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Kim Myŏng-sun, a Pioneering Woman Translator in Colonial Korea: Focusing on Her 1922 Translation of Poe’s The Assignation

  • The Journal of Translation Studies
  • Abbr : JTS
  • 2023, 24(4), pp.9-36
  • DOI : 10.15749/jts.2023.24.4.001
  • Publisher : The Korean Association for Translation Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Interpretation and Translation Studies
  • Received : November 15, 2023
  • Accepted : December 19, 2023
  • Published : December 31, 2023

Jagyeong Kim 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Korean female translators in the colonial period have received relatively little scholarly attention compared to their male counterparts in the field of Korean literary translation studies. Hence, this study aims to spotlight Kim Myŏng-sun, a woman writer who was the first to have translated Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry and novella into the Korean language. Focusing on her 1922 translation of Poe’s The Assignation, retitled as “Sangbong”, this study reflects on Kim Myŏng-sun’s choice of this particular work and her translation approach, especially in relation to her literary perspective. This paper reveals that Kim Myŏng-sun’s decision to translate The Assignation was influenced not only by her admiration for Poe but also because the novella resonated with her own thematic focus as a novelist. These themes include the pursuit of romantic love outside the traditional marriage system, resistance to loveless marriage, negation of maternal affection, and an inevitable tragic ending. The interventions foregrounding such themes are also noteworthy. For example, a poem was slightly changed to accentuate the young male character’s dream of meeting his lover posthumously; the image of the husband as an old womanizer was reinforced; original expressions of maternal love were deleted; and death was described impressively, with expressions added to the translation. This shows that translation was an extension of her literary acts as a writer, calling due attention to neglected female translators in the early modern history of Korea.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.