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The Literary City, Bucheon

Literary Festivals, Events and Places

Literary festivals

01Suju Literary Festival

Bucheon's most representative literary festival is the Suju Literary Festival celebrating the work of Suju Byun Yeongro (Suju was the poet's pen name.). During the festival, the Suju Literary Awards are presented by the Bucheon Branch of the Writers Association of Korea to the best poems selected from across the country. On average, more than 400 works are submitted each year and 68 poets have been recognized so far.

Diverse side events include the Suju Youth Essay Contest, the Suju Literature Symposium, and the Night of Suju Byun Yeongro, which features a poetry recitation and presentation of critiques.

<Big Book Talk Concert With Poets>
  • 2018 Suju Literary Festival Successfully Held in Honor of Poet ‘Suju’ BYEON Yeong-ro
    • - ‘2018 Suju Literary Festival’ held from October 26-27
    • - Full of things to see and do including the Suju Literary Awards, literature concerts, exhibitions and hands-on experiences
  • The Suju Literary Festival, held to commemorate the career and literary world of Korean poet BYEON Yeong-ro, who famously wrote ‘Nongae,’ came to a close on October 27.
<The Suju Literary Awards: An Evening With Award Winners>

The ‘2018 Suju Literary Festival’ was held from October 26-27 in the lawn plaza outside Bucheon City Hall and the Fantastic Cube. This year the event was expanded to include not only the literature awards ceremony, but a variety of cultural concerts, experiences, exhibits and campaigns as well!

The ‘Eungeun Jam Literature Concert IN Bucheon’ was held as a preliminary event on the 26th, showcasing stories unique to Bucheon through the themes of art and literature. The concert was popular with young literature lovers. The main event, held on the 27th, kicked off with the Suju Forum and featured a variety of activities that approached the life and literature of ‘Suju’ BYEON Yeong-ro from a new perspective.

The ‘Big Book Talk Concert’ held in the lawn plaza outside Bucheon City Hall began with a presentation by poet KIM Yong-taek called ‘What is a Poem?,’ in which he taught local residents how to write everyday poetry. Meanwhile, the ‘Bookshop for Listening to Suju’s Poetry’ event was an exhibition and hands-on experience where visitors could take part in activities including transcribing poems, practicing calligraphy and viewing a display of cartoons in which poems were read.

As the highlight of the festival, the awards ceremony served as an occasion to honor many talented writers through the presentation of the 20th Suju Literary Awards and the 15th Bucheon New Writers Awards. Some local residents were selected to recite the winning poems at the ceremony, and renowned singer KIM Min-young added to the atmosphere by reciting BYEON Yeong-ro’s poem ‘Nongae’ in a Pansori performance.

Bucheon Cultural Foundation head LIM Hye-jin stated “In addition to the Suju Literary Awards, this year’s festival was also designed to make the life and literature of ‘Suju’ BYEON Yeong-ro more accessible to the average person.” She went on to say “With so many locals coming out to enjoy the festival and congratulate the awardees despite the cold weather, it was a great occasion to experience Bucheon’s freshness as a Creative City of Literature.”

02Pearl Buck Festival

Bucheon also hosts the Pearl Buck Festival, a celebration of Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), a world-famous novelist and Nobel laureate. Immediately after the Korean War broke out, Pearl Buck established an orphanage in Bucheon to take care of war orphans and children born between U.S. soldiers and Korean women. The festival was inaugurated in 2006 along with the opening of a memorial hall commemorating her service to the city. An important part of the festival is the Pearl Buck Literary Award and Pearl Buck Community Service Award, which honor the author's contribution to literature and her spirit of volunteerism. The latter awards are presented by the Minister of Gender Equality and Family. In memory of Pearl Buck's service to society, Bucheon strives to protect and promote cultural diversity in view of the social changes taking place in the city.

