A Poem by Na Hye-Sok on Her Birthday

Na Hye-sok was born on April 28, 1896; pioneering Korean feminist, author, poet, journalist, and the first professional woman painter in Korea, who used the pseudonym Jeongwol. Her short story, Kyonghul (1918), about a woman’s self-discovery, is considered the first feminist work in Korean literature. After her husband divorced her for infidelity while they were living in Paris, her reputation was ruined when she published A Divorce Confession, which challenged male dominance and repression of women’s sexuality in Korean society. Unable to sell her writing or her paintings, she spent her last years living on the charity of Buddhist monasteries. Her paintings are now highly regarded and sell for thousands of dollars, but it is difficult to authenticate her later work, and a number of fakes have appeared on the market.

To read her poem “The Doll’s House” click:

The Doll’s House

by Na Hye-Sok


Playing with my doll
makes me happy and later
I become my father’s doll
and later my husband’s
I make them happy
I become their comfort

Let Nora go
at last
from her prison
unlock the gate
let Nora go free


Like my responsibility
to my husband and my children
I have divine responsibility
to make myself human
to follow that path
to become human


My heart knows
without the taste of real human
from the walls torn down
worthless is my body


Oh, dear beloved daughters
look at me
devote yourselves with all your heart
a new day behind the rainstorm
will find you
and I

Let Nora go
at last
from her prison
unlock the gate
let Nora go free

written in 1921 – translated into English by Tanya Ho Kong

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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