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Lee,Eun Sang

Lee Eun-sang

Lee Eun-sang (1903 - 1982) was a Korean poet and historian. He dedicated to the revival and modernization of sijo, a form of Korean poetry. Because of succeeding typical lyricism that is discovered in Bomcheonyeo (봄처녀) and 'Gagopa' (가고파) etc, because of reappearing of sijo by a modern sense that is accomplished in Donghaesong (동해송) and 'High ground is over there', he is said the best poet in a revival of modern sijo.


Lee Eun-sang was born on October 22, 1903 at 100 [Sangnam-dong, Masan in Korea. When he was a child, he played with his friends near a spring next to his house at the hill of Mt. Nobisan. Whenever he visited Masan, he went to the spring as it was reminiscent of his childhood. 'Climbing up the Old Hill' and 'Symphony of Spring' both depict the days when he played on the hill of Mt. Nobisan. One of his motivation to write Sijo is that his father usually recited it to him when he was a child. Through his father, he became familiar with sijo, and getting older, he could write sijo.

In 1918, He graduated from the Changshin High School (창신고등학교) which his father had built, and in 1923, he entered the department of liberal arts at Yunhee College, the predecessor of Yonsei University. He withdrew on 1923. In 1921, for the first time, 'Hyuljo' was published in 'Ahsung' vol.4. as 'Duwuseong'-his other pen name, but his genuine creation started in 1924 when 'Chosun Mundan' was founded. He worked for Changshin School as a teacher until he studied at Waseda University in Japan, majoring in history in 1926. He worked at Ewha Woman's University as a professor from 1931 to 1932. After that, he worked for Dong-a Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo.

In 1942, He was arrested on the suspicion of implicating in the so-called "incident of Chosun Language Academy"(조선어학회사건) and was released from prison the next year because of having his indictment suspended. In 1945, he was detained in custody as a political offender at the Gwangyang police station and was released at the time of independence from Japan.

After Korea`s liberation in 1945, he worked in various kinds of fields such as academic, the press, and history. His works changed focus from the poetic feeling of an individual to an emphases of society: admiration for country, dearest wish for reunification, the memory of patriots. In 1969, he was awarded the President Prize, and in 1970, the Medal of the People -the Mugunghwajang.


Lee Eun Sang earned a reputation as a poet who opened up a new free form of modern Sijo through a poetic word, writing materials, and versification. Firstly, he evolved a vulgar speech word into a poetic word, as most of his works were composed for classical songs. Secondly 'Nosan Shijojip', his first volume of a collection of poems which were printed in 1932, integrated characteristics like homesickness, sentimentality, and the cult of nature. Especially 'Memory of Hometown', 'Gagopa', ' Night of Seongbul Temple'- these are filled with plain and sweet lyricism.

After Korea`s liberation in 1945, his works changed focus from the poetic feeling of an individual to an emphases of society: admiration for country, dearest wish for reunification, the memory of patriots. The lastly Yangjang Sijo, a new type of Sijo, being published in this volume appears in which the second line among the three lines is eliminated to strengthen the poem's implication. Like this, He assimilated typical three line poetry into a modern rhythm, his Sijo came true the freedom of rhythm in basic form.


1. Kim Sang-sun. "On the Shijo(Koren Liric)of Lee un-sang." Korean Literature May. 1985 vol.93 n.1 p.209-229.
2. Park Sang-gon. "A Study on Lee Eun-sang's shijo." KNUE 1992.
3. Lee Sung-won. "The Status of Lee Eun-sang's shijo." A Collection of Treatises about Human Knowledge vol.10. Aug. 2003. p.5-20.
4. Oh Seung-hui. "A Study of Space on Lee Eun-sang's shijo."
KNUE The Korean Language Research Institute Jan.1996. vol.5 p.93-116.
5. Oh Se-yeong. "A theory of Modern Korean Traditional Verse Writer." Taihaksa 2001. p.51-65.
6. Nosan Literature Compilation Committee. "Nosan's Literature and Human." Hwatbulsa 1983.
7. the Korean Literature Compilation Committee. "Korean Literature Data Dictionary" Hanguksajeonyeongusa 1995.
9. "the Korean Literature Compilation Committee" Garamgihoek (1995)
10. "the Korean Modern Literature Dictionary" Hanguksajeonyeongusa(2000)

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