bookmark_borderPost-388: Virus Panics; the COVID19 panic vs. the June 2015 MERS panic in S.Korea, as I remember it

The COVID19 virus is all over the news. Though it began in the Chinese interior in Dec. 2019, South Korea is again in the news for an outbreak, as if on cue re-earning its sometime-nickname of the Land of Extremes. S.Korea has racked up more confirmed COVID19 virus infections (called in Korea “Corona19,” 코로나19), by a considerable margin, than anywhere outside the epicenter around Wuhan.

I have a few things I’d like to say related in some way to this latest big virus panic and/or to Korea’s place in it, in descending order of how long ago:

(1) My observations on what’s going on around me now with regard to the virus panic;
(2) China’s soft-power problem; COVID19 as a potential serious a blow to China’s image/prestige;
(3) S.Korea and the negative influence of the Shinchonji group [신천지] (my experiences with this group, which is definitely a cult by popular understanding of the term, date to 2014; second-hand as early as 2012; the experiences were through no fault of my own, as they use front groups and all manner of deceptions to get in contact with people, effectively like an intelligence agency);
(4) My memory of the MERS virus panic of June 2015 that hit South Korea.

I’ll do these in succession in separate posts, starting with the last and most distant, the MERS virus panic of 2015 (2015년6월의 메르스 바이러스-감염병 위기).

I remember “MERS” well. What’s strange to me is how few others seem to, or their memory of it as something minor. I doubt it made the news much at all in the US.

Here we go with this MERS memory post.


The MERS crisis as I remember it:

Continue reading “Post-388: Virus Panics; the COVID19 panic vs. the June 2015 MERS panic in S.Korea, as I remember it”

bookmark_borderPost-351: “Falling Flower Petals” [Korean Poem, My Translation]

내가 최근에 알게된《낙화》라는 감동적인 시를 한번 영어로 번역해보겠다. 우선 이 시를 소개한 사람한테 고맙다고 하고 싶다. 감사해요, M씨.

이 시를 쓴 시인의 이름은 이형기(李炯基)다. 진주에서 1933년에 태어났고 1956년에 동국대학교를 졸업하고 2005에 돌아가셨다. 검색해봤더니 낙화라는 시가 1963년에 출판한 것 같다. (그런데 출판년보다는 언제 처음 쓴 것을 알고 싶다…) 이 시의 내용을 이해하기가 좀 어렵긴 어려운데 사실 모국어로도 그런거죠. 당연, 보통 길 아니고 시 때문이죠. 나 같은 번역하려고 하는 사람이 꼼꼼하게 최선을 다할 수 있지만, 이중적 의미를 갖는 원래 나온 단어와 표현들이 같은 뉘앙스로 번역할 수 없는게 분명하다. 아무튼, 어찔 수 는 것이다. 내가 최선을 다했다. 내가 번역한 것을 읽으실 분께도 고마워요.

I am translating a poem by a Korean poet named Lee Hong-Ki (1933-2005). The poem’s name in Korean is “Nak-Hwa” (낙화, 落花, these characters meaning “fall” and “flower”). This is entirely my own translation with the help of various dictionaries.

 

 
낙화 / 이형기 시인

 

가야 할 때가 언제인가를
분명히 알고 가는 이의
뒷모습은 얼마나 아름다운가.

봄 한철
격정을 인내한
나의 사랑은 지고 있다.

.

분분한 낙화……
결별이 이룩하는 축복에 싸여
지금은 가야 할 때,

무성한 녹음과 그리고
머지않아 열매 맺는
가을을 향하여

나의 청춘은 꽃답게 죽는다.
헤어지자
섬세한 손길을 흔들며
하롱하롱 꽃잎이 지는 어느 날

나의 사랑, 나의 결별,
샘터에 물 고이듯 성숙하는
내 영혼의 슬픈 눈. 

____________________

Falling Flower Petals
By Lee Hyong-Ki [1963]

To know, with certainty,
when it’s time to go.
Now that is a thing of true beauty to behold.

Springtime.
My love has long persevered
through passions,
but is now, as the petals of a flower,
descending to the earth.

Oh, that sweet fragrance of falling petals….
With kind words, it is ended. Farewell.
The time to go is now.

Behold, greenery and lush shade,
There will soon be fruit for the taking,
as the autumn is coming.

My youth, much like a flower, dies.
One fine day, as we part ways,
I see the waving of a delicate hand,
and the falling, one after another,
of flower petals.

My love, the parting of ways.
What is left is as tranquil as a pool of still water.
The sad eyes of my matured soul look on.

