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Korean Literary Collection

Between Liberation Space and Time of Need, 1945-1950

An Exhibition of Rare Literary Works from the Korean Collection of the University of Washington Libraries

hapch'ang: sin siron sijip (poems)
hapch'ang: sin siron sijip (poems)

The closing of World War II on August 15, 1945 liberated Koreans from thirty-six years of Japanese occupancy. Koreans were overjoyed by their new freedom, but soon faced harsh reality. This was not exceptional for many artists, intellects and publishers of post-war Korea, who collaborated without asking for monetary compensation. Despite the lack of material resources, art and literature began to thrive as a result of the heart-felt friendship of various artists and intellects, until the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. This duration of time (Aug.15, 1945 - Jun. 25, 1950) is known as the liberation space, a temporal space of blossoming post-World War Korean art and literature where the production of art was for art’s sake and conflicting ideologies could not hinder their friendship.

Nor did poor material conditions deter their zeal for creating an artistic and intellectual space. Lacking sufficient printing and binding tools and advanced technologies, publications from the liberation space seem rather meager. The paper quality is crude, printing and binding qualities are substandard, and preservation had been overlooked. However, the artistic quality of these publications displays the unprecedented uniqueness of the Korean literature of that particular period. The publications displayed in this exhibition are not only textual celebrations but also the pictorial expression of beauty by reputable artists of the era, not to mention the arduous labor many publishers put into each and every work.

About the Database

Between Liberation Space and Time, 1945-1950 was an exhibition of rare literary works from the Korean collection of the University of Washington Libraries displayed in the Allen Library from May 10, 2006 through August 31, 2006.

The East Asia Library at the University of Washington would like to acknowledge the work of Dr. Jong Chune Kim, Visiting Scholar from Sangmyung University of Korea, who developed and assembled the exhibit.

The event was made possible with funding from the 21st Century Award of the University of Washington Libraries and the other supporters include the Department of Asian Language & Literature and the Korean Studies Program of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

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