go to menu go to contents

The Literary City, Bucheon

Bucheon’s Writers and their Works

JEONG Ji-yong

JEONG Ji-yong

Writer JEONG Ji-yong
Summary A founding father of modern Korean poetry

JEONG Ji-young: A founding father of modern Korean poetry

JEONG Ji-young was able to express the emotions of the people in beautifully-written Korean. From 1943, JEONG lived near the back entrance of Bucheon Sejong Hospital for three years.

A devout Catholic, he played an active role in establishing the city’s first Catholic church.


About Jung Ji-young

Born in 1902, poet JEONG Ji-yong is believed to have died in Pyongyang, which is now located in North korea, in 1950.


JEONG Ji-yong was born in Hagye-ri, Okcheon-eup, Okcheon-gun County, Chungcheongbuk-do Province, on June 20, 1902. He entered Okcheon Elementary School and married Song Jae-suk in 1913. He moved to Seoul, attended Whimoon High School and then published Yoram(요람) in the literary magazine Bulletin. On March 1, 1919, the day of the March First Independence Movement, he was suspended from school for an indefinite period while there were coarse protests on campus. He published Three People(3인) in Seogwang, a literary magazine that began publication in 1919. After graduating from Whimoon High School in 1922, he started poetic activity and was admitted to the department of English literature at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, in 1923. In 1926 he began to concentrate exclusively on composing poetry and his piece Cafe France(Kape peurangseu) was published in the magazine Hakjo.

He graduated from university in 1929 and then was back home in Korea. He started his new post as an English teacher at Whimoon High School and held that appointment until independence. In 1930 he was active as an associate of Poetry magazine(시문학) and in 1933 he aimed at pure literature, emerging as a leading figure of Korean poetry. When he was 34 years old, he published the first book of A Collection of Poems by JEONG Ji-yong. Starting in 1939, he actively wrote prose, such as literary criticisms and travel essays, and published Baek-rok-dam(백록담), his second book of poetry. After the outbreak of the Japan-U.S. war, which worsened the social situation, he went into retirement, suspending all work activity.

independence [1], he was a professor at Ewha Womans University, teaching Korean and Latin, and edited the Kyunghyang Daily News. In 1946, he published Selected Poems by Ji-yong. After the government of the Republic of Korea was established, he resigned as a professor from Ewha Womans University and published Literary Reader(문학독본), living in retirement in his house in Nokbeon-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul. The following year, in February 1949, he published Prose(산문). In 1950, at the onset of the Korean War, he was detained by the Government Preservation Department and then transferred to Pyongyang Prison, where he is believed to have died.

JEONG Ji-yong is considered among the most important poets to emerge from the modernist movement in Korea. KIM Ki-rim, a poet and literary critic, described him as, "the first modern Korean poet.”

He is a poet who set up the decisive foundation for the maturation of modern Korean poetry by expressing novel images and moderate poetic diction.

However, it has been forbidden to publicly mention his poems, as with other writers who were kidnapped and taken to North Korea during the division of Korea. His poetry was allowed only in March 1988 and became known to the public once again. In 1989, the Ji-yong Poetry Literature Award was established and it continues to this day. In 1995, Nostalgia, his representative work, was made into a popular song and released.


[1] After Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule on August 15, 1945, JEONG lived in Bucheon for three years. A devout Catholic, he brought his wife to Bucheon and played an active role in establishing the city’s first Catholic church. A commemorative plaque now stands outside JEONG’s former residence at Sosa-dong 89-14 beon-ji, and a stone tablet enscribed with his poetry was erected in Central Park in front of the Sosabon-dong Community Service Center.


[2] Source: http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/History/view?articleId=134151








Nostalgia, it expresses longing for the homeland and orientation toward paradise. It is also the lyrics to a song that Koreans enjoy singing. Nostalgia is one of JEONG’s most famous poems and a favorite among Koreans, as is the song made with the poem’s lyrics. It is said that the unique emotional expression in this poem opens a channel through which the Korean can reach the ‘hometown inside their hearts.’ Some believe that the poem reminds Koreans of beautiful memories about the origins of life, from those who lived in agrarian and industrialized societies to those living in the modern-day age of information.[1]

JEONG’s poem Nostalgia has been printed in middle school Korean textbooks since 2003, as well as high school writing and literature textbooks. His other works, including HometownThe Sea and The Lake, have also been featured in middle and high school textbooks.





The poetry of Jeong Ji-yong was banned for many years.

In 1988, the Korean government finally lifted the ban on the works of writers who had defected to North Korea, which was a political decision made with the international media in mind ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. The leading theory about JEONG is that he was kidnapped and taken to North Korea during the Korean War, spending the remainder of his days there, but since he had briefly joined a left-wing literary group after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule, he was branded as a defector.

Although the ban was lifted in 1988, JEONG’s poem Nostalgia, which was also used as the lyrics to a popular song, could not even be read aloud in public as recently as the 1980s.


In his early 20s, JEONG studied in a place far away from where he grew up, and Nostalgia is filled with feelings of yearning for his hometown and its scenery and customs. Since he was branded a North Korean defector, JEONG’s works were kept hidden for more than 40 years. However, the tragedy of the Korean War was not confined to JEONG himself. It was also passed down to his children, who are now part of a family separated between North and South Korea. JEONG’s son JEONG Gu-gwan, who lives in South Korea and is now over 85, had the opportunity to meet with his younger sisters Gu-won and Gu-in in Seoul during the third group reunion for separated families held in February in 2001. The siblings embraced and cried when they saw each other. In this way, the pain of modern Korean history is reflected in JEONG’s family history.



[1] Source: Radio Free Asia https://www.rfa.org/korean/in_focus/63947-20010827.html

[2] Source: http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/History/view?articleId=134151


supplementary referencehttp://library.ltikorea.or.kr/node/350








Previous Pearl S. Buck
Next KANG Jung-gyu
상단으로 이동

Be in the know. Subscribe to our newsletter!

Keep bang up to date with what's new at Bucheon UNESCO City of Literature.
Subscribe to our newsletter, and you'll hear all about the latest news, literary events.

  • address181, Sohyang-ro, Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea 14547
  • emailjsy97@korea.kr
  • phone82-32-625-9386
  • phone82-32-625-9386
  • fax82-32-625-9379