SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Translating Korean Literature (PG)

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

This module explores different ways of reading, analysing and translating diverse forms of Korean literature. It examines issues surrounding the practice and activity of literary translation, and offers students the opportunity to develop their interpretative strategies and awareness of different literary translation styles. The syllabus combines practical translation exercises with critical analyses of context, method, and their socio-political and cultural implications. Students will be assigned different genres of literary texts (prose, poetry and fiction) in Korean to translate into English and present at weekly seminars. The informal presentations will form the basis for group discussions on topical issues and theories, translation methods and techniques, and for sharing constructive feedback. Diligent assignment preparations and active seminar participation will also help students expand their knowledge of sophisticated grammatical structures, literary styles, idioms and expressions.

This is a compulsory module for the exit award in MA Korean Studies (Literature), but can also be taken as an option on other MA programmes. Prior knowledge of Korean literature is not required, but students must have advanced language proficiency in Korean (see Prerequisites).


15PJKC016 Readings in Korean Literature (Masters) OR TOPIK level 5/6, or equivalent level of competence in Korean

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. demonstrate developed skills, methods and techniques in reading, analysing and translating Korean literature;
  2. demonstrate knowledge of a good range of Korean literary expressions, idioms and vocabulary, and different ways of rendering them effectively into English;
  3. identify and use relevant reference materials and critical sources for discussing and translating Korean literary works into English;
  4. demonstrate intellectual perspectives on practices, activities, and strategies for translating diverse genres of Korean literature from different periods and contexts.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with a 2 hour seminar per week.

Scope and syllabus

There is no set syllabus for this module, but a list of texts and topics will be made available from the convenor at the beginning of the module each academic year. It will combine the practice of translation with critical analyses of context, strategy, method, and their socio-political and cultural implications. In the seminars, students will be introduced to different issues and theories, present their translation work and method, and engage in practical exercises and group discussions on key topics. Different genres of literary texts will be assigned for translation.

Method of assessment

A portfolio of translation texts (2,000 - 2,500 words in total) assigned during the module to be submitted on the last day of the term in which the module is taught (40%); translation of a Korean literary text (2,500 - 3,000) into English with a commentary, due on day 1, week 1 of the following term (50%); a 15-20 minute oral presentation of a translation text, with a hand-out summarising the main points (10%).

Suggested reading

Suggested Reading (Translation Studies and Theory)

  •  Articles from <번역학연구> (The Journal of Translation Studies) published by the Korean Association of Translation Studies (KATS)
  • Apter, Emily.The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Baker, Mona. In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, c. 1992.
  • Bassnett, Susan and Lefevre, André. Constructing Cultures: Essays on Literary Translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1998.
  • Bellos, David. Is That A Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything. New York: Faber and Faber, 2011.
  • Katan, David. Translating Cultures. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing, 2004.
  • Lefevere, André. Translation Literature: Practice and Theory in a Comparative Literature Context. Modern Languages Association, 1992.
  • Landers, Clifford E. Literary Translation: A Practical Guide. Clevedon; Buffalo: Multilingual Matters, c.2001.
  • Newmark, Peter. A Textbook of Translation. New York: Prentice-Hall International, 1988.
  • Nida, Eugene. Contexts in Translating. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Publishing Co., 2001.
  • Walkowitz, Rebecca L. The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Litrerature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

 (Reference materials) 

  • Hanʼguk Munhwa Yesul Wiwŏnhoe (Arts Council Korea), ed. 100-yŏn ŭi munhak yongŏ sajŏn 100년의문학용어사전. Seou: Asia, 2008.
  • Song Ki Joong. Glossary of Korean Culture 한·영우리문화용어집. Seoul: Chimundang, 2001.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules