|Participants in the 52nd Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards pose during a ceremony at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, Wednesday. From left are Korea Times President-Publisher Oh Young-jin; Park Tae-young, deputy minister for culture and art policy; judge Jung Ha-yun, a professor from Ewha Womans University; Poetry Grand Prize Winner Joanne Park; Fiction Grand Prize Winner Youngjae Joesphine Bae; judge Brother Anthony, professor emeritus at Sogang University; judge Min Eun-kyung, a professor at Seoul National University; and Lee Woo-yeul, senior executive vice president and chief human resource officer at KB Financial Group. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Star author Lee Jung-myung reads an excerpt from his latest bestseller 'Broken Summer'
By Kwak Yeon-soo
A winner of the 52nd Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards took on the issue of humans vs. artificial intelligence (AI) in translation, Wednesday, sparking an intellectual debate about whether machines can replace humans in literary translation.
Joanne Park, who won the Grand Prize in poetry for her translation of Yu Hyoung-jin's poems, shared her candid thoughts on the future for literary translators and how they must reinvent their profession to win the battle against AI translation services.
"Recently there has been much discussion about whether AI will replace human translators and surpass them at translation. Some say people's jobs will be very secure when it comes to literary translation, but I'm not so sure about that," Park said during the award ceremony held at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul.
"In terms of translation accuracy, AI may be better than humans. But languages are complex and nuanced, and there are extra-linguistic factors such as context or emotional output that need to be taken into consideration. There's creative aspects of translation with which AI has yet to catch up."
Youngjae Josephine Bae was this year's Grand Prize winner in fiction, awarded by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, for her translation of Park Hyoung-su's "The Tall Dwarf."
Bae thanked the original author, judges, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) Translation Academy as well as her parents.
"If it wasn't for the translation academy, I wouldn't be here. As a newbie literary translator, this award means a lot to me," Bae said, adding The Korea Times translation award acts as a gateway for many aspiring professional translators.
Fiction Commendation Award winner Clare Richards, who translated Kim Keum-hee's "Half of His Egg Muffin," could not attend the ceremony.
The three judges were Brother Anthony, also known as An Son-jae, professor emeritus at Sogang University, Ewha Womans University professor Jung Ha-yun and Seoul National University professor Min Eun-kyung, who selected this year's winners after long discussions.
On behalf of all the judges, Jung welcomed a new generation of Korean literary translators.
"We realized that there is a shift in generation in the translation field of work. Many young translators are bilingual and capable in literary writing," she said. "However, there was a dilemma in the reviewing process ― some Korean literary works we would like to promote overseas had inadequate translation and we weren't sure if the original works of good translation were those we wanted to introduce to our global readers."
Jung asked aspiring translators to contemplate what they are going to translate separately from how they are going to translate.
|Novelist Lee Jung-myung recites an excerpt from his latest book, 'Broken Summer,' during the award ceremony for the 52nd Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
The Korea Times President-Publisher Oh Young-jin stressed the importance of promoting Korean literature abroad and nurturing it into one of the country's biggest cultural exports.
"I'm proud to say that for over half a century, the Korea Times has been at the forefront of promoting Korean literature abroad," Oh said. "Besides BTS and Squid Game, Korean literature holds the potential to trigger the imagination and captivate global citizens."
Deputy Minister for Culture and Arts Policy Park Tae-young delivered Culture Minister Hwang Hee's congratulatory message.
"We appreciate The Korea Times' efforts to support Korean literature reach a wider audience," he said.
"In addition to collaborating with the private sector, like in The Korea Times' Translation Award, the government is making efforts to cultivate new talents. We are planning to build a digital platform to allow more people to attend the LTI Korea Translation Academy. We are also looking to create a specialized training institution for aspiring translators."
Author Lee Jung-myung, well-known for his historical fiction "Painter of the Wind" and "The Deep-rooted Tree" that were both made into hit TV series, joined the ceremony to congratulate the translators and recited an excerpt from his latest novel "Broken Summer."
"Seeing how diverse players' efforts come together to globalize Korean literature, I feel proud of writing in Korean," Lee said
"Broken Summer," released in May, has been translated into English by Brother Anthony.
This year's ceremony was hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KB Financial Group.