Sharing JP’s letter written in January 2013

Hi everyone,

I have taught literary/cultural theory, modern British literature, and post colonial literature at Marygrove College.  During the past five years, I have translated about 250 Korean poems into English and published them in journals and my own website ( 

Around the time I was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer at the end of 2008, I was invited to participate on a collection of modern Korean literature, led by Columbia University and the Korean Literature Translation Institute.  This work began my journey of translating Korean poems. 

Through translation of Korean poetry, I wanted to share our Korean culture and literature with the rest of the world.  More importantly, I wanted to let the world know that the canon of Korean literature reflects our deep desire for peace and justice.  Because of my college experience in Gwangju in 1980, I found the literary work on the Gwangju Uprising to be a source of inspiration.  I translated many poems about what transpired on May 18, 1980 in Gwangju.  I also translated many Korean poems that invoke God’s peace and justice all over the world, beyond our region.

This has been a small, but very endearing project to me, just like Oh Dong Island’s camellias that blossom after a long winter.  I would like to pray with you for God’s peace and justice on earth. 

Thank you and I love you.

JP Song

*Sincere appreciation to Anne Rashid and Darcy Brandel, who collaborated on the translation of these Korean poems. 

By the Winter River by Ahn Do-hyun

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Bok Hyo-geun

Photography by Bok Hyo-geun

By the Winter River by Ahn Do-hyun (1961- )

The river
took pity on the delicate snowflakes,
which jumped down into none other than the river water
and disappeared, melting shapelessly.
So, it tossed and turned,
to change its posture
before the snowflakes hit its water.
Every time it turned, the river water made a fierce sound.
the innocent snow fell endlessly,
and the river,
from the night before,
began to form thin ice, starting from its edge,
in order to save the snow with its own body.

겨울 강가에서–안도현

어린 눈발들이, 다른 데도 아니고
강물 속으로 뛰어내리는 것이
그리하여 형체도 없이 녹아 사라지는 것이
안타까웠던 것이다.
그래서 눈발이 물 위해 닿기 전에
몸을 바꿔 흐르려고
이리저리 자꾸 뒤척였는데
그때마다 세찬 강물 소리가 났던 것이다.
그런 줄도 모르고
계속 철없이 철없이 눈은 내려,
눈을 제 몸으로 받으려고
강의 가장자리부터 살얼음을 깔기 시작한 것이었다.

출전: “그리운 여우” (창비, 1997)