Poet Jang Geon – Seob expresses willingness to spread Vietnamese literature to RoK

As soon as Vietnam fully reopened tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic, the poet and editor Jang Geon-Seob from the Republic of Korea (RoK) immediately booked a flight to Vietnam. Despite hot weather during June, he travelled to many cities to meet literary friends and discuss his plans for literary cooperation and exchange between the two countries.

Poet Jang Geon – Seob (right) and Vietnamese artists, writers and poets (Photo: NDO)
Poet Jang Geon – Seob (right) and Vietnamese artists, writers and poets (Photo: NDO)

Jang Geon – Seob is an energetic person, holding many roles at the same time and publishing around 350 literary book titles each year.

Before coming to Vietnam in early June 2022, Jang Geon – Seob sent me the image of a large blue stone monument in a park in the RoK which was engraved with an inscription commemorating the meeting and unification of cooperation between the Vietnam Writers' Association and the RoK’s Modern Poetry Association. In March 2019, the two associations signed a memorandum of understanding. After that, 13 Vietnamese poets were invited to visit and work in the RoK. Jang Geon - Seob affirmed that his publishing house is ready to publish Vietnamese literary books after Vietnam has translated the works into Korean. In 2019, the publishing house published an anthology of 30 Vietnamese and Korean poets.

It is known that the RoK’s Modern Poetry Association has operated for 50 years. During his visit to Vietnam this year, poet Jang Geon - Seob affirmed that the association would like to invite more and more Vietnamese poets to visit the RoK to closely connect and enhance understanding between poets from the two countries towards effective and sustainable cooperation. Jang Geon - Seob also shared that he has a close relationship with the Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK, so he has always easily gotten useful information about Vietnam and has often been invited to attend Vietnam’s events in the country. As a reputable journalist, Jang Geon – Seob has a green card to enter the President’s house and parliament house when necessary. As such, during the visit of the 13 Vietnamese poets to the RoK, he led the delegation to visit the presidential palace.

Jang Geon – Seob is also a member of Korea PEN, which was established in 1955 and has over 1,300 members. Korea PEN is sponsored by the Korean Government. Its annual forums have invited many famous poets and writers from around the world, including Nobel laureates. The events have contributed to raising the Korean brand and received the great support from the Government. Korea PEN will hold the eighth forum in Gyong-Ju City in November this year. Jang Geon – Seob has promised to invite 3-4 Vietnamese writers and poets to attend the event.

Standing in the streets in Hanoi and witnessing the bustling traffic and trade activities, Jang Geon – Seob felt that the pandemic has never swept over here. He thought that this had been reflected deeply by literature. He confided to his Vietnamese friends that he loved Vietnam the most out of the 43 countries he had travelled. He asked Vietnamese writers and poets to translate their works into Korean and send them to him to be released in the RoK.

Jang Geon - Seob also said Koreans can go to Vietnam without a visa, but Vietnamese still must get a visa to travel to the RoK. Therefore, he hopes that the Korean side will remove the visa regime for Vietnamese visitors to the RoK. Jang Geon - Seob said that he will meet with the RoK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make this bold proposal in the near future.

Although he has visited Vietnam dozens of times, Jang Geon - Seob said he will continue to come to Vietnam every year. Having set foot in more than 40 countries around the world, he has a special affection for Vietnam. Therefore, he will do his best to promote the relationship between the Vietnam Writers' Association and the RoK’s Modern Poetry Association. According to him, the two countries’ cultures share many similarities.

Translated by NDO