Translation Awards

The birth of new literary vistas

Harboring the dream of the Nobel Prize in Literature Embedded in the adage, "Translation is not merely the transmutation of text from one language to another, but a new creation," lies a profound truth that holds particular significance in the sphere of literature. Korea brims with a wealth of exquisite literary works that hold their own on the global stage. The country is also home to a host of exceptional novelists and poets. Despite this abundance of talent, Korea has yet to see a Nobel laureate emerge from its literary circles. This can be largely attributed to the scarcity of high-quality translations of our esteemed literary works into major foreign languages, notably English.

In response to this challenge, The Korea Times introduced the Modern Korean Literary Translation Awards in 1970. This initiative was conceived to not only translate and promote our acclaimed literary works around the world, but also to cultivate adept literary translators. This pioneering cultural project aligned with Korea's journey towards advanced industrialization and the ushering in of a new era of internationalization across diverse fields.

Fostering the global presence of Korean literature The Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards have led to both quantitative and qualitative enhancements in the volume of submissions. Through these awards, a multitude of professional

translators specializing in Korean literature have emerged both domestically and internationally. Although awareness of the awards was initially limited, leading to multiple entries from the same individuals, the situation has changed significantly over time. The Literature Translation Institute of Korea, operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has published a compilation of literary translations endorsed by The Korea Times, furthering the cause of

internationalizing Korean literature.

Cultivating a new frontier for Korean literature through translation Marking its 54th year in 2023, since its inception on Nov. 1, 1970, the Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards have played a crucial role in nurturing skilled translators and propagating the brilliance of Korean literature worldwide. The awards endeavor to kindle international enthusiasm and establish a resonating presence, thereby contributing towards securing Korea's maiden Nobel Prize in Literature. These awards, steeped in history and tradition, are carving out fresh prospects for the translation of Korean literature.

As the sole initiative dedicated to the internationalization of contemporary Korean literature, these awards have significantly elevated the global presence of Korean literature, enhanced translation standards and stimulated creativity among Korean writers. The award's undeterred commitment to improving the quality and volume of submitted works positions it as a gateway for translators championing Korean literature. All global readers interested in translating Korean literature are encouraged to participate.

새로운 문학관의 탄생

노벨문학상의 꿈을 품다

"번역은 단순히 텍스트를 한 언어에서 다른 언어로 변환하는 것이 아니라 새로운 창조"라는 의미가 내재되어 있으며 문학 분야에서 특별한 의미를 지닌 심오한 진리가 있습니다. 한국은 세계무대에서 자신만의 독특한 문학 작품을 풍부하게 보유하고 있습니다. 한국은 뛰어난 소설가와 시인의 고향이기도 합니다. 이처럼 풍부한 재능에도 불구하고 한국은 아직 문학계에서 노벨상 수상자가 등장한 적이 없습니다. 이것은 주로 우리의 존경받는 문학 작품을 주요 외국어, 특히 영어로의 고품질 번역이 부족하기 때문일 수 있습니다. 이러한 도전에 부응하여 코리아타임스는 1970년 한국 문학 번역상을 도입했습니다. 이 이니셔티브는 우리의 찬사를 받는 우리 문학 작품을 전 세계에 번역하고 홍보할 뿐만 아니라 숙련된 문학 번역가를 양성하기 위해 시작되었습니다. 이 선구적인 문화 프로젝트는 선진 산업화를 향한 한국의 여정과 다양한 분야에서 국제화의 새로운 시대를 여는 것과 일치합니다.

한국문학의 세계화

한국문학번역상은 출품작의 양적, 질적 향상으로 이어졌습니다. 이 상을 통해 국내는 물론 해외에도 수많은 한국문학 전문 번역가들이 배출됐다. 처음에는 수상에 대한 인식이 제한되어 동일인이 여러 번 응모했지만 시간이 지남에 따라 상황이 크게 달라졌습니다. 문화관광부 산하 한국문학번역원이 코리아타임스가 인증한 번역문집을 발간하여 한국문학의 국제화에 앞장서기도 하였습니다.

번역을 통한 한국문학의 새 지평 개척

1970년 11월 1일 제정된 한국문학번역상은 2023년 올해로 54회째를 맞는다. 이 상은 국제적 관심을 불러일으키고 반향을 불러일으키며 한국의 첫 번째 노벨 문학상 수상에 기여하기 위해 노력하고 있습니다. 역사와 전통이 있는 이 상은 한국문학 번역의 새로운 지평을 열어가고 있습니다.

한국 현대 문학의 국제화를 위한 유일한 이니셔티브인 이 상은 한국 문학의 세계적 위상을 크게 높이고 번역 수준을 높이며 한국 작가들의 창의성을 자극했습니다. 출품작의 질과 양을 높이려는 이상의 끊임없는 노력은 '한국문학을 옹호하는 번역가를 위한 관문' 으로 자리매김했습니다. 한국문학 번역에 관심있는 전세계 독자 여러분의 많은 참여 바랍니다.

Past Winners



Professor of Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Ewha Womans University

Jung Ha-yun is a writer and translator whose work has appeared in The Harvard Review, The New York Times, Best New American Voices 2001and other publications. She received her M.A. from Emerson College and is the recipient of a PEN Translation Fund Grant and writing fellowships from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her translations include novels and stories by Oh Jung-hee, Kim Hoon, and Shin Kyung-sook. She serves on the faculty at Ewha Womans University's Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation.


Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University

Dafna Zur is an Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University. She teaches courses on Korean literature, cinema and popular culture. Her book, "Figuring Korean Futures: Children’s Literature in Modern Korea" (Stanford University Press, 2017), traces the affective investments and coded aspirations made possible by children’s literature in colonial and postcolonial Korea. She is working on a new project on moral education in science and literary youth magazines in postwar North and South Korea. She has published articles on North Korean science fiction, the Korean War in North and South Korean children’s literature, childhood in cinema and Korean popular culture. Her translations of Korean fiction have appeared in, The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Short Stories, and the Asia Literary Review.


Professor of English Language and Literature at Seoul National University

Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the TA First Translation Prize and the LTI Korea Translation Award for her translation of Han Yujoo's The Impossible Fairy Tale. She’s a two-time winner of the Harvey Award for Best International Book for her translations of Keum Suk Gendry-Kim's Grass and Yeong-shin Ma's Moms. Recent translations include Ha Seong-nan's Wafers and Kwon Yeo-sun's Lemon. She is currently a mentor for the American Literary Translators Association's Emerging Translator Mentorship Program.

Introducing Our Proud Sponsor

The Korean Literature Translation Award is making a great contribution to fostering competent translators and promoting the excellence of Korean literature to the world. In particular, we are trying to contribute to Korea's first Nobel Prize in Literature by attracting international attention and repercussions.

KB Financial Group sponsored us for 8 years from 2016 to 2024.

Related News


The Korea Times held the 54th Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards ceremony in Seoul on Monday.

Aspiring translators said that the Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards, hosted by The Korea Times, have become a stepping stone for their literary translation dreams.

A winner of the 52nd Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards took on the issue of humans vs. artificial intelligence (AI) in translation, Wednesday, sparking an intellectual debate about whether machines can replace humans in literary translation.

The 51st Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award commemorated the winners’ affection and passion for literature translation at an awards ceremony at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul, Thursday evening.

The Korea Times, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KB Financial Group, hosted the 50th Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards, Wednesday evening, at the Korea Press Center in central Seoul, presenting prizes to the winners. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the awards aiming to bridge the gap between Korean literature and global readers since its launch back in 1970.

As more and more Korean authors are becoming cosmopolitan, international interest in Korean literature has picked up and the importance of good translators who can deliver this without harming the original text is increasing.


55th Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards

The Korea Times invites translators from around the world to participate in the 55th Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards.

Since 1970, The Korea Times has been dedicated to recognizing excellence in literary translation and promoting Korean literature to a global readership through this annual competition. Many of the leading translators and scholars working in the field today began their careers as winners of the Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards, and The Korea Times looks forward to ushering in a new generation of talent in the years to come.

The annual competition awards English translations of works of contemporary Korean literature in two categories: fiction/drama and poetry.

Submission Guidelines 

Applicants may submit a translation of 1) a work of fiction or drama or 2) 10 poems by the same poet. Applicants should submit only one entry in either category.


Candidates should submit an English translation of one work of fiction (a novel, novella or short story) or a play. The first publication date of the original Korean work should be 1980 or later. Longer works will not automatically be given preference, although some credit will be given for the additional effort involved. A translation of one portion of a long novel will be considered on the condition that it presents at least a third of the complete novel and the translator plans to translate the entire work.


Candidates should submit English translations of 10 poems, all by the same poet. The original poems should have been first published in or after 1980.

General Rules 

Translations should be sent before Aug. 31, 2024, as email attachments in PDF format to with the subject “The Korea Times Translation Awards.”

The translators’ names, telephone numbers, mailing and email addresses should be given in the body of the email message. The translators’ names must not figure anywhere in the file of the translation, nor in the name of the file.

The Korean originals should be scanned and submitted as an attached PDF file along with the translations; if this is impossible for some reason, one hard copy must be mailed to the Culture Desk at The Korea Times by the same due date.

In both categories, the jury will be looking for accurate and persuasive translations that attempt to render in English the literary merit of significant works of contemporary literature.

Translations submitted must not have been published in any form before the deadline set for submissions. Works that have previously been published in English translation must not be translated again for the contest.

Candidates do not need the author’s permission to translate a work for submission to the awards. However, since a translation cannot be published without such permission, it is strongly advised that anyone intending to translate a full-length work, especially, should contact the author — through the publisher if necessary — before beginning, to inquire if such permission might be forthcoming, of if another translator is already working on it.

Someone who has already received an award in a category is not eligible to submit entries in that category again. Entries for The Korea Times Awards must not be submitted to any other translation contest in the same year.

Winners will be announced through The Korea Times in November.

The jury’s decision will be final, and no correspondence concerning it will be entered into.

All copyrights in submissions and prize-winning works belong to the translators, but portions of the award-winning entries may be published in The Korea Times.

For inquiries: The Korea Times Culture Desk at 02-724-2353 or


Grand prize in Fiction/Drama: 7 million won

Grand prize in Poetry: 4 million won

Commendation awards: 2 million won each to entries in either fiction/drama or poetry 

Kevin O'Rourke Award: 1 million won to an entry in either fiction/drama or poetry 

* One of the grand prize winners in either fiction/drama or poetry will receive the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Award. This year a special award will be given, in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland in Korea, to honor the late Kevin O’Rourke and his contribution as a distinguished translator of Korean literature.

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