Once again, readers will discover a rich and varied array of contemporary Korean literary and image work in the current issue of Azalea journal. We celebrate the 100th anniversary of the births of two of the twentieth century’s great Korean writers, Midang Sŏ Chŏngju, the poet, and Hwang Sunwŏn, the short story and novel writer. Periodically, as the cultural, political, and historical tides in Korea have fallen and risen only to fall and rise again, these two writers have been lionized, denigrated, taken as emblems of Korea’s literary capabilities and accomplishments, or set to the side as passé, out-of-sync, politically unacceptable, or just too old to matter. Yet readers will find a rich array of reflections on these two writers and examples of their literary accomplishments. May you savor and treasure. Let us resolve to keep these writers central to our understanding of the terrain that Korean literature traversed in the twentieth century and to comprehend how much it would lose if it did not value, even treasure, these and others in the twenty-first.
Then we find writers who have taken the stage in the twentyfirst century, now already a century since Sŏ Chŏngju and Hwang Sunwŏn were born. Contemporary fiction from our featured writer, Lee Eyunkee, whose work gives a new, contemporary meaning to that term, is followed by the work of a series of poets and other fiction writers of today, as well as a nostalgic glance back at the twentieth-century poet Chŏng Chiyong.
Readers are invited once again to savor the results of Chicago’s Sejong Cultural Society’s annual sijo-writing contest. Nearly one thousand entries came in, from all over. It is a pleasure to see the enthusiasm for the sijo growing among younger writers in their English-language practice of the form and to be able to make room for their works in our journal. One hundred years from now, may Korean poetry and fiction, graphic arts, photography, and yes, the sijo, be more widely known and ever more deeply appreciated.
Finally, we are grateful for the encouragement and support that the International Communication Foundation has provided to Azalea’s growth and vitality as a literary journal dedicated to these ends. Yet we join with the Foundation and with family members in sadness at the passing last year of Dr. Yeo Seok-ki, the Foundation’s president. A dedicated visionary in seeking to encourage the wider and deeper appreciation of Korean literature, Dr. Yeo was also a nimble raconteur and conversationalist. I enjoyed the luncheon meetings that I was fortunate to have with him over the years, as well as the more formal communications regarding workshops and other program initiatives. He was always there, and he will bein our thoughts, memories, and hearts.
David R. McCann
April, 2015, in Watertown