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Senior Poet Ko Un Receives Cikada Prize
Senior Poet Ko Un (third from right) toasts with Swedish Ambassador to Seoul Lars Vargo (fourth from right) and other foreign envoys in Seoul.

The jury for the Cikada Prize has decided to give the 2006 Cikada Prize to the 73-year-old South Korean poet Ko Un.

The Cikada Prize was presented to the senior poet by Swedish Ambassador to Seoul Lars Vargo in a ceremony held on Nov. 28, 2006 at the Swedish envoy's residence in Seongbuk-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul.

"I just want to get back to my normal hours where I can concentrate on my writing," the senior poet said in the ceremony.

The Cikada Prize is given to an East Asian poet, who "in his/her poems defends the inviolability of life." The Prize was founded in 2004 in connection with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Swedish Nobel Prize laureate in literature 1974, Harry Martinson. It consists of SEK 20.000 and a piece of ceramics made by the Swedish artist Gunilla Sundström.

Behind the Prize are the following institutions in Sweden:

the European Institute of Japanese Studies at the Stockholm School of Economics,
the hotel Yasuragi Hasseludden,
the Jewish Theater,
the private East Asia Institute, and
Nyteboden, the foundation which takes care of the birth place of Mr. Martinson in the south of Sweden.

The name of the Prize has been inspired by Martinson's poetry collection "Cikada," which was published in 1953. The Prize is given to East Asian poets (Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) because of the great inspiration Harry Martinson found for his own poetry in the literature produced by East Asian writers, and also because the rich poetry of these countries deserves better international recognition, according to the organizers.

Several of Ko Un's poems have been translated in to Swedish, and Ko Un has many readers in Sweden. The Prize will be given to Mr. Ko Un at the Swedish Embassy in Seoul towards the end of November 2006.

Earlier prize winners

The first Cikada Prize was given to the modern Japanese poet So Sakon (1919-2006). The Prize was presented in connection with the opening of a symposium about Japanese literature at the Yasuragi in Stockholm on the 6th of August 2004, but the Prize itself was handed to Mr. So at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo on 3 September 2004.

The winner of the second Cikada Prize was the Japanese haiku poet Kaneko Tota (born 1919). The Prize was handed over to Mr. Kaneko at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo on 13 December 2005 by Princess Desirée of Sweden.






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