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Novel ¡®Ieyas Tokugawa¡¯ translated properly

Posted November. 20, 2000 13:31,   


There is no ¡°Great Ambition¡± (¡°Taemang¡±). Now it is ¡°Ieyas Tokugawa.¡±

¡°Taemang,¡± a translation in Korean of ¡°Ieyas Tokugawa¡± written by Sohachi Yamaoka of Japan, has been a long-term bestseller since the 1970s in Korea, as a must read for the management of organizations, a guidebook for how wage earners¡¯ conduct life and as an interesting book for reading.

Sol Publishing Co. of Korea recently issued the first nine of the total 32 books in Korean translation of the Japanese novel in its original name, ¡°Ieyas Tokugawa,¡± in an exclusive copyright contract with Japan¡¯s Kodansha Co. The company plans to complete the publication of the 32 books in three parts by the end of next year.

The novel, which is based on the biography of Tokugawa, who unified 16th century Japan, has greatly influenced the Korean reading world. It is estimated that about 20 million copies in 1 million sets were sold since the first edition was released in the early 1970s, accounting for one book for every two people in Korea.

The success of the epic gave rise to a boom in the publication of history novels and management books titled after the names of Japanese samurais. In Japan, the novel was serialized in a newspaper for 17 years since 1950, and more than 100 million copies were sold. But the novel could not be discussed openly in Korean society mainly due to the lack of a contract for the publishing rights and many errors in the translation.

At the same time, there had been a criticism that the novel ¡°beatifies the Japanese general who took the lead in the Japanese invasion of Korea¡± in 1592.

But translator Lee Kil-Jin, 67, said: ¡°No. This novel proves in detail that the (Japanese) invasion into the Choson Kingdom was a vain ambition. It concretely introduces that the Choson people¡¯s resistance foiled the invasion and depicts how Adm. Yi Sun-Shin fought back the Japanese invaders.¡±

Boycotting the novel with a nationalistic yardstick is against its theme pursuing the ¡°substance of peace,¡± he said.

Lee is a veteran translator of Japanese literature with a career of more than 40 years. His works include, among others, Nobel Literature laureate Yasunari Kawabata¡¯s ¡°Snow World¡± and Kenzaburo Oe¡¯s ¡°Raising.¡± Each of the books contains the list of characters, dictionary of terms used in 16th century Japan, comparison of weights and measures index and pictures of armors, helmets and generals¡¯ crests.