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CIRCA:
How have the personal isolations and restrictions we’ve faced in the last year affected you? Have they changed your outlook at all?

SOJUNG JUN:
The virus that has spread around the world has again strengthened border controls and brought to the surface all kinds of hate and discriminatory issues. Isn’t today a time when the values that were believed to be right—the direction of science and technology, the attitude toward nature, growth and progress—were challenged all at once? I personally believe that isolation and restriction have slowed down the pace, delayed judgment, and helped develop the flexibility to expand my thoughts in all directions. Last year, I spent a lot of time imagining the eyes, both in the forms of mechanical devices and sensory organs, experiencing the accelerated mediated sensations in prolonged non-contact situations. Looking at the images transmitted by drones from the other side of the world, I'm curious about vertigo, or the experience of converting the corporeal senses of humans into those of objects.

In Early Arrival of Future, Uhm Eun-kyung plays an arrangement of Mother and Sister, a piece of folk poetry written by Kim Sowol.

Kim Sowol (1902-1934), whose real name was Kim Jeong-Sik, is one of the most prominent and beloved poets in Korea. He is commonly called by his pen name "Sowol," which he used for his published works. Despite his rather short-lived life of 33 years, he is considered a national poet who expressed the sentiments of Koreans through a most Korean-style voice, and conveyed the sorrow of Koreans and the agony of intellectuals during a dark period in Korean history under Japanese rule. With about 150 poems he left, Sowol and his poems have constantly been beloved by Koreans across generations.

Kim Sowol was most active as a poet in 1922, in which he was transferred to Pai Chai Hakdang. He published his poems “Golden Grass” and “O Mother, O Sister” in the January 1922 issue of the literary magazine Gaebyeok. His most representative and widely known poem “Azaleas” was also published in the July 1922 issue thereof, while he attended Pai Chai Hakdang. He released about 50 poems in 1922 only, and it seems that he was also engaged with Na Do-Hyang (a graduate of Pai Chai Hakdang of 1918), a novelist, at around this time.

As a member of the literature club, Kim Sowol released an array of poems and writings in the school magazine Pai Chai. This school magazine of Pai Chai Higher Common School published by the Pai Chai Student Youth Association had students’ literature works, editorials, school news and a status report, showing the perception of reality and a sense of social calling of the students at that time. Seven poems of Kim were published in Pai Chai Issue 2, including "Snow Falls", "A Little Cuckoo" and "Silken Mist". At this time, Kim composed many poems about the nature while translating works of western literature.

Azaleas, Kim Sowol’s sole collection of poetry, and his major works

His only collection of poetry “Azaleas” (Registered Cultural Heritage No. 470-2; First edition published on December 26, 1925) was published in 1925, when he was 24 years old. Including his major poems, Azaleas contains 126 poems, which Koreans can empathise with on a deep level as the sentiment of Koreans are metaphorically described with nature and in a very Korean style.