Seoul Literary Forum Aims to Leap over Boundaries

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), September 15, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Seoul Literary Forum Aims to Leap over Boundaries


``Boundaries must be erased through the free flow of ideas and literature is the familiar vehicle upon which they ride.'' These are the words of eminent Nigerian novelist Wole Soyinka in his paper to be presented at the 2000 Seoul International Forum for Literature.

Under the theme, ``Writing Across Boundaries: Literature in the Multicultural World,'' the literary forum will be held at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts, downtown Seoul, on Sept. 26-28, hosted by the Daesan Foundation.

Besides Wole Soyinka, who won the 1986 Nobel Literature prize for his work``Swamp Dwellers,'' 18 other prominent literary figures will take part, including 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Gary Snyder, French sociologist/writer Pierre Bourdieu, Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare, British novelist Margaret Drabble and Japanese critic Kojin Karatani.

The foreign participants represent the world's six largest language groups -- English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.

On the other hand, 56 Korean writers will sit together with them. They include celebrated poets Kim Jie-ha and Ko Un, and prolific and well-known novelists Lee Mun-yol and Park Wan-suh.

It is the first time for Korea to host such a large-scale literary forum with the participation of over a score of such world-renowned writers. Daesan originally sought to host the forum in 1998 but postponed it because the nation was hit by the worst-ever financial crisis.

Prof. Kim U-chang of Korea University, head of the organizing committee for the forum, said, ``No writer should feel like a member of a marginal country. They should be confident when writing. At the forum, along with showing to the world the Korean perspective and the richness of Korean literary works, we want to declare that all nations are equal in the literary and intellectual realm.''

``We hope this forum will serve as a turning point for Korean writers to expand the borders of their consciousness to include the world and for foreign writers to expand theirs to include Korea,'' he said.

The three-day forum is made up of nine sub-themes, such as ``Writers Among Conflicting Loyalties,'' ``Writing in the Time of Epochal Transition,'' ``Writing in the West and Non-West,'' and 14 discussion sessions.

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