About the Site

About Left/Write, Lit

While there are notable figures whose work has been received positively in translation (i.e. Kim Young-ha, Ko UnPark Wan-suh, and Shin Kyung-sook), there are few writers who come close to matching the success of Kpop artists like DBSKLee HyoriRain, and SNSD.

It’s unfortunate that language should be a barrier, so I want to give people a chance to fall in love with lesser known poets and authors by translating what I can of modern Korean literature.

Since I am a learner of Korean myself, any critique, opinions, and suggestions are always welcome!


About Jibril Ikharo

I’m your stereotype of linguists. (In reality, to be a linguist doesn’t mean you study multiple languages but the structure of language itself.) I study a lot of languages, I can converse in some of them, I feel comfortable reading in a handful, and I’m always considering picking up one or two more. Korean, though, has a special place in my heart because of the friendships that motivated me to begin learning the language.

I started studying Spanish in 2000 because it was mandatory in school; it stuck with me all these years because of an eccentric high school teacher and an insignificant song which taught me that language was best learned when you had people to share it with.

I started Chinese in 2006 because I wanted to do something pleasantly surprising for friends I found myself becoming closer with. Korean came later in 2007 because, understandably, Koreans like to speak Korean when they got together.

While it was great that my Korean friends felt comfortable switching languages in mixed company, it felt more than a little isolating when the group erupted into laughter and I was left wondering what was so funny.

Knowing the struggle of making myself understood in a language that was not my own, my options were: (1) to continually feel left out or (2) to try my best to understand them. I chose the second option and have been in love with South Korea ever since. Without the presence of close friends, I never would’ve continued studying any of these languages, so I owe a big debt of gratitude to all the people who continue to put up with all my questions and my less-than-perfect grammar.

  • I really enjoy your translations. I’ve done some casual translations of Korean fiction into English (just for practice) and it really makes me think deeply about both languages.

    • Jibril

      You know, when it comes to translations, I’m always concerned that someone’s gonna call me out on a questionable choice of words. My only consolation is that a bad translation has some merit, even if it’s only the opportunity to become acquainted with some new grammar patterns or pieces of vocabulary.

      Also, I find that even though my Spanish is so much stronger than my Korean, Korean-English translations tend to be more fun — probably because I feel more free since my understanding of the original Korean sentences is often far from perfect.

  • alodia4448

    “… it felt more than a little isolating when the group erupted into laughter and I was left wondering what was so funny” —> tell me about it!!!! ㅠㅠ and to make the matter worst in my case, they were not only Korean, but there were some foreigners in the group who were obviously better than me. I also chose the second option!

    Love your blog! Now I have no excuse to skip reading Korean literature. Will be visiting frequently!

    • Jibril Ikharo

      I’ve been in those kinds of situations too. On the one hand, I can’t help envying people who Korean skills are so obviously better than mine; on the other hand, when I ask them about their study habits, I have to admit that they always put in so much more effort to learning that I do.

      Uggh, it all just reminds me that I should probably be more deliberate about my studying. But reading in a language has always been easier for me, haha.