03Book festival
  • The 17th Bucheon City Book Festival was held in 2017 under the theme of “The Life-changing Power of Literature.” Twelve programs were organized in cooperation with small libraries and school libraries to celebrate Bucheon’s selection as a UNESCO Creative City in Literature.Bucheon City Book Festival has evolved into a leading regional book festival that helps to boost the local economy. There were also a number of programs for families to enjoy together. Notably, six publishing companies belonging to the Korean Publishers Association worked alongside neighborhood bookstores to support the book festival, promoting ties between the local community and the publishing industry and contributing to the regional economy. A total of 4,000 people participated in the festival.
  • Hosted by Bucheon City in association with Bucheon City Library and the Bucheon Association of Small Libraries, the 18th Bucheon Book Festival was held on September 29 in the lawn plaza outside Bucheon City Hall.

    The festival was previously called the ‘Library Culture Party’ up until 2016, but was greatly expanded last year alongside the change in name. Through cooperation between public libraries, private libraries, small libraries, publishers and local bookstores in Bucheon, the festival was planned as an outdoor event so that as many people as possible could participate.

    On the day, the lawn plaza was filled with a variety of fun events including hands-on experience booths, exhibits, programs and special performances that ran from 10am until 5pm. The central stage featured performances including a balloon circus, the Joy brass band, and a book concert with SO Bok-i, author of ‘The Boy’s Heart,’ which won the 2018 Bucheon award for comic books.

    The plaza was filled with visitors checking out the 26 hands-on experience and display booths organized by local bookstores in association with 13 publishers. In particular, the ‘Fairytale Recreation’ and ‘Witch’s Fairytale Narration’ at the private library booth and the ‘Magic Show’ at the Creative City of Literature booth were popular with children visiting the event.

Beloved author KIM Young-ha gave a special lecture at 2pm inside the Eoul Madang on the 2nd floor of City Hall. KIM is known as the author of ‘A Murderer's Guide to Memorization’ and ‘Brother has Returned,’ and has appeared on the TV show ‘Encyclopedia of Useless Facts.’ During the lecture, entitled “The things that happen when we read a novel,” KIM spoke about the role of novels and the positive changes that reading can bring about, drawing from his own experiences with books.

This festival remains one question on the minds of organizers, “What can we do to integrate libraries more closely into the lives of everyday people?” Bucheon City Libraries would continue to seek an answer to this as they planned the book festival each year.

<Kim Young-ha’s lecture in front of a full house>

Literary Events

04Korean Literature as Seen Through the Eyes of Asian Translators

One Year Anniversary of Bucheon’s Designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature

In partnership with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTIK), Bucheon City held Korean Literature as Seen Through the Eyes of Asian Translators on October 12 in the Fantasia Theater at Boksagol Cultural Center. The event was attended by approximately 100 local residents.
This event was organized to commemorate the one year anniversary of Bucheon’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature and promote greater cultural exchange of Korean literature. The event featured a panel of seven leading translators from China, Japan and Vietnam who have translated famous Korean works including ‘The Vegetarian’ (by Han Kang), ‘Hangari’ (by Chung Ho-sung) and ‘Run, Daddy, Run’ (by Kim Ae-ran). The panelists discussed their views on Korean Lliterature.

In the lobby, guests could peruse books donated by the 28 UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world, as well as a selection of translated books hand-picked by LTIK. A number of other unique exhibits were also on display for visitors, including a ‘literature vending machine corner’ and ‘The Big Book of Bucheon, UNESCO City of Literature.’

05Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium Explores the Life and Literature of Pearl S. Buck

The Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall successfully held the 2018 Bucheon Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium on October 31. Under the theme of ‘The Life and Literature of Pearl S. Buck,’ this year’s event was attended by up to 500 local residents and Pearl S. Buck researchers from Korea and abroad, including professors, literary figures and critics.

As this was the first international academic symposium on Pearl S. Buck held in Korea, researchers from the US and China, and officials representing Pearl S. Buck International (PSBI) from the US, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines were also in attendance.

