See also Culture of South Korea, North Korean literature until 1945, and North Korean literature
Byeolmadang Library at Starfield COEX Mall in seoul

South Korean literature is literature written or produced in South Korea following the division of Korea into North and South in 1945.[1] South Korean literature is primarily written in Korean, though English loanwords are prevalent.[2]

Literature by genre

Mainstream fiction

Also referred as 'pure literature' in South Korea. Most authors translated by the Korea Literature Translation Institute for translation falls into this category. The terminology is often criticized, and is a constant theme of discussion in the literature of South Korea.

Some of the notable[according to whom?] Korean mainstream fiction writers include:

There are also Korean-American writers writing in Korean, e.g. Kim Yong-ik.

Popular fiction

This term, the popular fiction, is defined as the mass market-targeted works, or as an opposite of the pure literature. This terminology comes from the equivalent Japanese word.[3][4] But since early 2000, the distinction between mainstream and pop became faint, and some mainstream authors like Gu Byeong-mo or Chung Serang are well-received in both genre, and there is a clear tendency of authors refuse to define themselves as the 'pure literature' author.[5]

Historical fiction

Historical fiction, or alternative history fiction, is one of the largest selling genre in South Korea. For a more serious works, authors like Jo Jung-rae and Park Wan-suh falls into this category. For lighter works, Kim Jin-myung, the author of The Rose of Sharon Blooms Again, is one of the most best selling writers. The historical fiction of South Korea often covers the Chosun Dynasty and the colonization era. Lee In-hwi's novels often depict historical labor rights issues in South Korea in the 1980s and 1990s.[6]


Examples of Korean fantasy writers and their works include:

Science fiction


Non-fiction essayists include Chang Young-hee.


Main article: Korean poetry

List of Korean-language poets

Notable modern poets include Moon Deok-soo [ko] (문덕수, 文德守, b.1928),[7] Choi Nam-son (1890–1957) [8] and Kim Sowol,[9] Ki Hyung-do, Chon Sang-pyong.

South Korean literary awards


  1. ^ Lee, Peter H. (2003). A History of Korean Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 481. ISBN 1139440861.
  2. ^ Lee 2003, p. 25.
  3. ^ "대중소설(大衆小說)". Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  4. ^ "순문학". (in Korean). Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  5. ^ "[책과 삶]장르물? 결국은 좋은 문학이어야 한다". Kyunghyang Shinmun (in Korean). 2019-03-15. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  6. ^ Kim, Haktae (2017-07-24). "[소설 의 이인휘 작가] "내 소설의 원천은 반자본주의, 노동현장에서 읽히기를"" [[Lee In-hwi, author of the novel Crossing] “The source of my novel is anti-capitalism, and I hope it will be read in the workplace.”]. (in Korean). Retrieved 2024-06-15.
  7. ^ 1985 The Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry (한국현대시선) Chung Chong-Wha et al. East West
  8. ^ 1997 Modern Korean Verse (한국 현대 시조선) Kim Jaihiun Ronsdale LTI Korea
  9. ^ 2004 The Columbia Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry (한국현대시선집) David R.McCann Columbia University Press