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Ahn Sanghak

Ahn Sanghak scrap


  • Category


  • Target User

    Adult 성인

  • Period

    Contemporary 현대

Author Bio 작가 소개

Ahn Sanghak (born 1962) is a Korean poet. He emphasizes the importance of having hope for life, through his poetry which is simple and easy but deeply touching. Because of his second poetry collection Andong soju (안동소주, Andong Soju), he is known as the "Andong soju poet." He served as the Secretary General of the Writers Association of Korea and the Kwon Jung Saeng Culture Foundation for Children.

1. Life

The poet was born in 1962 in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. All the report cards that he received during the six years of elementary school say that he always seemed blue and reticent. His dream at that time was to become a painter.[1] As a teenager, he had a hard time since he and his stepmother did not get along. Then one day, he found an illustrated poem by the high school girl named Ryu Hyang in his room, which impressed him, and he became determined to become a writer. Since then, he began to study Korean national literature and popular literature and worked at an industrial complex in Daegu. After the great demonstration of workers that lasted from July to August, 1987, he focused on writing poetry.[2]

His career as a poet started after the Joongang Ilbo published his poem "1987 nyeon 11 worui sincheon (1987년 11월의 신천, Sincheon in November, 1987)," which depicts a grim landscape of the city in the 1980s. His second poetry collection Andong soju gave him his nickname "Andong soju poet."[3] His other poetry collections include Oraedoen yeopseo (오래된 엽서, Old Postcards), published in 2003, and Abae saenggak (아배 생각, Memories of Father), published in 2008. His children's poetry collection Jigureul unjeonhaneun eomma (지구를 운전하는 엄마, Mom Who Drives the Planet) came out in 2018.

He became the Secretary General of the Writers Association of Korea[4] and took on the memorial project of sorting out the articles left by the deceased children's literature writer Kwon Jung Saeng. He participated in the establishment of the Kwon Jung Saeng Culture Foundation for Children from the spring of 2008, and worked as the foundation's Secretary General over six years until the summer of 2014.[5] He received the Kwon Jung Saeng Writing Fund (권정생창작기금) for his poem "Geu sarameun doraogo naneun geogi eobseotne (그 사람은 돌아오고 나는 거기 없었네, The Person Came Back and I Wasn't There)."[6]

2. Writing


Ahn's poems do not usually feature a strong-voiced narrator, but they observe the changes in the everyday lives and the times, while emphasizing the importance of having hope for life.[7] He mostly writes simple and easy poems, but they are very moving especially because he restrains from exhibiting his emotions too overtly.

Some of his poems depict his longing for the sister who died young of cancer and for those who are gone now, while others talk about the pains of the contemporary people.[8] Also described are his grandmother who longs for her hometown, the poet himself who is missing something like his grandmother, and his consolations for the every living being in the world.[9] With such compassion he ultimately pursues love, which is 'the desire to communicate,' by sublimating the pains of the contemporary people into humor and jokes. His poetry was acclaimed for its standout delineation of humanity and benevolence carried out in such a sincere manner, without any fancy expressions or rhetoric.[10]

Major works

The characters who appear often in his poetry are poor, but they conform to their reality without any resistance and are sacrificed: for example, "Silnae pojang ajumma (실내포장 아줌마, Lady at the Cart Bar)," in which the lady tells the story of her life as it is, and "Napddeul gomo (납뜰 고모, Aunt in Napddeul)" as well as "Dwoeji abi (돼지 아비, Pig Father)" that show fatalism. Many of his poems are set in his hometown, Andong, like the poetry collection Andong soju.[11]

