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  Arts & Living
Int’l Poetry Festival for World Peace Held
Some 100 Poets from World Gathered at Mt. Geumgang
By Kang Seok-Jae
Senior Writer
Nigerian Wole Soyinka (second from left), a 1986 Nobel Prize winner in literature, pose with other recipients of the Manhae Prize during the award ceremony of the 2005 International Poetry Festival for World Peace at the Manhae village near Baekdam Temple in Gangwon Province on Aug. 12, 2005. Soyinka won the 2005 Manhae Prize for literature.

Mt. GEUMGANG, North Korea – About 100 poets from all around the world gathered here this past weekend to share their love for world peace.

Attending the 2005 International Poetry Festival for World Peace, which kicked off Aug. 11, 2005, for a four-day run at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul with the opening ceremony, were Nigerian Wole Soyinka, a 1986 Nobel Prize winner in literature, and about 30 foreign poets, as well as some 70 Korean poets.

Among other foreign poets attending the festival were Agnieszka Zulawska-Umeda from Poland, Pio E. Serrano from Cuba, Diana Ferrus from South Africa, Geoff Page from Australia, Affonso Romano de SantAnna from Brazil.

Korean Poet Ko Un, who headed the Organizing Committee of the 2005 IPF, and the Most Ven. Bupjang, president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, also participated in the annual festival.

Soyinka, 72, was announced as the recipient of the 2005 Manhae Prize for literature, while the Dalai Lama of Tibet was selected as the winner of the Manhae Peace Prize for this year. The award ceremony was held at the Manhae village near Baekdam Temple in Gangwon Province on Aug. 12.

Wole Soyinka, winner the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986

Lee Soo-sung, former prime minister, serves as the head of the Screening Committee for the Association for Enhancing & Practicing the Spirit of Manhae. The association set up the Manhae Prize to honor the loft thoughts and the profound spirit of Han Yong-woon (1879-1944). Manhae is the pen name for Han, a Buddhist monk and poet who devoted most of his life to the independence of his homeland.

In the afternoon, about 100 poets from at home and abroad visited Mt. Geumgang in North Korea by bus for other festival events, including poetry recital.

More than 40 poets recited their respective poems during the three-hour-long session. About 30 North Korean poets were scheduled to attend the poetry recital for the first time ever, but failed to appear for an apparent political reason.

On Aug. 13, all the participants toured Mt. Geumgang and returned to Seoul late that night. The festival concluded its four-day event on Aug. 14 at the Shilla Hotel.

The 2005 festival had a special meaning in that Korea marked the 60th anniversary of its liberation from Japanese colonial rule on Aug. 15.

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Mr. Kang Seok-Jae serves as a senior writer for The Seoul Times. He teaches as a part-time professor at his alma mater, the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and the Seoul University of Foreign Studies. Mr. Kang also serves as secretary general of the Asia Journalists Association and the Asia coordinator for the International Federation of Journalists.






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