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Korean War Poems

Here are selected four poems I feel best reflect the Korean War. They are written by famous Korean writers, so I feel that you will enjoy them.

By: Kim So-Wol

If you grow sick of me
That you would wish to go,
Iíll let you go gently, without a word.
On Seoul the warfield
Iíll pluck an armful of soldiers
And strew them in your path.
Tread gently
On these grounds
That deck your parting steps.
If you grow so sick of me
That you would wish to go,
Though I die, Iíll shed no tears. 

Kim So-Wol defected from earlier and popular Chinese writings, creating a so-called style of his own. He is very respected writer in his native South Korea. Born in 1902, he gained popularity in 1925 with his persuasive essay "Sihon". "Warfield" is widely seen as one his best work on a subject, as it reflects the Korean War tragedy.

Sea of Immortality
By: Chong Chi-Yong, Kim Ki-Rim

The wind flaps like a tent
Now that the enemy has crossed.
White water bundling up; paduk stones
Tumbling, tumbling down
The sea skylark soars: silver drops its
Vigilant half the day
To claw, to scavange red flesh.
A shell, azalea hued, takes the sun
In a seaweed smelling rock crevice,
While a sea swallow on wing slide
Glides in a plate-glass sky.
Seaósee right, right down
Green as bamboo leaves as the men approach,
What do they look like running through the fields?
Thick thickets of pine and bamboo?
What do they look like firing their guns?
A crouching Tiger, the enemy
Draped in a blanket, thrown away.
Spotted yellow and black?
And you, my friend, take some such scene,
A white
Smoke comes like
And voyage far, far away.

Chong and Kim collaborated to bring what is widely accepted as one of the best pieces in Korean literature. Using what is called 'imagist' writings, they helped be a part of a new literary movement throughout Korea. Both men have since retreated to a private life, Chong only releasing one more collection of poems called "Sentiments of Korea"

Pride of Korea
By: Kim Mij-Sow

As we walk through the motherland,
She stares laughing, blowing kisses beneath our feet,
The love she gives will never diminish into oblivion.
We will fight for her against all oppressors,
She will determine the fate of all cowards,
She brings a spark out of all her children,
Her meadows are endless,
Yet they are what we have chosen to die for.
Hail Hail Korea, in all of her majesty.

Born in Seoul, South Korea in 1925, Kim Mij-Sow is a lesser known poet in historic sense, but gives great work. He wrote about such social issues as riots and, in this case, the Korean War, up until he died in December of 1961. He was popular in the 1940's, and has since increased his popularity.

Door to Liberation
By: So Chong-ju

So hushed was the southern sky,
The sky that was ready for war,
An orchid was like the budding new country,Itís petals shining for the liberated people
Wide open for new hope.

Born in 1915, So Chong-ju was, and is a great celebrity in Korea. Wondering when the allies would win. Why should we fight for this cause? Opened the door to opurtunity and freedom Regarded as the father of modern Korean Poetry, he often writes about his native land, such as his province of Cholla. In this case, however, he took time for the Korean War. Chong-ju is often compared to Yeats, or even Baudelaire, because he shares a similar style.

Through these poems, I hope I have helped you understand the Korean War, and what it means to the countrymen of Korea. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions regarding the origin or analysis of these poems, I would be happy to help. Just e-mail me, I'm Richard.