문학, 아시아와 어떻게 만나고 있는가 - 「베트남을 이해하려는 젊은 작가들의 모임」에서 '2007 아시아아프리카문학페스티벌-전주'까지
How To Meet ASIA through literature - from a small NGO for Vietnam to AALF -
In November, 2007, there was held a festival titled as AALF(ASIA AFRICA LITERATURE FESTIVAL) in Jeonju. “A Marvelous Encounter” was the subtitle. That event was held with purposes 1)to construct the cultural interchane through literary energy, 2)to create a literary network, 3)to understand and discuss about the real globalization through literature. In short, all the participants from above 60 countries agreed to meet all together in Korea to prepare and establish the new paradigm for the world literature. It will be recorded as a historical momentum in the history of Korean literature, not only because it was the first time for us, Korean writers and readers, to have an opportunity to invite almost 100 foreign writers at a time, but also because (this is more important) all the invited writers were from Asia and Africa. Among them, maybe a lot of writers were the first writer who visit Korea personally or on behalf of their country for example including writers from Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan. Through that event Korean literature had a chance to introduce our literature to them and to discover the variegated nature of their literatures once called as the 3rd world. But at the same time it brought a chance for them to understand Korean Literature for the first time or better than ever. In short, it was a rare opportunity for us “to discover them and to be discovered by them”. After then Korean literature cannot neglect their real existences any more in comparing with Western literature. Even though AALF was a historical milestone in the history of Korean literature, we must remember another small group of writers who contributed in stepping the first step to the untrodden territories of Asian literature. In 1995, a few Korean writers who were interested in the 3rd world literature made a new start of a small NGO named Young Korean Writers Solidarity for Vietnam. It was the first NGO by Korean writers which purposed to try to understand Asian literature more well. They selected Vietnam as a first partner. It was also meaningful because Vietnam is a country which had a special historical relationship with Korea. From that time a lot of Korean writers also tried to open their minds to Asia and Asian literature. As a result, now we became to get some more NGOs including NGOs for Palestine, Burma, Mongolia. But frankly speaking, we are still lack of experiences to meet Asia without prejudices. Which is the best way to understand Asia and Asian literature? Among those prejudices for example there is a kind of orientalism about Asian literature. By doing so, we have neglected Asian literature as a whole, and that kind of attitude in front of Asian literature have hindered our eyes to understand the real value of it. From now on, we must reconsider ourselves once more in front of Asia and Asian literature. To understand Asia is to understand ourselves.
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