Jeju Island Poet: Read it, Feel it, Someday

During our 2 week trip around Jeju Island by bicycle we stayed in the sleepy town of Gosanri on the western side of South Korea’s Jeju Island.   We heard about  a Jeju Island poet, Jo Sungwon, in a local cafe. Jo had escaped from a high-pressure engineering job in Seoul and was living a simple, hermitic existence in a stone shack and ran a small beach side cafe stand.

He agreed to an interview for our film about Jeju Island, and served us locally made delicious Korean beetroot tea in his writing studio amidst a gorgeous garden.  After his interview Jo read us one of his poems “Companion.”


I will be more skeptical than my 20’s
And I was more confused than my 40’s.
Yesterday was nothing but intense memories
the remaining ashes are scattered on the umbilical cord.
I will love anonymous you.
The fact that the moment is dying in the arms of sublimity,
As the lofty universe faces it,
My ridiculous disgust settles down from exhaustion
And I will bring you up out of the inanity of the fetters and ensconce you.
As the index of fulfilling life sings in the empty dark,
I unwrap the unreached gift.

– Jo Sungwon

As a parting gift he gave a book of his Korean poetry to our son, inscribed with “Dear Seb, read it, feel it, someday.”  I hope oneday he really can read the poems and understand the full meaning in Korean.

This short film is part of our upcoming film “Jeju: A Bicycle Adventure”.   You can check out more clips from the film here: “Jeju Island by Bicycle”  Sign up for our email list below or like our facebook, twitter, youtube or Google+ page.

Written by Emma Hall
Editing and photography by Jarrod Hall
Translator Migyoung Kim (김미경)