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Syndic Literary Journal

Lost Alleys 

 Written by Kim Kooseul

Translated from the Korean by Darcy Paquet

Narrated by Bill Wolak

South Korea


A lot of stories are hidden in the alleys.

The alleys of childhood

were extraordinarily narrow and labyrinthine.

They were not such as to be called the alleys;

Those of narratives

filled with murmurs.


The first day when I was transferred to the primary school in Seoul,

I could not but draw winding alleys,

asked by the principal to make a map from home to school.

I still remember the look on his face

embarrassed by the naiveté of a little girl.


Like this, my childhood in Seoul began

alongside the uphill alley;

it was the alley of grief through which I tried to get over

the vernacular accent and the gap of study from the transfer.

Ah, I passed the alleys of love and sorrow of my younger days.


The cold room where my sisters and I were absorbed in literature

was also a long alley like a train.

Life is an alley:

When going along the winding and sobbing river

of love, tears, hope and frustration

toward the alleys flowing narrow and low

I feel like I can recover my time lost.


Kim Kooseul  is a South Korean poet, scholar and translator.  Here latest book translated into English is Lost Alleys, Mundus Artium Press, 2020. She has earned numerous major prizes and honors. A specialist in English and other literary traditions, she is a Professor Emeritus at Hyupsung University. The publisher of Lyric Poetry and Poetics, she is the organizer of the Changwon KC International Literary Prize and the KS World Poetry Festival. Her work has been translated into many languages.
Darcy Paquet is a film critic and translator who has been living in South Korea since 1997. He has translated the subtitles for over 150 Korean films including Parasite (2019). The author of New Korean Cinema: Breaking the Waves (Columbia University Press), he teaches at the Busan Asia Film School and has also taught a media translation workshop at the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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