Like Water, I Flow by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

The Sumjin River, photographed by Nam Hee-jin

Like Water, I Flow by Kim Nam-ju

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water, following water myself.
As I meet the new spring carried in by the brisk eastern wind,
I will flow on and on into a stream,
moisten the pebbles,
wash away the dead skin on the naughty boy’s feet that have sat all winter.

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water,
following water myself.
As I meet a farmer in the draught
under summer’s penetrating sun
I will flow on and on into a ditch
to ease the farmer’s worry
and to dampen the rice stalks in the burning field

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water, following water myself.
Since the half moon rises upon the hill,
soon Chusok will come.
I will flow on and on over the shallows holding moonlight
to run the water mill and pound rice into flour.

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water, following water myself.
Summer followed spring, and now fall deepens.
I too will flow into a deep river gently
and go to a warm port to hibernate.

물 따라 흘러 가면서/ 김남주

흘러 흘러서
물은 어디로 가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게 물어본다
건듯건듯 동풍이 불어 새봄을 맞이했으니
졸졸졸 시내로 흘러 조약돌을
적시고
겨우내 낀 개구쟁이의 발때를 벗기러 가지

흘러 흘러서 물은 어디로 가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게
물어본다
오뉴월 뙤약볕에 가뭄의 농부를 만났으니
돌돌돌 도랑으로 흘러 농부의 애간장을 녹이고
타는 들녘 벼포기를 적시러
가지

흘러 흘러서 물은 어디로 가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게 물어본다
동산에 반달이 떴으니 낼 모래가
추석이라
넘실넘실 개여울로 흘러 달빛을 머금고
물레방아를 돌려 떡방아를 찧으러 가지

흘러 흘러서 물은 어디로
가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게 물어본다
봄 따라 여름 가고 가을도 깊었으니
나도 이제 깊은 강 잔잔하게 흘러
어디
따뜻한 포구로 겨울잠을 자러 가지

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

Stars by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Jung Jeong-im

Stars by Kim Nam-ju

The night falls,
and the world is quiet all over.
There is one thing that stays awake
all night, glowing
with longing, unable to sleep.
People call it a star,
a promise, a hope.
When the night deepens
and people suffer most,
they become stars one by one
and cry Mother, Mother.

별/ 김남주

밤 들어 세상은
온통 고요한데
그리워 못 잊어 홀로 잠 못 이뤄
불 밝혀 지새우는 것이 있다
사람들은 그것을 별이라 그런다
기약이라 소망이라 그런다
밤 깊어
가장 괴로울 때면
사람들은 저마다 별이 되어
어머니 어머니라 부른다

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

As Falling Leaves Pile Up by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Hye Hyon

As Falling Leaves Pile Up by Kim Nam-ju

You are my longing—
come over;
gently push the ferry across the river—
come, driving the short rain.

You are my longing—
when the falling leaves pile up between the pines,
come over, gently step over a dozen piles of them.

Come, you are my light—
before the first snow melts,
come, hurry, carrying a match in your chest.

Come, come, hurry
across the field, when new buds sprout—
come, run, carrying an armful of news
because you are my joy.

지는 잎새 쌓이거든/ 김남주

당신은 나의 기다림
강건너 나룻배 지그시 밀어 타고
오세요
한줄기 소낙비 몰고 오세요

당신은 나의 그리움
솔밭 사이사이로 지는 잎새 쌓이거든
열두 겹 포근히 즈려밟고 오세요

오세요 당신은 나의 화로
눈 내려 첫눈 녹기 전에 서둘러
가슴에 당신 가슴에 불씨 담고 오세요

오세요 어서 오세요
가로질러 들판 그 흙에 새순 나거든
한아름 소식 안고 달려 오세요
당신은 나의 환희이니까요

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

Freedom by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Kim Jae-gon

Freedom by Kim Nam-ju

I am free when I work for all the people.
I can’t sing that I am free
unless I work with everyone sweating.

I am free when I fight for all the people.
I can’t sing that I am free
unless I fight with others bleeding.

I am free when I struggle for all the people.
I can’t sing that I am free
unless I share the blood, sweat, and tears.

Everyday people shout
freedom, democracy, and the people
while inside they work for their own self-interests.
What in the world can we do?

What can one become
when one deceives oneself?

자유/ 김남주

만인을 위해 내가 일할 때 나는 자유
땀 흘려 함께 일하지 않고서야
어찌 나는 자유다라고 노래할 수 있으랴

만인을 위해 내가 싸울 때 나는 자유
피흘려 함께 싸우지 않고서야
어찌 나는 자유다라고 노래할 수 있으랴

만인을 위해 내가 몸부림칠 때 나는 자유
피와 땀과 눈물을 나누어 흘리지 않고서야
어찌 나는 자유다라고 노래할 수 있으랴

사람들은 맨날
겉으로는 자유여 민주주의여 동포여 외쳐대면서도
속으로는 제 잇속만 차리고들 있으니
도대체 무엇을 할 수 있단 말인가

제 자신을 속이고서
도대체 무엇이 될 수 있단 말인가
제 자신을 속이고서

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.