Tohoku University unveils a monument to Kim Kirim

  • 11th December 2018
Tohoku University unveils a monument to Kim Kirim; article contains additional illustrations

A monument commemorating the Korean poet Kim Kirim was unveiled on the grounds of Tohoku University's [JB – see] Katahira Campus on November 30.
Some 60 people joined President Hideo Ohno for the ceremony, including officials from the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Consulate-General of the Republic of Korea in Sendai, and groups related to exchange between Japan and Korea.
Kim, whose real name is Kim Inson, was a student at Tohoku University's Department of English Literature. He graduated from the Faculty of Law and Letters in 1939. Upon returning to Korea, he began writing poetry while working as a journalist and an academic. He is best known as a modernist poet and critic whose work was heavily inspired by T.S. Eliot and I.A. Richards.
At the unveiling ceremony, President Ohno described the monument as a recognition of the many Koreans who have come to Tohoku University over the years, and said that he hoped it would encourage more exchange between the two countries.
Bahk Sahng-hoon, the Ambassador for Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] at Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, echoed the sentiment, adding that while relations between Japan and Korea are sometimes difficult, opportunities to deepen mutual understanding and friendship are always welcome.
A highlight of the ceremony was a reading by Yuko Aoyagi, an award-winning translator of Korean literature. She read her translation of the poem "The Sea and the Butterfly," one of Kim's most famous works, said to reflect the feelings he had upon returning to Korea after graduating from Tohoku University.
The monument itself features a crescent moon motif – a combination of the symbol of Sendai's former feudal lord Date Masamune and the imagery of "The Sea and the Butterfly." Researchers and citizen groups in both Japan and Korea were integral in the planning and preparation of the monument.
After the ceremony, the guests visited the University Archives to view a special exhibition about Kim. Among the materials on display was his entry in the university's student directory.
The day ended with a symposium titled "Kim Kirim and Peace." Attendees heard presentations by a number of researchers about the poet's life, his time at Tohoku University and the sense of peace found in many of his poems. Broader discussions also included ways to strengthen relations between Japan and Korea.
The ceremony and symposium are among several events held across Japan this year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration signed in October 1998 by then-leaders Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and President Kim Dae-Jung.
Original Article

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