Poet, translator, Dr. Byeong Cheol Kang:

Efforts made to bring Vietnamese literature to the RoK

Poet, and translator, Dr. Byeong Cheol Kang from the Republic of Korea (RoK) has a special affection for Vietnam. His visit to Vietnam in December 2022 drastically changed his action towards Vietnam. Accordingly, he devoted much effort to translating and publishing Vietnamese poetry in the RoK.
The RoK's poet and translator, Dr. Byeong Cheol Kang (right)
The RoK's poet and translator, Dr. Byeong Cheol Kang (right)

Q: When did you first hear about Vietnam?

A: I visited Vietnam for the first time from November 4 to 6, 2011. At that time, as a scholar, I attended the third international scientific conference themed “East Sea/South China Sea - Cooperation on security and development in the region", held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV).

Vietnam is a dynamic country and Vietnamese people talk to me like I am Vietnamese. I asked why they thought I was Vietnamese and they said “you look like a rich Vietnamese”. Then I thought my ancestors were probably Vietnamese.

Q: At that time, did you try to read any works about Vietnam?

A: That year I read documents about Vietnam's maritime boundaries. I have had to study very hard so I did not have the opportunity to meet many people. I don't have any Vietnamese friends living in the RoK yet, but I have written books and translated many articles about Vietnam. I think I will try to find and make friends with Vietnamese people in the RoK.

Q: Since you participated in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the RoK and Vietnam in December 2022, at the Vietnam Writers' Association, how many Vietnamese authors have you introduced in the RoK’s cultural newspaper NewsnJeju? How did those poems receive readers’ feedback?

A: I have introduced many works by 25 Vietnamese authors to Korean readers. Readers are very interested in Vietnamese works because the two countries have similar traditional moral values such as loyalty to the fatherland, ancestor worship and obedience to parents, although some values are changing in modern times.

Q: Do you have any plans to strengthen the relationship between Korean and Vietnamese authors?

A: I just had a conversation with Jang Geon-seob, a poet and journalist from the RoK. He has worked hard to strengthen the relations between writers of the two countries over the past years. I gave thanks to him for what he did for the friendship between our two countries. I will cooperate with and support his plans, as well as do my best to bring Vietnamese literary works to the RoK’s readers.

Q: Do you think Vietnamese authors can participate in the RoK’s awards? Would you be willing to introduce those literary events to Vietnamese authors?

A: This is a good idea. It will help strengthen the relationship between Vietnamese and Korean writers. I will discuss this matter with Jang Geon-seob, Editor-in-Chief of Miraellbo newspaper.

Thank you very much!

Byeong Cheol Kang was born in Jeju City of the RoK in 1964. He started writing in 1993 and also in the same year, published his first book of short stories and his next collection of short stories in 2005. To date, he has published 8 books and won 4 literary awards. He used to be an editor for NewsnJeju newspaper, which is based in Jeju City, a professor at the National Defense Research Institute of Chungnam National University and a former exceptional professor at Jeju International University.