 

 
Picture
이형기 시인 / Poet Lee Hyong-ki, 1960s?
 

bookmark_borderPost-347: “Self-Portrait” by Yun Dong-Ju [Korean Poem, Translated]

I had the pleasure of learning the name Yun Dong-Ju (윤동주) last week. A movie is now out about him and I had the good fortune to see it (the less fortunate part was how little I understood). Yun Dong-Ju is, it seems, one of the most beloved Korean poets of the 20th century. He also has a romantic and “political” (one might say) cachet to the present-day Korean mind because of his early death in a Japanese prison in February 1945 at age 27.

I have decided to translate one of Yun Dong-Ju’s poems called Self-Portrait, though I might prefer to translate the title also as Portrait of the Artist. It was written in 1939 and was included by the author in a collection he published with limited circulation in 1941. The collection was republished in 1948 following the author’s death and the deceased Yun Dong-Ju became a kind of poet folk hero, it seems.

The below is my own translation. I increasingly find Korean poetry beautiful for its disciplined use of language and layers of implied meanings, but this also makes it a real challenge to translate smoothly.

Self Portrait has an air of mystery to it. Two characters. Thick symbolism. In reading it, many questions come up. This is a self-portrait, is it? Which character is the author? Both? I suppose that is up to us to decide…


Self-Portrait

Yun Dongju [1917-1945] / Poet
[Translated by Me, April 2016]

On my solitary way down from a rocky outcropping,
I seek out a secluded well for a little peek inside.

Inside the well: A bright moon, drifting clouds,
a spread-out sky. A blue breeze blows. It is autumn.

There is also this strapping young lad.
For reasons unclear to me, I feel that I hate this lad.
I turn away to leave and proceed on my way.
Presently, I begin to take pity on the lad.
I go back for another look.
There he is again, still there, just as before.
Again I feel that I hate this lad, and again I take my leave.
Walking away, I come to realize something. I yearn for the lad.

Inside the well: A bright moon, drifting clouds,
a spread-out sky. A blue breeze blows. It is autumn.
As from the recesses of fond memory, there is, also, this lad.


Original Korean:

자화상
윤동주 [1917-1945] / 시인

산모퉁이를 돌아 논가 외딴 우물을
홀로 찾아가선 가만히 들여다봅니다.

우물 속에는 달이 밝고 구름이 흐르고
하늘이 펼치고 파아란 바람이 불고
가을이 있습니다.

그리고 한 사나이가 있습니다.
어쩐지 그 사나이가 미워져 돌아갑니다.
돌아가다 생각하니 그 사나이가 가엾어집니다.
도로 가 들여다보니 사나이는 그대로 있습니다.

다시 그 사나이가 미워져 돌아갑니다.
돌아가다 생각하니 그 사나이가 그리워집니다.

우물 속에는 달이 밝고 구름이 흐르고
하늘이 펼치고 파아란 바람이 불고
가을이 있고 추억처럼 사나이가 있습니다.

Picture

Poster for “Dong-Ju” (2016). Yun Dong-Ju is on the left, without glasses. The actor bears a strong resemblance to the real person.

bookmark_borderPost-316: Warning. Live Fire Drills (Incheon)

A pleasant, sunny Saturday in May 2015. We took a few wrong turns and ended up here:

Picture
Sign seen near Gyeyang Mountain [계양산], Incheon, South Korea

We were four — Myself, two Canadians from Ontario (Robbie and Heather) and an American from Massachusetts (Sav. C.). The wrong turns were taken near Gyeyang Mountain in Incheon, South Korea.

These others were all new to Korea, such that I was leading them around. I translated the sign:

경고
사격중

등산객 여러분의 안전을 위해 우회도로를 이용해 주시기 바랍니다
(Arrow)
제9100부대장
Warning
Shooting in Progress

Hikers are requested to use the bypass road for their own safety.
(Arrow)
Commanding Officer, Unit 9100
.

I proposed a brief reconnaissance in the arrow’s direction, but was vetoed by the two female members of our group.

We’d come down from summit on the right-hand-side path. At the time, I assumed that this side path would lead to a shooting range which would be blocked off by barbed wire or something. I was sure we wouldn’t just walk into a place which had live bullets whizzing around.

Only one time have I heard gunfire in Korea. It was while hiking north of Ilsan in Paju County, which is adjacent to the DMZ. Paju’s hiking trails are full of elaborate and well made but unoccupied defensive positions on hilltops, some small and some big enough for artillery, as well as networks of trenches, covered tunnels, dug-out hiding places big enough for vehicles or tanks, and other such things. Continue reading “Post-316: Warning. Live Fire Drills (Incheon)”