Korean Poetry Icon Dies Of Pneumonia at Age 85

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Korean Poetry Icon Dies Of Pneumonia at Age 85

Suh Jhung-joo, 85, one of the most famous poets in South Korea, died Sunday evening at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul of pneumonia. His surviving family members include Mr. Suh's two sons, Seung-hae and Yoon, who now live in the United States.

"Mr. Suh's symptoms got worse on Saturday. By Sunday morning, he had to use an oxygen mask," a doctor said.

According to an unidentified friend of Mr. Suh, he was in good health until his wife died on October 10. The shock and sadness of his loss caused him to decline, his friend said.

Born in 1915 in North Cholla Province, Mr. Suh was arrested by the Japanese authorities in 1930 while attending Choongang High School in Seoul. Like many idealistic young Koreans, he was participating in a student movement aimed at overthrowing the Japanese colonial government of that time.

After his poem "Wall" won a literature contest held by The Dong-a Ilbo in 1936, he joined "The Poet's Village," a poetry magazine. Other famous poets featured in the magazine included Kim Kwang-kyun, Kim Dal-jin and Kim Dong-ri.

After publication in 1938 of "The Beautiful Snake," his first anthology of poems, Mr. Suh went on to release other15 volumes of poems, the last in 1997.

He is commonly referred to among Koreans as a one-man "school of poetry" or as "the government of poetry," for his rich poetic language.

by Lee Kyeung-chul

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