In his third poetry collection Oraedoen yeopseo, poems including "Geomundo-eseo han saheul (거문도에서 한 사흘, About Three Days in Geomun-do Island)," "Deungdaereul darmeun a-i (등대를 닮은 아이, Child Who Looks Like a Lighthouse)" are set in isolated places like an island. The poet also describes a person who cannot stay, captured by wanderlust, through the poems like "Sangil (산길, Mountain Roads)" and "Gang (江, River)." However, "Haekkot (해꽃, Sunglow)" and "Nakdonggang (낙동강, The Nakdonggang River)" narrate the possibility of finding a way of life by going back home, to the countryside. In the poems like "Sambatgol massi (삼밭골 마씨, Mr. Ma of Sambatgol Village)" and "Togatmaeul issi garodoe (토갓마을 이씨 가로되, Mr. Lee of Togatmaeul Village Says)," the farmer who has come back home depicts what it is like to live in the rural area of Andong, in a vivid colloquial style.[12]

Abae saenggak, his forth poetry collection, mostly deals with sympathy and longing. In the poem "Hansik (한식, Korean Meal)," the jokes thrown by farmers when they are tired from planting rice represent the virtue of caring and respecting the living things, which lets the readers know how people of the countryside live as a harmonious community. Poems including "Abae saenggak" and "Abeojiui geomji (아버지의 검지, Father's Index Finger)" show how much he misses his father,[13] and creates a warm and humble mood by depicting the friendliness of his father who never forgets to smile.[14]

3. Reference

[1] Ahn Do-hyun, "[Ahn Do-hyun's People] Ahn Sanghak, Certainly a Country Poet from Andong," Kyunghyang Shinmun, February 1, 2017,

[2] Jeong Jin-hui, "He Risks Life When Fighting, Sweats When Working, Offers His Soul When in Love," Essay Plus, April, 2009, 65–66.

[3] Ahn Do-hyun, "[Ahn Do-hyun's People] Ahn Sanghak, Certainly a Country Poet from Andong," Kyunghyang Shinmun, February 1, 2017,

[4] "Writers Association of Korea Appoint Critic Choi Won-sik as Board President, Poet Ahn Sanghak as Secretary General," Asia Business Daily, January 25, 2016,

[5] Ahn Sanghak, Si-ui kkotmareul irkda (Seoul: Silcheon Munhaksa, 2015).

[6] Ahn Do-hyun, "[Ahn Do-hyun's People] Ahn Sanghak, Certainly a Country Poet from Andong," Kyunghyang Shinmun, February 1, 2017,

[7] Shin Hyo-ryeong, "Ahn Sanghak's Andong soju: It Gets Better with Time," Newsis, June 15, 2019,

[8] "Abe saenggak Book Description," Kyobo Book Center, accessed October 23, 2019,

[9] Kim Seong-gyu, "On Poet Ahn Sanghak: Waiting for the Dawn on the Land of No Bliss," Litopia, August, 2014, 60–66.

[10] "Abe saenggak Book Description," Kyobo Book Center, accessed October 23, 2019,

[11] Hong Ki-don, "On Ahn Sanghak's Oraedoen yeopseo: Maitreya Looks Where the Sun Goes Down," The Back Allies of the Artificial Utopia (Seoul: Silcheon Munhaksa, 2006), 141–156.

[12] Hong Yong-hui, "On Ahn Sanghak's Poetry: Simple Emotions," The Spirit and Sense of Modern Poetry (Seoul: Cheonnyeonui Sijak, 2016), 230–240.

[13] Kim Jeong-nam, "On Ahn Sanghak's Poetry: Poems That Transfer Merit," Munhwada, October 30, 2017,

[14] Kim Jeong-nam, "On Poetry of Ahn Sanghak and Cha Chang-ryong: Somewhere Between Affection and Discomfort," What Comes After the Ruins (Seoul: Munhagui Jeondang, 2008), 324–346.

[15] "[K-Poet] Selected Poetry of Ahn Sanghak," Asia Publishers Blog, accessed October 23, 2019,

[16] "Gosan Literature Award Grand Prize Winners, Poets Ahn Sanghak and Lee Seung-eun," Haenam Woori Shinmun, September 4, 2015,

[17] "Poet Ahn Sanghak Win Dongsi Majung Literary Work Award," Andong MBC, May 29, 2018,

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