Korean literature explores possibilities in world markets

Over the past several decades, Korean literature was, for the most part, unknown to casual Western readers with many of the translated works available being restricted to the turbulent era surrounding the 1950-53 Korean War and its legacy.

But things have changed in recent years. Korean literature has risen in stature on the global scene with its unique yet universal themes.

“These days, foreign literary agents pore over our PR materials on Korean authors and their books with some asking for information on specific works before we introduce them,” Joseph Lee, president of the KL Management, the Korean literary agency behind the overseas buzz caused by Korean writer Han Kang’s “Vegetarian,” told Yonhap News Agency.

The situation is a stark contrast to just 10 years ago when he had to dial every agent that might be interested in publishing books by Korean writers. To his disappointment, the answer was “No, we’re not” in many cases.

In this photo released by the Associated Press on May 17, 2016, Han Kang, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International prize for fiction, poses for a photo after winning the award for her book "The Vegetarian" after the award ceremony in London on May 16. (Yonhap)

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