On November 1, the delegation from Pearl S. Buck International and the other foreign presenters took a tour of Bucheon where they visited the Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall, viewed the exhibits and held a meeting. The official schedule ended with an afternoon visit to local cultural exhibits including Bucheon Pottery Museum and Bucheon Art Bunker B39.

Janet L. Mintzer, President & CEO of Pearl S. Buck International, which signed an MOU with Bucheon City in March to promote cultural exchanges related to Pearl S. Buck, stated “We hope to continue working closely with Bucheon to share and promote the values of Pearl S. Buck, in the same way that Buck herself gained strength and courage from identifying with and understanding other cultures.”

This international academic symposium is significant because it is the first time a delegation from Pearl S. Buck International and researchers from both Korea and overseas have gathered together in Bucheon. Based on the foundation of Pearl S. Buck’s cultural legacy, this will serve as an important milestone for Bucheon to grow even further as a global Creative City of Literature.

Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall was built on the former location of the Sosa Opportunity Center, where Buck looked after orphans and mixed race children after the Korean War. The hall opened on September 30, 2006, and has now stood for 12 years.

The following is submitted by KIM Hye-jeong, curator of Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall
- First independent Pearl S. Buck international academic symposium held in Korea

2018 was a busy year for Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall, which was established to inform the world about Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973), the great literary figure who also founded the one-of-a-kind Sosa Opportunity Center in Bucheon to care for mixed race children.

In September 2017, I attended the Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium held in Zhenjiang, China. When I met Buck researchers and officials from organizations around the world, I was impressed by their love and respect for Buck, and the ability of Zhenjiang to organize commemorative events in her honor. I also hoped to hold similar events in Bucheon through the Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall.

A year later, on October 30 2018, the ‘2018 Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium’ was held in association with Bucheon Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall under the theme of ‘The Life and Literature of Pearl S. Buck.’ This served as an occasion for participants to discuss the life and literature of Pearl S. Buck, who pursued cultural diversity through her works and identified as a person of mixed race. The symposium was packed with 600 attendees, including local residents fond of Buck and representatives from six different countries.

- UNESCO Creative City of Literature Bucheon and the Pearl S. Buck Network

Bucheon strengthened its ties to Pearl S. Buck research and memorial work over the past year through the 2017 Zhenjiang Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium, the signing of a business agreement with PSBI in March, the signing of a business agreement with the Zhenjiang Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall in April and the 2018 Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium held in Bucheon in October. The 2018 symposium also saw representatives from six countries (the US, China, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam) gather in Bucheon to commemorate Buck and her spirit.

People to people exchanges with Zhenjiang were of great help in preparing for this year’s symposium. The US-based Pearl S. Buck International (PSBI) and Pearl S. Buck Research Association based in Zhenjiang also played an important role, as did the Korean Pearl S. Buck Research Association and the Korean Pearl S. Buck Foundation.

I believe that building our capacity to globalize Bucheon’s cultural assets is an important part of achieving sustainable development in Bucheon as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature. Through this symposium, Bucheon’s Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall has established itself as part of the international network, and we are now seeking out new projects in cooperation with a variety of regions in the network, including hosting a joint international academic symposium.

Now that the 2018 Pearl S. Buck International Academic Symposium is behind us, there is still a lot of work to do for the Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall. I believe that one important priority is raising awareness about Buck within Korea. The first step towards achieving this is spreading the word about Buck to local residents in Bucheon, which involves setting up mechanisms that promote greater access to her works, and training more researchers to study Buck within Korea.
The greatest benefit that the Bucheon Pearl S. Buck Memorial Hall obtained through this symposium was a network of friends to help promote the life and literature of Buck. Most of the international attendees at the event were visiting Korea for the first time. I hope that they returned home with warm memories and a lasting positive impression of Bucheon.

Literary Places

06Literature map of
Bucheon

The first literature map of Bucheon was published last October.
Libraries, special streets, poetry monuments, and various spots related to literature are highlighted on the map. This is the first edition and we will make a new revised edition every year.
There is a description of each spot on the back of the map.
Visit my city and you could take a tour using this map.

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