Han Kang, a Korean writer who was born in 1970, is renowned for her novel titled “The Vegetarian” which won the Man Booker International Prize in 2016. It was translated by a British translator, Deborah Smith, who started teaching herself Korean only in 2010. After reading “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang, Smith says, that she was transfixed by its beauty. She noticed the lack of English-Korean translators, and has decided to translate Han Kang’s novel by herself.
Han Kang is the first Korean to win the Man Booker International Prize, and was almost entirely unknown to English-speakers before Smith translated her novel. Many of the scholars, editors and translators argue that the literature of Korea has been largely overlooked by Western publishers, when Korean culture such as K-pop is being spread through all over the world. However, things are gradually changing; for example, the independent publisher Dalkey Archive Press started its “Library of Korean Literature” series, a translation program financed in part by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.