Abu Dhabi: Three prominent Korean authors called on Arab institutions and individuals to try to translate selected books and poems into Arabic, which will help in bridging the gap of understanding between Arabs and people in the Far East.

"For many of Koreans, 1001 Arabian Nights is a source of fond childhood memories and knowledge about people in the Arab world. The translation of [literary] works into other languages is crucial in building opinion and forming views about people of other nations," a Korean author told a literary discussion at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (Adibf).

Korea was chosen as this year's Market Focus at the book fair, which will run until March 20 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).


The discussion, titled ‘Middle East Meets Far East: A Literary Bridge between the UAE and Korea', saw three prominent authors and poets, Kim Joo-young, Yi Mun-yoi and Kim Min-jeong discuss their works, the difficulty of translating their works into Arabic as well as other topics. "While I would love to have more of my works translated into Arabic, the problem is that the institutes here teach a very classical form of Korean... they are even taught words and phrases that are no longer used by modern Koreans," Joo-young explained.

"As a result, the translated work might not be very accurate, which is why I believe there is only [one] translated work currently in the Middle East, An Appointment with My Brother [by Mun Yol-yi] that is available in Cairo," he added.

Another point that they raised was the difficulty in choosing which works to be translated because of factors such as abstract phrases, allegories and references to daily life in Korea. "For example, my poems are very abstract and metaphysical so it might be difficult to translate them into Arabic. Also, there are many words in Korea that have more than one meaning so many authors tend to manipulate words and their sounds in their works," Min-jeong said.

"Because translation is a tricky and delicate process, those translating our work have a strong understanding of not only our language but also our culture so they can depict them accurately."