will bloom.
As the wind of reunification blows on the road I left,
tears well up at the spring news of national liberation.

누가 그날을 모른다 말하리/ 고정희

망월동에 잠든 넋이여
하늘이 푸르러 눈물이 나네
산꽃 들꽃 피어나니 눈물이 나네

누가 그날을 잊었다 말하리
누가 그날을 모른다 말하리
가슴과 가슴에서 되살아나는 넋
칼바람 세월 속에 우뚝 솟은 너

진달래 온 산에 붉게 물들어
그날의 피눈물 산천에 물들어
꽃울음 가슴에 문지르는 어머니
그대 이름 호명하며 눈물이 나네

목숨 바친 역사 뒤에 자유는 남는 것
시대는 사라져도 민주꽃 만발하리
나 떠난 길 위에 통일의 바람 부니
겨레해방 봄소식 눈물이 나네

Koh Jung-hee (1948 – 1991) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do, and studied at Hanshin University. A passionate feminist, she often offered sharp criticism on modern Korean society, whether it was political oppression or gender inequality. In June, 1991, she died, swept up by a torrential rain, while climbing up the Snake Valley of Jiri Mountain, a mountain she loved a great deal and wrote about often. Known for resistance poetry, particularly based upon the Gwangju Uprising, as well as for lyric poems, she derived many of her poetic inspirations from Gwangju and Jeolla-do (often known as Nam-do). In her lifetime she published at least ten collections of poetry and received the Korean Literature Award in 1983.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s