23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Moon Chung-hee
© Nobless

Moon Chung-hee

Moon Chung-hee was born in Posŏng in 1947 and grew up in Seoul. Even as a schoolgirl, she won several prizes for her poems, which she already began publishing as a child. She was the first woman in Korea to publish her poetry independently. In addition, she received lessons from a master of Korean poetry, Sŏ Chŏng-ju. During her studies at Dongguk University, she was named as »Best Young Talent« (1969) by the monthly magazine »Wolgan munkak.« Since then, she has published over sixty volumes of poems, lyrical plays, essays etc. Her works have been translated into nine languages.

In 2007, the volume »Mohnblumen im Haar« (tr: Poppy Flowers in the Hair) appeared in German. The book summarizes 135 poems written by Chung-hee between 1991 and 2004 as a way of tracing her development as a poet. The poems are almost entirely melancholic, conveying human emotional experiences and the confusion of self-awareness against the background of nature. In places, however, anger and sadness are intertwined to create provocative images. The family and their respective ages are given special attention – from the old, worn mother to the newborn child. Amazement and resignation alternate, and behind everything is the knowledge of the transience of the living. Many texts focus on the subject of oppression of women and their sexuality in not just traditional, but also in Christian Korea, as well as the sad awareness of the transience of female beauty. »Spend time in bed with a poppy in your hair instead of behind your desk«. Not only are female in the limelight; Chung-hee also writes about male experiences within the family structure: »Men / who become the father of a daughter / say goodbye to the animal / which growls in them. / […] They understand that God / was born in the same way as children / and blush with shame.«

Chung-hee has received numerous national and international awards for her work, including the Hyundae Literary Award, the Korea Culture and Arts Grand Prize, the Samsung Award for Creative Women, the Macedonian Poet Prize of 2004, and the Swedish Cikadapriset. She has participated in many international literary symposiums at US universities, but also in Italy and Sweden. In addition to her own writing, she also translates poetry into Korean. Chung-hee is the head of the Korean Poets Society and works as a professor at Dongguk University in Seoul.


Woman on the Terrace

White Pine Press

Buffalo, 2007

[Ü: Seong-kon Kim u. Alec Gordon]

I Must Be the Wind

White Pine Press

Buffalo, 2014

[Clare You u. Richard Silberg]

Die Mohnblume im Haar

Edition Peperkorn

Thunum, 2007

[Ü: Sophia TjonghiSeo u. Margret Stradal]

Celle qui mangeait le riz froid

Editions Bruno Doucey

Paris, 2012

[Ü: Hyun-ja Kim]

Yo soy Moon

Huerga y Fierro

Madrid, 2014

[Ü: Kyungah Jeon]