75. Ko Un and Brother Anthony

Andrew Motion, in his introduction to First Person Sorrowful, calls Ko Un ‘a major poet, who has absolutely compelling things to say about the entire history of South Korea, and equally engrossing things to say about his own exceptionally interesting life and sensibility’.

Ko Un lived through the Korean War, was a Buddhist monk and has spent three periods in prison. Now 80, he has published more than 150 volumes of poetry, including the extraordinary 30-volume Maninbo (Ten Thousand Lives), part of an oath made in prison that every person he had ever met would be remembered with a short poem.

He appears with his translator Brother Anthony to chat about his life and share his poetry.