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ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)
S/N Korean Humanities Vol.3 No.2 pp.31-49

Hŏ Nam-ki and His Poetry

Son Jiwon
Korea University of Japan


Hŏ Nam-ki (1918∼88) is one of the most significant poets of the twentieth-century Korean-Japanese literature. Born in Kup’o, South Kyŏngsang Province, Hŏ Nam-ki crossed the Korea Strait and landed in Japan in 1939. After welcoming liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule at the Tachikawa Airfield’s repair factory in Tokyo, the poet composed “Hands” in 1946 to express the happiness of liberation and “Children, This Is Our School” in 1948. He also portrayed his unwavering spirit as a poet in “Dagger.” In 1959, Hŏ became the visiting chairman of the Union of Korean Writers and Artists in Japan, an organization established during the same year. In 1975, he visited P’yŏngyang for the first time. In works such as Toward the Motherland (1962), “Stories Etched in Stones” (1966), “Naktong River” (1978), and Revering the Sky of My Homeland (1980), the poet portrayed the hopes and lives of the Koreans living in Japan, and sang of his beloved motherland. In addition to poetry, Hŏ also wrote plays and film scripts. To educate his Japanese friends on Korean culture, he translated classical Korean literature such as “The Tale of Ch’unhyang” into Japanese and engaged in activities that were meant to encourage friendly relations between Korea and Japan. Until his death at the age of seventy, Hŏ Nam-ki remained a prolific writer, leaving behind him more than thirty opuses.