Kim, Sowol

Sowol Kim

Ronsdale books by Sowol Kim:

  1. Fugitive Dreams (selected and translated by Jaihiun Kim and Ronald Hatch)

Better known by his pen name Sowol Kim, or Sowol for short (the name means “Simple Moon”), Chongshik Kim was born in 1902 and brought up in a small town in the far north of North Korea. After high school, he studied for a time in Japan. Although he did not finish his formal studies, he was widely read in Western literature as well as the Chinese classics.

While happy in his marriage, Sowol Kim never found it easy to make a living, and he often resorted to drinking to escape from unpleasant realities. In 1934, at age thirty-two, he died an early and tragic death.

Almost all of Sowol Kim’s lyric masterpieces were written in a period of give years between 1920 and 1925. Shocked by his suicide, some readers have taken comfort in the belief that Sowol must have written himself out before his death. Whatever the case, no other poet in Korea has commanded a larger audience; no one is ever likely to rival his popularity.