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The Literary City, Bucheon

Bucheon’s Writers and their Works

MOK Il-sin

MOK Il-sin

Writer MOK Il-sin
Summary Korea's leading author of children's literature

Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling, out of the way!


MOK Il-sin , a poet with a childlike spirit


A Bicycle by Mok Il-sin


Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling, out of the way!

Bicycle speeding, ting-a-ling-a-ling.

There goes that old man, old Mr. Bentback,

wavering to and fro, until disaster strikes.


Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling, out of the way!

Bicycle speeding, ting-a-ling-a-ling.

Wobbling, wavering, over the hill,

speeding up the incline.


Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling, this bicycle

was bought by his father, he says,

riding miles and miles along country lanes,

rocking, riding, that bicycle.


Translated by AN Seon-jae (Brother Anthony)




These are the lyrics of ‘Bicycle’, a nursery rhyme written by MOK Il-sin(睦一信, 1913-1986) that is engraved on a stone tablet in Bucheon Central Park and is a familiar sight to local residents. ‘Bicycle’ was written by Mok in 1926 at the age of 13 when he was just a schoolboy (a 5th grader under the current Korean school system). It was published in May 1931. The current form of the song, which is more widely known, was completed about a year later when MOK was a middle school student, thanks to the melody composed by KIM Dae-hyun.


The inspiration for the lyrics to ‘Bicycle’ came from the bicycle MOK rode to school every day, which belonged to his father, a pastor. At this young age, MOK and Kim created this piece together as a writer/composer duo, and ‘Bicycle’ became one of the most famous early nursery rhymes in Korea.


Later on, a part of the lyrics was changed when the rhyme was included in national music textbooks. The amended lyrics included changing “jjirereung jijireureung” (ring ring) to “ddareureung ddareureung” (also ring ring) and “jeogi ganeun jeo yeonggam...” (that inspiration walking over there) to “jeogi ganeun jeo saram...” (that person walking over there).


MOK’s hometown is Goheung in South Jeolla Province. In 1929, he took part in the Gwangju Student Independence Movement during his second year at middle school and was arrested by Japanese police, spending a month in prison. From 1960, he lived in a religious settlement Beombak-dong in Sosa-gu, Bucheon, and wrote mainly essays. He also wrote Beombak-dong Street around this time.


MOK’s lifetime works include over 400 nursery rhymes and folk songs including Bicycle, Who is Sleeping?, Lullaby and Soap Bubbles. He passed away in 1986 at the age of 72 while living at 14 Beonji, Beombak-dong in Sosa-gu, behind where Ilsin Elementary School is currently located.


To commemorate MOK, Bucheon erected a stone tablet of his poetry in Central Park in October 2000, while a memorial sculpture in the suburb where he lived, Beombak-dong, was built in 2015. In October 2000, the Bucheon Culture Center also published a collection of MOK’s nursery rhymes, titled ‘Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling, out of the way!’. In addition to this, the ‘Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling Culture Festival’ was held from 2008-2011, but has unfortunately not been organized since then.


In 2003, the jointly established Bucheon Ilsin Elementary School and Bucheon Ilsin Middle School both adopted MOK’s name to pay tribute to his legacy. On the 30th anniversary of MOK’s death (October 7, 2016), the inaugural ‘Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling Culture & Arts Festival’ was held in the Han Gil Art Hall at Bucheon University. During the event, 12 of MOK’s works were performed by a choir of students from Ilsin Elementary School, including eight nursery rhymes and four encore songs, providing a deeply moving experience for the audience.

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